Artist Technique Depicting Grass in a Painting



Hello art lovers out there! Today we are going to show you a technique on how to depict grass in a painting. There are two methods that I use: one in the studio using an airbrush to soften, the other when painting Plein Air (Painting outdoors in natural light). Hopefully it’s an approach you find useful in your painting as well.

As we have talked about in past blogs and videos, “Artist Technique Depicting Ground Texture” and “Technique for Wall Texture” (check those out if you haven’t already), I like to wet the board first, which allows the paint to go down smooth and even. But it can’t be too wet.

Overly wet, glossy surface of Illustration board.

To the left is too wet. Let it dry to a low sheen or dull look which is not reflective as we see here.

This enables us to lay in colors, both light, dark, and medium values, all in one swoop as much as possible.

Why do we want all of the values in at the start? The advantage of doing it this way when painting grass is that it allows you to stroke the dark areas into the light areas to simulate grass blades. So where it’s dark, you stroke up into the light areas; and where it’s light you stroke it up into dark areas. This gives us the sense of grass blades showing up without having to paint every single detail of grass blades.

I’m utilizing an airbrush to keep the surface damp which allows it to be a little softer and not so crisp in the edge. It gives a mood to the overall grass look. Try to mix some of the subtle values that you see and pull blades of grass out of those subtle values into values just above it. You want your color mixing to be as close to the tones of each area as you possibly can. Think of it as shapes of silhouetted grass, light values over a dark value pulling those strokes of one silhouette out on top of another, on top of another and so on. Then put only a few blades of grass inside the silhouette itself.

silhouetted grass blades in dark, medium, and light value gradient.

That builds a look of  a grassy field without overworking it with every single blade being painted.

Now on the right side, I approach it slightly different as if I was doing a Plein air painting. No airbrushing involved here. (Seeing the video will give you a better concept of my stroking action).

Paintings of in-studio, airbrushed grass compared to Plein air, brush painted grass.


I like using older, worn out brushes where the bristles are uneven.

Old, worn paintbrush with uneven bristles.

I push against the brush or I’ll use it sideways and push it up. It gives me loose, irregular strokes and broken up areas. You can see where it leaves rough areas of paint that looks like irregular grass in the distance.

Technique to push against the brush when painting grass blades with an old, uneven brush. Using the brush sideways when painting grass blades with an old, uneven brush.


That’s the best way to ruin a brush quickly. It’s the reason for using older, worn brushes.

The principles remain the same regarding pushing dark shapes into light shapes and pushing light strokes into darker strokes above it. You can pull a few blades of grass within that shape or silhouette, but not too many because you want it to feel (look) simple and not overworked. That’s the overall concept to get a feel for grass without having to do every single blade. Here’s what the final results look like. A field of grass that’s not overly painted or overly stroked:

A field of grass that's not overly painted or overly stroked.

Hope you get a sense of how to approach grass in a more simplified fashion. So which method do you like the most? Is it the technique using the airbrush or the straight painting technique of just the brush alone? Whichever…

Hopefully it’ll be a lot of fun when you paint. Try it out and let me know what you think. See you next time!