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How to Draw a Landscape

Learn how to draw a landscape from artist Rebecca Schweiger in this Howcast drawing tutorial.


We're going to focus on drawing a landscape. What's wonderful about drawing a landscape is that nature is so beautiful and so inspiring. You can find any landscape that you really, really love. I'm going to be drawing a freshwater marsh that has water and many, many, many fields of grass.

I'm going to be using color pastel; these are chalk pastels. You can use any different colors, styles, or brands that you choose. What I'm going to start with is I want to look at my landscape, and I want to look at the basic shapes and the basic forms. Basically, the front of my landscape is water, it's the marsh, and there's a line where the water meets the grass, so I'm going to throw that in. Then there's grass in the front that's very dark green. The field continues backwards into space, and that area is much lighter. I'm going to draw a simple line to show where the darker greens become lighter.

I'm going to take just 3 basic colors. Top part of my landscape is a yellowish-green. I'm going to take out yellow, green, and white as well, and I'm going to block it right in. I'm going to use the side of my pastel, and I'm going to make this whole area one color. I'm using the side of my pastel. I can move it around in whatever direction I want, and my goal is to really cover that whole area. It's not detailed, very unspecific, but getting some color there. I'll take my finger, and I'll just rub it through, blending all of those colors together. It doesn't just have to be one color; I can use multiple colors.

I'm now going to come to the middle section, and for me, the landscape I'm creating, there are a couple of shades of dark green. This time, I'm going to take out a couple of greens, and I'm going to bring this green right through with the side of my pastel, and really allowing myself to connect with the beauty of the landscape that I'm looking at.

I'm blocking in with the green. I'm going to take just a touch of light green, not everywhere, but just in a couple of spots; more along the bottom, where the grass meets the marsh, just to show a couple of shades of green. Once again . . .

I'm going to continue to shade this middle area. For me, because there are reeds and grass, I'm going to make sure that my shading is north/south; up-and-down. I want the edge of those greens to touch and even blend slightly with the top section of that yellow field, so that they really blend together. Every now and then, I just give it a quick blow, or go like this, just to get that extra pastel off of the page.

Lastly, I'm going to block in the water. It's a very light blue, so I'm going to put some blue, a light sky blue color down, and then I'm going to put white on top of it; just blocking in the colors. You want to use your imagination. Whatever landscape you're looking at, the whole purpose of drawing, the whole purpose of making art, is to really express yourself, to tap into your own creativity. If there's a color you don't see, but you want to use, or if there's a color you do see, and you don't want to use that, that's okay. You make it your own. You allow the photo, or the place that you're in, to be your inspiration, and then you take it wherever you want to take it. That's definitely the beauty of art.

I have my water; I have my darker field, and then the lighter areas of the field. I'm going to continue blocking in and finding a little more detail. I'm going to keep this drawing pretty simple, but I just want to bring in a little bit of shadowing. I'm using a combination of blue and black, just to show that there's a shadow where the grass meets the water. I'm just using my pastel, I'm moving it through that area where they meet, putting down black, and then I'll put a little blue over it. Eventually what I'm going to do is I'm going to blend it. I'm just going to take my fingers, and through those darker areas, move right down the page, to show a sense of reflection, and a sense of shadow.

As I continue, I can work on this for as long or as short as I want. Right now, it's almost like an abstract landscape. If I were going to continue, I would bring in more reflections of the white, I would bring in more of a sense of light, and more of a sense of movement. I am not concerned about making this exactly like the photo I'm looking at. I'm allowing the photo to inspire me, and then I'm taking it to a whole different place. I'm also just going to just now move into this field of green. There are some more lights and darks. To be creative, I'm going to use some hot pink, and mix that hot pink with the green, to just suggest another shade of green. You can see, I'm just making big, broad strokes. I'm just going to put a little darker blue on top of that pink. I'm just going to really, really blend right through. Lastly, I'm going to come back in with my yellow. I'm going to add some touches of yellow and allow some touches of yellow to come through, because really, all the field is in the back, is a continuation of the darker grass in the front.

I'm going to allow that yellow section to intersect a little more with the green section. As I continue, and I would plan to continue this, perhaps I'll work on it for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, whatever I choose. I'm going to just continue to bring more and more detail, really just focusing on these blocks of color. All a pastel landscape is are lots of different blocks of color, lots of shapes of color, mixing together. Little-by-little-by-little, you start to feel a sense of movement, you start to sense a feeling of depth, and you really start to sense a feeling of the Earth. As you continue your landscape, enjoy connecting to whatever it is that's the inspiration for you, and most importantly, relax, enjoy the experience of drawing, enjoy using the color, and your own sense of self-expression.

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