I look forward to meeting you.  Here is a preview of the lesson we will be covering.  This will help you prepare a little bit before the class starts!


This lesson is a picture guide on how to paint The Colors of Autumn Breeze. This will help you with creating atmospheric clouds, and is a different lesson approach. Join in the community or email me if you have questions. You can click on the images to see large versions. Use the BACK button in your browser to return to the lesson after viewing the larger images. Happy painting!


The first step in painting The Color  Of Autumn Breeze, is to tone the canvas.  I am using a mixture of Burnt Sienna and a touch of Raw Umber.  I mist the canvas first to allow the paint to go on smoothly and cover the entire canvas.

Toning the canvas sets the overall color, or tone of the painting.  We will be using transparent layers throughout the painting, so the burnt sienna color will show through and affect each layer of paint we put on.


_21A1565  Next we will add more raw umber to our burnt sienna.  I’m also adding a touch of cobalt teal to create a grayer feel to the color.  I am using a medium round brush with natural bristles.  They are a bit on the stiff side.  With a scrubbing brush stroke I start scrubbing in the shadows of the layers of clouds.




_21A1567  We can start creating the composition.  Try to think about the direction of your clouds, and the angle of the clouds.  You want to create an interesting composition that has some movement to it.  That is why I start creating more of an angle to the clouds in the foreground.  I also use less cobalt teal and more burnt sienna in my mix when creating the shadows of the clouds in the foreground.



_21A1568  By using more burnt sienna in the foreground we are creating warmer shadows.  This makes the shadows in the distance look like they are further away because they are cooler.

We can start to create the shape of the top of the cloud with this warmer color as well.



_21A1570  Using the same color we used for the foreground clouds we can switch to a flat brush and create a small hill or mountain in the distance.  Just add a little water so you can do a few long brush strokes across the canvas at the horizon line.  Try to make the brush strokes organic looking and free.



_21A1573  For the next step add more raw umber to your paint mixture.  We will continue with the flat brush so we can make bigger, thicker brush strokes.  Now we will start blocking in more defined shadows of the clouds in the foreground.  Make sure you are maintaining the unique angles and shapes of the clouds.




_21A1576  Once you’ve created shapes and shadows you are happy with you will want to start layering in some color.  I am still using the flat brush.  Mix some zinc white and burnt sienna to start with.  You can add a touch of raw umber as well to gray it out if it is too orange/red.  Start in the middle of the foreground cloud and scrub on a thin layer of white and raw umber.  Pushing the color out to the dark edges.  The zinc white will make the color transparent allowing the dark areas to show through.


_21A1581  As you add layers to the middle ground, add a little cobalt teal to cool off your gray/red color.  Continue layering with your zinc white to build up more opaque (solid) layers.    You can also use a misting bottle to keep each layer transparent, allowing previous layers to show through.

You can also go back to your shadow color to add in contours and shadows where you feel they might create more depth in your clouds.


_21A1590  Once we’ve created some nice shapes, and given our clouds some structure we will start blocking in a little color in the sky.  Mist the canvas first and then thin out some cobalt teal with water on your palette.  Paint on some very thin layers in the open sky area at the top of the canvas.  Try to keep the paint thin, but don’t let it run down your canvas.



_21A1604  Now we will add a touch more zinc white to our burnt sienna.  You can also start adding very small amounts of yellow ochre to warm up the highlight color even more.  Start in the middle of the clouds (mist the canvas if necessary) and add another layer of lighter color.  Don’t cover the entire cloud, but try to think where there might be puffy contours and highlight those areas.  Allow shadows and variation to give your clouds a fluffy look.


_21A1601  Next add in some highlights to the clouds in the distance.  Using  a small touch of cobalt teal mixed with burnt sienna, raw umber and zinc white you can add a nice gray to the top layers of each cloud in the distance.  Use a very thin layer of paint and just lightly scrub it on keeping your edges soft and wispy.



_21A1607 Continue layering in your lighter colors.  Add zinc white and a touch of yellow ochre each time to brighten and lighten your color.  Remember to use thin layers.  You can start creating contours and shape within your clouds now.  As you move off into the distance add a touch of cobalt teal to cool your highlights off to create distance.


_21A1608  For the next step I am thinning out some cobalt teal.  Mist the canvas and with an extremely thin layer of paint, create some reflected highlights on the backside of the contours of your clouds.  this will give an atmospheric look to your clouds and help harmonize them with your sky.  Do this sparingly.




_21A1610  In this picture you can see I added the cobal teal washes in shadow areas as well.  Remember to do this sparingly so you maintain the overall reddish tone to your painting.




_21A1611With some thinned out cobalt teal we can add another layer to our sky area surrounding the clouds.  Keep it thin, but don’t let it run.





_21A1614  With more zinc white added to the mix we can continue adding brighter highlights and contours.  You can go back and forth between your round brush and flat brush to create different types and sizes of brush strokes.  Remember to maintain your shadows.  You can do this by keeping your paint layers thin, allowing shadows to show through if you go over them a little bit.




_21A1618  We can move down through the clouds and create more prominent highlights.  Just remember to keep the layers thin and add cobalt teal as you move closer to the horizon to keep the colors cooler.  Also remember to maintain your shadows on the underside of the clouds.  It is okay to scrub over them a bit with a thin layer to create a bit of a hazy look.



_21A1621  Once we are happy with the overall look to our clouds we can start adding in some color to the sky near the horizon.  Using naples yellow I lightly scrub in a layer around the clouds.  Thinning out the paint isn’t necessary, but you may want to mist the canvas first to create a semi transparent color.  Add a touch of zinc white as you move closer to the horizon.



_21A1622  With our naples yellow and a little zinc white we can define the horizon line.  Try to keep the line hazy and avoid sharp edges.  To do this, just make sure you use a scrubbing motion rather than a long dragging brush stroke.




_21A1625  Next I am adding a thin layer of naples yellow over my cobalt teal sky.  This will give a luminous effect.  Make sure to keep the layer thin to allow the cobalt teal to show through.  You can mist the canvas, or thin out the paint on your palette.  I prefer to do both, to ensure the paint layer will be thin enough.




_21A1630  Now I like to add a little naples yellow and more yellow ochre to my highlight color and add in some of those warm tones throughout the clouds in the foreground.  Continue adding thin, lighter layers and build up contours within the cloud.





_21A1631  Next mix a little naples yellow with more zinc white.  With a scrubbing motion redefine your horizon line and then build up the lighter color through the bottom portion of the sky.






_21A1635  With a larger flat brush take some raw umber and burnt sienna with a touch of cobalt teal and paint big swaths across the hills.  Again, this layer is thinned out with some water.





_21A1637  After painting in some large swaths, mist over them with your spray bottle, allowing them to dissolve down the canvas a little bit.  Just spray enough so the paint starts to move, not run.




_21A1639  While the bottom of the canvas is setting up, lets move back up to the top of the cloud and work in some shadows.   Thin out some burnt sienna and raw umber and just scrub in some shapes and shadows.  Be free with the brush to allow a more organic painterly look.



_21A1640  Build in some brighter layers with more zinc white.  At this point we are getting closer to white, and further away from gray.





_21A1653  With your large background brush block in some raw umber mixed with burnt sienna.  We want this layer to be a little bit thicker, but not completely opaque.  Maintain the lighter hills in the distance.  Make sure to paint below them about an inch.




_21A1654  With your smaller flat brush go in and blur out the defining line that we just created.  We don’t want a defined line in this painting.  Use some choppy vertical brush strokes to blend out any definition.





_21A1657  Next we will start adding in our tree trunks.  Using a small round brush we can paint in the shape of our trunks.  It is okay if they are somewhat transparent.  You will have to add water to the paint to make it easier to work with.  Try to create unique shapes and angles to your trunks.  Also vary the thickness to give it a more believable look.



_21A1659  Start creating branches with the very tip of the brush.  You can go over the a few times to make them more solid (opaque).  Try to create blurry edges to the trunks.  To do this use a quicker, defining brush stroke.  A flick of the wrist is all it takes.




_21A1661  With our flat brush we can start blocking in the foliage.  I like to use dabbing, choppy vertical brush strokes to define the tree.  We are using raw umber with a tiny touch of burnt sienna.  Make sure you allow spaces between the foliage so we can add branches, and so we can see through to the sky.  You don’t want to create just a solid mass.  Leaves move, and grow sporadically, so try to keep that in mind when painting the foliage.



_21A1662  Continue shaping the trees using short dabbing and quick swipes to create the foliage.  Notice how I leave spacing, and “holes to the background.”  This creates more depth in the trees and the painting itself.  Continue until you’ve created a good solid base layer for the foliage.




_21A1663  Next add in branches into some of the ‘holes” or open spaces.  Make sure your foliage is connected to your trees with branches, and they aren’t just floating in space.






_21A1665  Now we can start adding some color.  Mix a little cadmium red dark with raw umber.  We will start dark and add lighter as we go.  Use similar brush strokes (dabbing/swiping) to create the highlight layers.  Just make sure you determine a light source (left, right, etc) and highlight toward your light source, leaving shadows on the side away from the light source.




_21A1666  Continue with this semi dark highlight layer through the trees.  The bottom of the trees foliage should mostly be in shadow.





_21A1671  Once you’ve created a good second layer, you can start with lighter highlights.  Add a little burnt sienna to the mix to harmonize it with the overall painting.  Using cadmium red dark, a tiny touch of raw umber, and a small touch of burnt sienna we can create the next layer in the tree.




_21A1674  Continue to add highlights toward your light source and leave shadow areas on the other side of the highlights.





_21A1675-2  While the brighter foliage layer is drying we can move down to painting the grass.  I want to keep it impressionistic so I’m just using quick vertical, overlapping brush strokes.  That way the tip of the brush give a grassy feel, but the overall strokes are blended together. I am using yellow ochre, with a tiny touch of burnt sienna.

Make sure you are leaving shadows around the trees.



_21A1675  You can add in a brighter layer by adding in zinc white.  Try not to overpower it with light color though.  You want to keep this in the midtone range.





_21A1682  With raw umber you can emphasize the shadows.  Don’t make them too dark.  Just used thinned out raw umber to make the shadows lay across the grass.  You can also dab the brush here and there to create bush like textures in the field.




_21A1684_2  Keep adding shadows, to create a unique composition.  As you can see the shadows come forward a little bit on a parallel angle to the clouds.   It creates a zig zag composition that the eye can easily follow.  Add in any highlights to the grass and foliage that you find necessary.  You can make it as bright or dark as you’d like.  Each level has its own personality.  Just make it your own.



_21A1686_2  You have now completed The Colors of Autumn Breeze!

Thank you for painting with me!  Happy painting!