Landscape pastel painting demo by Santa Fe Artist, Mike Mahon serves as tutorial on landscape using pastel colors to their best effect.

Landscape Painting Demonstrations

Mike Mahon hosts demonstrations on a wide variety of topics during his workshops to help aspiring and advanced artists alike to start, build and hone their skills. Whether your passion is pastel landscapes or oil portraits, his signature process is sure to help you with your expression and craft. Landscape pastel painting demo by Santa Fe Artist, Mike Mahon serves as tutorial on landscape using pastel colors to their best effect.

In this demonstration, Mahon shows his process from start to finish on one of his pastel artworks, “High Road to Taos Vista.” This pastel demonstration works with a photograph of the Taos Mountains, in northern New Mexico (Reference Photo). working on UART® sanded paper he does his initial carbon pencil sketch of the key forms, lines and relative positionings. He then lightly goes over his lines with a Sharpie so the drawing will not be washed out in the next step.

From here, Mahon walks artists through the initial splashes of color, first laying down light strokes of hard pastel (Fig. 2-6), and then establishing an underpainting base by brushing an odorless turpentine over the hard pastel (Fig. 3-6) working light to dark.

Using softer and softer pastels, he then refines the values and shapes as finished details begin to emerge (Fig. 7-8). Once that stage is completed, taking a step back and examining the broader view helps to highlight the areas in need of focus and finishing touches to create his masterpiece.

This is only one example of Mahon’s painting demonstrations, and more in-depth and personal training in technique is available by attending one of his workshops, held throughout the Santa Fe, Taos and greater New Mexico area. Visit the Events Calendar page for more information, or email [email protected] to be added to his notification list for upcoming workshops.

Mahon summarizes his basic painting process by saying,

“Once my under painting has established the overall color and value pattern of the painting, I can go straight to the center of interest and bring it to virtual completion. This is very important. The center of interest must work. If the center of interest is not successful, no matter how effective the rest of the painting is, the painting will be weakened.”


Working in roughly concentric circles around the center of interest out, I bring the rest of the painting to completion. All though I do work back and forth over the entire surface to some degree, I am careful to not skip around too much. Because the perception of value and color of a given shape is greatly affected by what the shape is next to, the painter must apply the major colors and values in a linked fashion. At least one edge of a given shape should be in contact with a value and color that has already been established correctly. This helps keep the the value and color relationships consistant thoughout the painting.

“The key to painting landscapes is learning to see and think in aesthetic catagories and to apply a consistent painting procedure, This is what I do and what I teach.”
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