The first image shows our reference photo. This is a lovely warm landscape scene. In many cases when painting landscapes, the bottom and top of the painting will be darker in value. The value will get lighter towards the center of the scene. This can be exaggerated when painting to establish good aerial perspective and therefore a realistic sense of depth in the painting.

Aerial perspective can also be seen when looking at the actual shape of the clouds. Clouds that are closer to the viewer are larger in size, but also more “round” in shape. The cloud will appear flatter in shape as the distance increases.

I am using a neutral colored Canson Mi-Teintes paper. Canson paper has a textured side and a smooth side. I prefer to paint on the smooth side to avoid creating a pattern. Paper limits you to the amount of pigment you can apply, but is a nice surface to work on if you like to blend the pastels.

Use a medium valued pastel to draw in the basic shapes. Here I give a general idea of where the clouds will be, the horizon line, and the mountains. No need to draw in all the details. Keep it as simple as possible but make sure your drawing is accurate.

The first step is to block in the major shapes and to determine the key values. The key values are the darkest and lightest section in your painting. When examining my reference photo I decided that the darkest shape is part of the mountains. Here I chose a very dark blue Rembrandt color.

I also blocked in parts of the sky by choosing a medium valued grey. Grey is the foundation value for the sky and I will later build on top of this color to make it warmer. Focussing on establishing the value accurately is key.

More blocking in takes place. Notice how the foreground is darker in value at the bottom and lighter in value towards the mid section.

After blocking in the sky, mountains and foreground, I decided to blend the pastel to create a smooth under painting.  The top section of the sky received a purple layer. I added a light brown earthy green color to parts of the sky. This greenish color is ideal to mimic the atmosphere in a stormy sky.

The same green was added in the mid section of the foreground.