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Paint a Tree in Soft Pastel

Happy day everyone! If you’re here via my Youtube channel, welcome to my blog!  I’m so happy you made it over here. This is my happy place to share behind-the-scenes info on my process, my work, and lessons for you on how to lead a creative lifestyle.  (If you’re interested in links to more Youtube videos and blogposts, here’s a page chock-full of links.)

Artist Bethany Fields

In today’s episode, I demonstrate a great way to paint trees that are loose and dimensional.  Using a hard pastel as a base for my underpainting (I used these) along with both the pipe foam insulation and the rubbing alcohol techniques, I create different effects to highlight atmospheric perspective and varieties in the edges of the trees, etc.

To hear more about using wet underpainting (alcohol/surgical spirits), here is my video explaining my thought-process.

I used a variety of hard, soft, and medium pastels and a scrap of Uart paper.  If you’re new to the pastel medium, here is a great Wikipedia article about them.  The “hardness” or “softness” of a pastel is dependent on how much binder is used in the pigment.  I used a variety of brands in this small piece and each has its own feel and texture.  I love to use Nupastel for my initial sketch and blocking in.  I also used some Rembrandt pastels, Terry Ludwig pastels, Great American pastels, Unison, and a vintage Grumbacher. (Incidentally, always buy these pastels if you see them at yard sales!)

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I used the gray pencils from this pencil set. I love to make loose marks to symbolize branches and trunks with these, especially with a small piece. The looser you hold your pencil, the more random and realistic your branches will look. Holding the pencil in this way helps taper the branch from thick to thin, creating a more genuine form. I love adding this detail, the painting begins to come alive at these small touches.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s demonstration.  Be sure to subscribe to get notifications when I add a new one! I’ll also be having more exclusive content here on my blog in the coming months. If you’d like to check in and see what that is about, you can sign up for my newsletter here.

Thank you all for visiting and reading!



P.S.  The painting in today’s video is available for purchase, email me! It is 8.5×3.5″ pastel on sanded paper



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By | 2017-11-15T09:01:41+00:00 March 23rd, 2017|


  1. Pastels March 23, 2017 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the real time video on trees! I just started practices trees this week, so it was perfect timing! New microphone sounded great too! Happy painting!

    • Pastels March 23, 2017 at 6:13 pm - Reply

      Oops! I meant practicing trees! Can’t wait for the next video!

      • Bethany March 23, 2017 at 7:18 pm - Reply

        So glad you enjoyed it Jen!! 🙂

    • Bethany March 23, 2017 at 7:20 pm - Reply

      Thank you! Still so much to learn about audio! I had fun pretending to be a radio dj though! 🙂

  2. stapeliad March 24, 2017 at 8:35 am - Reply

    That’s a very nice demo, I love seeing your palette in the bowl. 🙂

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