Watercolor and Pastel Painting Demonstration – Let’s Paint Winter Woods!

About Christine Kane

Christine Kane is a pastel and watercolor artist who is inspired by the Midwest landscape and it’s seasons. To find new ideas for her paintings, she hikes in the forest preserves during all seasons.

Christine began drawing at an early age. She focused her education on art and has a degree in Graphic Design. She is continuing her studies and is currently pursuing a degree in Natural Resources.

Translating weather is also evident in her work. “Weather makes a landscape painting come to life. How I love to show leaves blowing in the Autumn time, snow falling in winter, or a beautiful thunderstorm approaching in my summer paintings.”

Christine finds God’s handwork in all aspects of nature and tries to translate her awe and reverence in her artwork. Never disappointed, she relies on His creation for inspiration.

To learn more about Christine and to view more of her work, please visit her site by following the link below:

==> http://letspaintnature.com/

Christine’s work can be viewed at the LaGrange Art Gallery

Watercolor and Pastel Painting Demonstration – Let’s Paint Winter Woods!

About three years ago I went hiking at Bull Frog Lake, right before evening in January. I came upon a scene that made me pause for a moment and fall in love. Winter’s intense setting sun was casting long shadows from the trees in the woods. Right on que it seemed, three crows in the distance began to caw. I almost wanted to cry. Call me a fool for nature, but West Nile almost eliminated all the crows in my area and I haven’t heard that beautiful, “CAW, CAW, CAW”, in a very long time. They are my 2nd favorite bird in the world.

So here we go! Let’s remember that moment forever by painting the winter woods…

Landscape Painting Demo Image 1

Step 1: I am using an Ampersand Pastelbord 16×20. This is going to be a watercolor and pastel painting. With charcoal, make a simple sketch before you paint. Remember the 3rd’s rule…great composition happens in thirds. Notice my horizon line is 1/3 from the top. My deer tracks will be 1/3rd from the left.

Landscape Painting Tutorial Image 2

Here is my reference photo. I had it enlarged and printed at 8×10. Notice I have a clear plastic cover on it. This will help you greatly! I am a very messy painter and get junk all over the place (and I don’t care…it’s part of the process), if I didn’t protect the picture it would have been destroyed.

Landscape Painting Techniques  Image 3

Step 2: Turn your board upside down. This will help the paint flow down with gravity. Spray the sky with clean water. Using watercolor paints, paint Naples yellow in the sky (remember we are upside down so it is at the bottom). Next, with a mixture of ultramarine blue and burnt umber, paint some distant trees using up and down strokes.

Landscape Painting Demonstration Image 4

Step 3: When dry, paint some far trees using ultramarine blue and a lot of water so the mixture is not dark. Paint closer trees using a darker mixture of ultramarine blue and burnt umber.

Landscape Painting Technique Image 5

Here is a close-up of the distant trees. I love how the watercolors spread out at the edges representing rough bark…YES! Effortless painting!

Landscape Painting Lessons Image 6

Step 4: When completely dry, turn your board right side up. In this step I am just laying down big blocks of color using watercolors. I am only using cobalt blue, ultramarine blue and alizarin in different mixtures. You might be thinking, “Are you nuts? Those colors are so dark!” Don’t worry, most of this will be covered by pastels.

Lanscape Painting Tutorials Image 7

Step 5: With sap green, ultramarine blue, and alizarin crimson, make a black mixture and paint the closest trees. Try to vary their sizes. That took me a long time to accomplish in my early years of painting. Your brain just wants to make trees, so after a while you realise they are all the same thickness. NO! In nature they are all different.

Landscape Painting Demo Image 8

Step 6: We are done with watercolors. When everything is dry, start painting with pastels. I used a medium Unison purple for the tracks and shadows and a medium blue for snow.

Landscape Painting Lesson Image 9

Step 7 Final: Make layers and layers of snow, using three different light blues. I also used light purple for the snow as well. On the tree trunks I painted spots of deep dark purple and fuchsia. You can’t really see it, but it is there. I also painted tiny spots of yellow in the snow to reflect the setting sun.

Don’t worry if you do not paint with pastels. You can use the same principles to paint with oils. It’s all about layer upon layer.

“Before Dusk in Deep Snow”


This painting will be on display at the LaGrange Art Gallery March 2010. I hope you enjoyed this step by step painting demonstration on how to paint a winter scene in the woods using watercolors and pastels.


  1. Mark Fenton says

    My name is Mark, I just wanted to say this painting is amazing. I am a self taught artist and love to check out the demonstrations on this site, I love art and love to paint and draw, although I don’t get a chance to do much of it, It hard for me to afford supplies which is really disapointing at time. Someday I’d love to be as good as Christine Kane if things change for me financially and i get to purchase supplies to practice my art. Please keep up the good works and again thanks for including me in your newsletter.


  2. says

    just peeked in to the site and this is really inspiring, I did a house painted in winter with no clue how to get the results and this sure would have helped. I have painted for 5 years now and moving away from decorative paintings to realistic, this is great. thanks for your time

  3. James says

    Wow this is a truley amazing painting. I understand what you mean when you heard the crows “cawing”. I live out in the sticks and find this sound real calming and close to nature. I love the way you have built this painting up. A really useful tip with the plastic cover for the photograph.

  4. Tom says

    The step between 6 and 7 is amazing. I am used to producing designs on a screen – I can move through the layers and change things if I make a mistake but there is something of a higher skill involved in what you have done. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Karn says

    Awesome tutorial on pastel work. I am also a self taught artist and I have always liked pastels but have not yet mastered it. I mainly oil paint the proces is very similar with the layering.

  6. Dan says

    I wanted to say that it’s nice and beauty. Amazing painting! Tis really inspiring. I am not a good artist but I love it.

  7. margaux says

    Hey, this step by step guide is really awesome… The painting demo seems so easy to follow… And, the canvass looks fabulous.. I will certainly try doing this on my free time…

  8. Jon says

    I love painting. I love how the watercolors and pastels blended well with each other with this winter painting. And I highly commend this one-of-a-kind online tutorial that talks no nonsense, just straight to the fact details about art and simple painting. Bravo!

  9. martin says

    Very, very nice pastel work. And still an easy to follow tutorial. I love the way you did the snow layers in step 7 … amazing tones of white

  10. rose says

    I will make time because I want to try the snow scene. Not painted watercolour and pastel to gether.

  11. jennifer says

    Thank you so much for doing this demo. Great painting! I have never mixed media. Can’t wait to try this.

  12. says

    This is an amazing demo. Presently I am painting a winter scene and have found your method of blocking in the snow first with darker blues and then over it with light blues useful. I too paint in layers using Pan pastel first and then water colours. I am Intersted to find out which brand of pastel you used and do you use it wet?

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