Demo: Evoking a Mood in a Landscape Painting

See how Nancy Nowak creates a landscape painting that’s full of emotion in this three-step demonstration from Plein Air Magazine.

By Robert K. Carsten

Step 1
On her preferred surface, 400 grade paper, which she adheres to archival foam board, Nowak creates a loose watercolor underpainting — improvising and allowing colors to drip and bleed into one another— roughly based upon the forms in her subject matter.

landscape painting demo


Step 2
Keeping the application loose and expressive, Nowak begins to apply pastel, working all over the design. Unison pastels are her workhorse, so she typically applies them first, then later adds Schmincke and finally, Terry Ludwig.

landscape painting demo


Final Step
Since colors appear brighter when adjacent to neutrals, Nowak takes care to use neutral colors next to some of the orange in the foliage to make the orange appear brighter and have more pop. She uses both value and color temperature contrast along with complementary contrast — yellow greens against red violets — to bring attention to her center of interest, the small tree.

Nancy Nowak, "Moment’s Peace," 2016, pastel, 9 x 12 in., Collection the artist, Plein air and studio
Nancy Nowak, “Moment’s Peace,” 2016, pastel, 9 x 12 in., Collection the artist, Plein air and studio

Related Article:

Making an Impression

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