Step by Step Guide for Painting Woodland Scenes

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Geoff Kersey Demonstrates Oil Painting Technique

Geoff Kersey photo inspiration

This photograph was the inspiration for Geoff Kersey’s step by step oil painting demonstration. Although he may be better known for his watercolor teachings (or “watercolour” if you are from the UK as he is) he is also a talented oil painter.

He actually claims to find oil painting to be relaxing.

I enjoy the immediacy and relative freedom of the medium compared to the more disciplined approach I employ with watercolour.

For his inspiration, Geoff took a walk in the woods. Springtime light and new growth accent the relatively simple scene.

For his paint choice, he used Winsor & Newton Griffin Alkyd paint. Quicker drying than traditional oils, allows for easier layering, while still handling pretty much like traditional oil paints. When a thinner coat of paint was desired, he thinned the paint with Liquin medium.

Geoff painted this scene on hardboard rather than canvas. He primed the board ahead of time.

For this painting he used a variety of colors, including:

  • French Ultramine
  • Magenta
  • Lemon Yellow
  • White
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Raw Sienna
  • Cadmium Red
  • Viridium

Step 1: Draw the composition on the primed board, with a focus on the perspective and placement of the path.

Step 2: Using a one-inch flat brush, Kersey blocks in the main shapes.

Step 3: Continue blocking in the composition, using a half-inch filbert brush (see below)

Geoff Kersey oil painting step 3

Step 4: In order to soften the shapes that were blocked in earlier Kersey uses a soft, squirrel hair filbert brush. Rapidly moving with light touch is important. This allows you to blend colors without smearing the paint.

Step 5: Drawing in the trees and adding foliage and grasses. For the greenery, Kersey uses a large fan brush

Step 6: Now painting in more detail, both in the foreground and the foliage. A No 2 brush works great for the light shining on the spring foliage.

As you can see, the painting was really taking shape, as I further increased the ‘light against dark’ effect by putting in a stronger tone (Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine) all along the right-hand edge of the path to suggest the shadows and emphasize the deep dip between the grassy banks.

Kersey also begins to paint in some of the stones in the path and the wall at this point.

Step 7: This is the last step in the painting. Adding more foreground detail, including a tree, more stones, and flowers–even some weeds for authenticity!

Geoff Kersey oil painting step 7

Final words of wisdom:

  • In general, work ‘fat over lean’, thinning the initial colours before applying thicker paint in subsequent layers.

  • Try not to overwork! A fast, loose approach is more effective for capturing that fresh, spring feel.


Thanks to Geoff Kersey and ArtistsAndIllustrators.co.uk, read the entire demonstration here, including his color mixes and photos for each step along the path, as it were.

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