Path to the Beach: A Pastels Tutorial

The very first time Nana taught us a pastel lesson was a little over two years ago, in February 2010. That day, we created one of our favorite subjects: the beach! Funny thing was, she was snowed in at our house. Inches of snow were piled up outside. But inside, we created puffy clouds, an ocean view and a path to that beach…

Nana brought her palette of pastels. Just looking in her box, I can see why she loves it. Why she’s a Master Artist in this medium.

The impromptu lesson took 15 minutes. She opened her box. Taught four children about the layers. The  “fisting” and blending. Where to put the purple so it becomes the sunset color in a cloud.

1. First you draw the ground. Just brown. Then mix in a little purple and green.

2. Next is the sky.

Always darkest at the top, then blending lighter as you reach the ground. Layers of color… Color Nana loves. And you can tell…

3. Then you “fist it in”. It just works best that way.  Just ball your hand into a fist and use it to blend the colors. See Bubba blending his sky?

4. Now watch this. You can make the ocean with one line.

And everybody gets to be messy.

Beautiful messiness.

Look at those colors!

Next comes Nana’s favorite part – clouds. You can tell in how she describes the steps.

5. Draw some light squigglies. And fist them in.

6. Next, add some sunset colors. Purples, pinks.

7. Then, tap, tap, tap, tap in some sea oats. (by turning your brown pastel stick on its side)

What fun!

8. You might decide to add a path to the beach.

Simply draw your path over your brown and blend the path just a little on the sides.

9. And lastly, pick a color to sign your name.

Thank you Nana!

…for sharing your talents with us. Your love.

Will you please bring your pastels all the time?


  • Print this lesson: Just click the green, ‘print-friendly’ button at the top, left of this post. You can choose to print the lesson with or without photos. By clicking the ‘remove photos’ box, you may print the text directions only.
  • A note on chalk pastels: Pastels are an easy, forgiving medium. Fun for children and adults alike! Details on the pastels and paper we use, how and where to purchase, and links to all of Nana’s other pastel lessons (50 lessons now) are all contained in the post Pastels plus links to tutorials. A simple set is very affordable.
  • The practical aspects of a mess: Pastels are blessedly messy. We always have baby wipes close by to wipe hands. We wear something we don’t mind getting stained or don a smock.

Do you see how this very first chalk pastel lesson began our love for pastels?


  1. 3

    Nana says

    What WONDERFUL fun we have had! And the children have grown in their talents and with their patience at our not-so-frequent lessons! Soon…we will be back at creating marvelous art!

    • 5


      Thank you Barb! That is neat to think about sunrise on the Atlantic and sunset on the Pacific. Though the beach we go to is in Florida and faces south – so we have BOTH!! Can’t wait to get back there.

  2. 6

    Jennifer says

    Hi! Thanks for sharing this great info!!! My kids and I have just begun to “dabble” in pastels and your tutorials are priceless to us. I also have a question…I have to know about the table you are working on for your beach picture. It is EXACTLY like my table in my breakfast nook. Mine was made by my aunt’s dad in Taylorsville, NC approx. 50 – 60 years ago. I have thought it to be one-of-a-kind….but now that I see your table…I know it must be at least a two-of-a-kind. I really would love to hear about the table and thanks again for sharing all of your wonderful ideas!

    • 7


      Hi Jennifer – we LOVE our table. It folds up nicely against the wall if we want it too. Though that hardly ever happens since it is a busy place. Here’s what Nana has to say. Because the table was passed down to us from her sister/my aunt… “The table in my daughter’s kitchen was made, like yours, at least 55 years ago by a skilled, unknown craftsman at our local lumber supply store. Stephens Lumber Company was owned by a long-time trusted friend of my father’s…and the table came about because my mother stated that she needed some sort of table to seat 5 folks (three girls and 2 parents) in a long, narrow den that could be moved up out of the way after meals. So was born our beloved family table. It has been witness to the three girls growing up and making their own families…the top refinished with care and passed on to my daughter Tricia’s large and lively family. Ah…the stories that table could tell!”

      • 8

        Jennifer says

        Thanks for the info…you just never know about these things. I like the lazy susan in the middle…we really don’t use it for that purpose(to pass things to the other side), but still love it. Thanks again and we look forward to following your pastel adventures! Have a great day!!!

  3. 9


    I am guessing that is Nana’s pic that is shown last. It is simply beautiful. I am going to check out her lessons.

    You r post has inspired ME to want to draw with pastels. I hope my daughter also wants to get involved. I will have to get her over the messy part of it. I am intrigued by the clouds being created by ‘fisting. “They look real.

    Thanks for sharing Nana with all of us.

    A homeschool Mom who enjoys blogging. Our favorite eighth grade curriculum.

  4. 10


    This is wonderful! So very inspiring. We have been painting as we study art history. Pastels will be added to the list. I can’t wait to start!

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