I took two photos that my daughter, Helen took when she was out in Portland. One is a photo of a bridge and a large, possibly Douglas fir tree, surrounded by foliage. The other a path leading to a wooded area. I combined them because I didn’t like the ‘straight on’ angle of the bridge and I liked the path.
Working on a piece of 11” x 14” white Pastelmat paper I took one of the large, oval applicators and blended Ultramarine Blue Tint, Pthalo Blue Tint, and Titanium White for the sky. This way it will be down already and show through the trees. Pan Pastels, like other pastels are very forgiving and work well right on top of each other. I work background to foreground, which will physically make sense as the pastels will layer over each other.
Using Neutral Grey and the rectangle tool I sketched in the basic composition moving the tree just slightly so it’s not in the exact center of the page. To further help the composition I put the path in the foreground in place of the bridge in the original photo.
Using Raw Umber Shade with the rectangle tool I added the most obvious tree trunks in the background. Then using the round tool and Chromium Oxide Green X-Dark I put in the darkest part of the foliage and moved just a little bit into the foreground. If you aren’t sure which areas are darkest squint your eyes and it will help you see the different values. Start with bigger shapes and don’t worry about individual leaves or pine needles at this point. Leaving them fuzzy and not detailed will help pull them back so the viewer knows they’re far away.
Starting at the top and going dark to light I added more branches using different greens, Chromium Oxide Green Shade, Hanasa Yellow X-Dark, Bright Yellow Green Shade, Permanent Green Shade and then Bright Yellow Green, Permanent Green Tint, and Chromium Oxide Green Tint.
I added bigger areas to fill in the background, more of all colors. I added more definition on the tiny pine branches hanging down on the top of the page.
Using a medium sized hard edged sponge tool and Raw Umber Tint I made vertical strokes on the whole tree, cleaning off the sponge on plain paper when some of the green from the background mixed in. The reason I’m starting with the lightest color here is that the bark is the lightest and the bumps protruding out have strong shadows. I also added the same base color to the path in the foreground. I did put less of the light color in the bottom left part of the tree so the dark will go over it more easily.
Starting with Dark Brown, Burnt Sienna X-Dark, and Raw Umber Shade I put in the shadows using a pointed foam tool. The pointed edge helped me create strong edges for irregular bark.
Using Black, Titanium White, and a bit of Burnt Sienna I completed the large fir tree. I used lighter lights, and darker darks to match the strong light source in the photo of the path and to make the tree stronger and the obvious focal point. I smoothed it out to make it contrast even more from the busy foliage around it. I completed the foreground blending the two photos using Bright Yellow primarily on the left. The shadows from the foliage on the right are Neutral Grey S/Shade, Red Iron Oxide X-Dark and a little bit of black – Permanent Red for the flowers.