Sunlit Forest, oil pastel

Have you ever seen a forest where you can see through the trees a sunlit portion?  For me, I’ve always wondered how can one small area be so beautiful.  Where the sun shines so bright the strong rays highlight the tree branches and their tips and all else behind and around that area are shrouded in shade – now that would be a cool scene to try and capture with oil pastels.

Sunlit Forest, is an oil pastel (10×8) painted on a gesso-prepared hardboard using Senneliers, Holbeins and Neopastel brands.  The tools used to spread the pastels were my fingers, clay shapers, a painters knife and a razor.  I started with an underpainting of ultramarine and white acrylic paints – love doing value study underpaintings.  I rarely paint sun-streaked forests, mainly because the subject seems a bit complicated for OPs whereas smearing the pastel to create the illusion of sun streaks can quickly turn to mud, but when I saw this scene I wanted to give it a try.   So I went for it ~

Summer is quickly closing out, best wishes for a wonderful weekend.  Click onto the image for a larger view.

Sunlit Forest

A lot of liberty was taken with the reference image, taken by Thomas Habemann, an incredible watercolorist from pmp.


About Mary

Oil Pastelist
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94 Responses to Sunlit Forest, oil pastel

  1. Gloria Ester says:

    Wow, this is beautiful. I love the lighting in it, another one of my favorites.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Gloria for your enthusiastic response to the painting – I really appreciate it. It was a fun scene to do in oil pastels!

  2. My goodness its beautiful! I wish I knew how to properly paint with oil pastels

    • Mary says:

      Such a wonderful comment Cindy. And here I’m taking a short break from oil pastels to paint some with acrylics. It’s been a rewarding and fun experience.

  3. Jan Raats says:

    Great painting Mary. One I will use as inspiration for the small forest painting I’m working in

  4. tedgiffin says:

    I love your oil pastels. I was telling a friend of your mastery of the medium. It seems you have total control. Love it, gorgeous work!

    • Mary says:

      What a beautiful compliment! Thank you so much – really though I’ve a ways to go in learning about the medium. It has its limits, like glazing (can’t do it) and very subtle hue ranges are difficult to develop even with layers, but despite these there are rich qualities that are beautiful to work with. Thanks again Ted!

      • tedgiffin says:

        Your response is like many artists. B.B King the blues player once said near the end of his life, that his main regret was not practicing guitar enough. And he was the King of the Blues. I remain critical of myself. Pat yourself on the back, rightly deserved. I am certain you will continue to improve. take care

        • Mary says:

          Thank you Ted – I really appreciate your generous feedback and comments. it’s been a great medium to keep me challenged and engaged.

  5. nutsfortreasure says:

    Beautiful work Mary

  6. You definitely have a knack for capturing Gaia’s innate beauty. ❤

  7. Incredible use of blue, it makes the light ethereal.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Brenda. I have to say it was very cool to see that the scene was working out as I painted over the ultramarine blue underpainting. I didn’t know if it was going to be too much, but it worked out and gave the kind of warm feel and cool shadows I was hoping for.

  8. One of my favorite scenes-light in a forest. You did the magic justice! Really lovely, Mary!

  9. aFrankAngle says:

    When taking an up-close and personal look, love the wispy look you captured in the breakthrough light.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Frank, I’m so glad that you looked closely at what was going on in the woods. It was a very exciting piece to work on – glad you enjoyed it.

  10. elisa ruland says:

    There is something so special about walking along a wooded path that suddenly comes alive with sunlight. You’ve captured this so beautifully Mary.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Elisa – I agree with you, the warm sun bringing you in closer to the one spot that lights the forest. Magical, right? Thanks again ~

  11. exiledprospero says:

    Sun-drenched forests are the loci of myths and should be painted again and again. And the stories themselves, why they need to be retold.

    • Mary says:

      I really agree with you Propsero there is something so magical about their presence, yes loci of myths as you describe. Perhaps there will be a painting or two more of forests this season, maybe with a story around them. Thank you so much – always enjoy your response to my pieces.

  12. Just the type of scene that I love too. How can branches against a plain sky be so simple and complicated to capture at the same time? Well done Mary, lovely picture

  13. It is beautiful, Mary. Lovely work! 🙂

  14. ladyfi says:

    Such a lovely title for a fabulous painting.

  15. Susan Feniak says:

    This is a stunner Mary! A view I can gaze at for ages. If only the sun would stay there a bit longer lighting a path threw the wood. Brightening and highlighting. While all else is still and dark. Hope you had a good weekend. XX

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Susan, really appreciate it – love reading your description. A great weekend, hope yours was as well. Can’t believe that we are already into mid-week.

  16. Beautiful, Mary. I’d like to be walking along that path right now. 🙂

  17. jvandervlugt says:

    This is gorgeous. I’m thinking one of my favorites. I love the colours of the evergreen tree, the winding road and the shadows across the road. I want to walk my dog down this road. 😊

  18. The more I see your works, the more I feel how talented you are…. 🙂

  19. Anonymous says:

    This is so beautiful….and you have captured the play of light so very well. Janet.

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Janet, the brilliance of the light was what attracted me to the scene – thanks for mentioning the light I was a bit unsure how it would play up in the end. Thanks again ~ have a great week.

  20. farbvielfalt says:

    Hi Mary, I love this painting, the sun really glints through the forest and how the underpainting shines through you managed very well!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much and especially for mentioning the underpainting. You are really right this time the underpainting came through like none other that I’ve done. Appreciate your feedback, means a lot – have a great week ahead!

  21. Paul Beech says:

    Mary, what a gorgeous sunlit glade! With Wepre Woods on my doorstep, yes, I delight in ancient woodland too – the cathedral calm, the sudden echoing cry of a bird, the air of mystery… In Wepre stand the ruins of 13th century Ewloe Castle, and often I fancy I hear the clash of swords in medieval combat. Then there’s the legend of “Nora the Nun”…

    How well your pictures always brighten the mind.

    My very best,


  22. dorannrule says:

    I always think “This one is my favorite.” I am thinking that now. I absolutely love your sunlit forest.

    • Mary says:

      I’m so happy that you’ve enjoyed this piece Dorann! You live in the enchanted area of beautiful hills and forests, I’ll bet you’ve witnessed many a scene in your neck of the “woods.” Thank you my friend!

  23. Resa says:

    Sigh! Sublime!

  24. Mary, you possess a genuine gift to be able to create such beauty with your art. As always, keep up the wonderful work. I look forward to seeing more work from you in the future.

  25. anna77dennis says:

    I love the colours you have chosen, it is a really beautiful painting!

  26. A.PROMPTreply says:

    Yum! I really love this one, Mary. Seems to me you’re branching out (I know very bad pun there) into a wider repertoire these days. What really hit me about this was the almost blue tones in the background and of course that dappled sunlight peeking through on the path…you captured that very well. Also very much a fan of the “ruts” in the pathway letting us know that we aren’t the first to have traveled here even though we’ve managed a solitary jaunt for the moment….

    • Mary says:

      Awesome thoughts on this painting A! I really enjoyed reading your feedback and you wandered through the scene. I wanted to keep the background cool against the warm sunlight, so the underpainting in ultramarine really set the stage for me in that regard.

  27. Absolutely gorgeous!

  28. Nice work Mary! I really like the dappled light in the foreground. ~Rita

  29. Nicodemas says:

    Mary this is so, so beautiful! One of my favorites! I think all your paintings are my favorites. 🙂

  30. Simla Barki says:

    Gorgeous, I love it!

  31. Gorgeous painting, Mary. I just showed this to hubby and he said “Wow!” 😃

  32. Such a peaceful path to explore. It’s beautiful, Mary!

  33. Leya says:

    This is my kind of landscape – the forest with its glittering spots of light and sun, shadows and leaves. Wonderfully caught, Mary!

  34. Painting for Joy says:

    I love it. Love the contrasts and the shadows on the path. Very nice Mary.

  35. Ah, Mary, the light works perfectly. Magical image! 🙂 Happy weekend, my friend. 🙂

  36. It looks like an enchanted forest and even better enlarged! Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Mary says:

      So great to hear from you! Thanks very much for your feedback, cool “like an enchanted forest” – love it! Have a great weekend too!

  37. debiriley says:

    lovely. wonderful sense of depth thru the fabulous Background!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Debi for your artist thoughts on this piece – so glad you mentioned the background I was wondering how it would read to others. Appreciate it! Have a wonderful weekend.

  38. cindy knoke says:

    You are so talented!

    • Mary says:

      Hi Cindy, thanks so much for your compliment – you know I do appreciate your support and encouragement. I feel better after working in the yard – 90+ temps will take it out of you.

  39. Alok Singhal says:

    That’s an incredible work, Mary…came out very good. I would have loved to see a larger size here (i know i can click on it though, but many people would not do it)

  40. Amy says:

    Sunlit Fores is so beautiful, Mary. I feel like I’m walking on this trail. 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Amy, loved reading your thoughts. The scene reminds me of when I was growing up and there was a patch of woods by our house that had a patch of sunlight like this.

  41. Yes!! I love that kind of scene, where it’s darkened by nearby trees, but there’s a brilliant sunlit place just beyond….It’s like the light at the end of a tunnel, or a promise to a dark present that the future is going to be brighter. Wonderful painting, Mary.

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much Cynthia – this type of scene was a big stretch for me. I really appreciate reading your feedback and thoughts, the part about light at the end of the tunnel – I could totally relate. Thank you and hope you have a wonderful weekend, Maine weather and temps should be awesome this time of year.

  42. Lovely, Mary. You really do have a way with trees. Well done! Happy Weekend.

  43. Lee says:

    Very beautiful, have a great weekend.

  44. Paul Militaru says:

    So beautiful Mary !!! 🙂

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