Paint Layers of Transparency with Pastel

Painting water is a complicated subject, probably more so than any other landscape subject. It requires the most planning of all the landscape elements. If you slow down and observe, you’ll find that you start to see what is really there, and not just what you think you see. (HINT: Water is not always blue.)

Painting Realistic Landscapes in Pastel: Water & Reflections with Liz Haywood-Sullivan

Painting Realistic Landscapes in Pastel: Water & Reflections by Liz Haywood-Sullivan

How does this water look so real?

Artist Liz Haywood-Sullivan is a master at painting realistic landscapes. Her lessons on the layers of transparency from her Paint Realistic Landscapes in Pastel: Water & Reflections art instruction video break down each layer of water, so you can see water as it really is. Seeing water in this way will give you insight into how to paint water for realistic effects.

Four Layers of Water

  1. The bottom of the water: rocks and sand
  2. The body of water: the color of the water itself as it is affected by its surroundings and what lies beneath
  3. Reflections on top of water: trees, sky, or other things that reflect onto the top of the water
  4. The top layer or the water: moving currents, glints of light, ripples, and splashes

Layer 1-2: Water’s Bottom and Color of Water

Painting Realistic Landscapes in Pastel: Water & Reflections by Liz Haywood-Sullivan Layer 1

Painting Realistic Landscapes in Pastel: Water & Reflections by Liz Haywood-Sullivan | Underpaint light greens for sunlight filtering through trees, dark greens in shadows, and warm oranges where sun strikes the sandy bottom.

Layer 2-3: Color of Water & Reflections

Painting Realistic Landscapes in Pastel: Water & Reflections by Liz Haywood-Sullivan Layer 2-3

Painting Realistic Landscapes in Pastel: Water & Reflections by Liz Haywood-Sullivan | Add first layers of pastel to enhance the colors established in the underpainting. Then use slightly darker, or duller, versions of the surrounding landscape elements to start laying in the reflections from trees and grasses.

Layer 4: Highlights on Top of Water

Painting Realistic Landscapes in Pastel: Water & Reflections by Liz Haywood-Sullivan Layer 4

Painting Realistic Landscapes in Pastel: Water & Reflections by Liz Haywood-Sullivan | Add final touches with pastel, including blues as glints of color from the sky, whites as ripples that catch the sun, and final dark accents to show a current.

To learn more tips from Paint Realistic Landscapes in Pastel: Water & Reflections watch this video preview below. Then visit ArtistsNetwork.tv to access the full-length video, and learn how to paint water in all your favorite mediums.

In this preview of Paint Realistic Landscapes in Pastel: Water & Reflections you’ll learn pastel tips to underpaint value and color for maximum results, and how to paint in realistic reflections.

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