Painting the Autumn Scene – Step by Step

Art Art Workshops Oil Painting Traditional Art

Autumn Scene is one subject I enjoy painting immensely due to the riot of colors it has. This time, while painting it on canvas, I decided to create a tutorial out of it. Here it is for anyone who’s enthusiastic about wet-on-wet oil paintings.

Step 1 – Make a rough composition sketch on paper


Step 2 – Choose your Colour Pallet – I chose this color pallet with lots of colors. You may choose your own, or a limited pallet, and mix ‘n match colors if you choose.

Tip : Use colors generously. Don’t skimp!

I did not use any medium like linseed oil etc, to paint this picture. I used turpentine to wash my brushes and occasionally dilute the paint.


Step 3 – Start painting the sky and mountains

  1. Turquoise Blue + Flake White – use these to place a light cover the top third of the canvas completely.
  2. Lightly paint some grey clouds, add some Flake white and merge them with the sky. This step is optional.
  3. With a flat fry brush, paint the jagged edges of the distant mountains. Do not load your brush with too much paint. Since the mountains are at a long distance, less detail is more!
  4. I used grey, Turqouise blue and Ivory black to block in the mountains. I let them overlap the lower part of the sky. The direction of light is decided to be from right to left. So the left side of the mountain peaks are made darker by mixing a bit of Ivory black.

Drag the dry brush roughly over the canvas to make the mountains appear jagged and rough.



Step 4 – Add highlights to the mountains

  1. Since the light is coming from right side, the highlights will appear on the right side of the peaks.
  2. Use Flake white to add random highlights using a dry brush. Slightly load the brush and drag it over the areas to be highlighted.



Step 5 – Block the areas of land and water body

  1. Use Burnt sienna and Turqoiuse Blue + Flake white to block land and water areas respectively. Observe how the land is divided into various uneven areas.
  2. Use large flat dry brush to block these areas. Do not load the brush with too much paint.



Step 6 – Paint distant trees and shrubs near to the mountains

  1. Load the flat brush slightly with sap green. Hold the brush such that it’s at right angle to the canvas, and dab the color in both areas (colored in yellow and green).
  2. After blocking the area in sap green, clean the brush, slightly load with chrome yellow, and dab it on canvas over the area (shown in yellow) previously painted with Sap green.



Step 7 – Paint distant trees and shrubs near to the mountains

  1. Use Burnt Sienna to indicate slopes as shown. Keep the brush moderately loaded.
  2. Use various colors like Burnt Sienna, Sap Green, Chrome yellow. Keep some blank space in between the shrubbery.




Step 8 – Paint distant trees and shrubs near to the mountains

Paint some mid-distance trees.

  1. First dab some Sap Green + Burnt Sienna + Ivory Black + Alizarine Crimson to create some dark background for the trees.
  2. Paint some tree barks using Flake White. Then dab some Sunshine Yellow (Chrome yellow + Flake White) to indicate highlights on their leaves.

Keep the brushstrokes fairly loose until this point.



Step 9 – Complete painting mid-Distance foliage till the far side of the water body

  1. Keep painting the foliage till you reach the water body. Note that the treeline is at a distance from the water body, and does not touch it.
  2. The distance between the treeline and water body is marked by low shrubs. Use Sunshine Yellow to mark some highlights.



Step 10 – Paint the water body

  1. Use Turquoise Blue to block in the water body. Don’t load the brush too much at this stage. Keep the paint plain and consistent.
  2. At the same time, paint foreground using Burnt Sienna and Sap Green to indicate various slopes in the foreground.



Step 11 – Ripples on the water

  1. Load some thick Flake White paint on the edge of the knife.
  2. Very carefully, touch the knife edge onto the canvas and gently slide horizontally.
  3. The paint streak should be perfectly parallel to the upper and lower edges of the canvas.
  4. Draw more random streaks of various lengths using Flake White and Sunshine Yellow.
  5. Paint a small tree on the lower left side – Bark using Burnt Sienna + Ivory Black and leaves using Alizarine Crimson (dab the brush).
  6. Paint a bush at the bottom of the tree using Chrome Yellow.



Step 12 – Start painting the foreground.

  1. Use Burnt Sienna + Ivory black to lightly paint some overlapping branches of a tree.
  2. Paint some dark grass using Burnt Sienna + Ivory Black + Alizarine Crimson + Sap Green at the left bottom corner.
  3. Let part of this grass overlap the bottom of the tree and bush.
  4.  Dab some Sap Green paint lightly on the darker parts of mountains to merge them with the greenery below.



Step 13 – Complete the bottom left side of the foreground, and paint a path across foreground.

  1. Paint a rock using Burnt Sienna + Ivory black + Ultramarine Blue + Mauve to paint a rock. Load the brush with fairly thick paint and use the dirty brush. Let the colors mix freely.
  2. Paint some more strands of grass, and highlight them with Sunshine yellow.
  3. Load the brush with thick Burn Sienna + Yellow Ochre to paint the slopes on the bottom right, and the trench areas near the path. Use Sunshine Yellow to paint the grass on far right side.
  4. Flank the road with grass using Sap Green + Sunshine Yellow.



Step 14 – Paint the leaves

Load a flat brush very heavily with Chrome Orange and start putting some leaves on the branches on top right branches.



Step 15 – Start painting the foreground.

  1. Load a flat brush with very thick Burnt Sienna + Ivory black to paint the branch. Paint more leaves over the branch with Chrome Orange.
  2. Then put some Burnt Sienna over these orange leaves. During all this, make sure a bit of the sky shows though the leaves.



Step 16 – Paint the leaves

  1. Use flat brush heavily loaded with Sunshine Yellow to highlight the orange leaves of the tree.
  2. I also included an overlapping branch at this stage on the top right side. Use Burnt Sienna + Flake White + Ivory Black + Sunshine Yellow for this branch.



 Aaaaand we are done!


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