Think grass is just a background detail? Think again! It’s important to learn how to paint grass that adds to your composition.
Like any good book or movie, every detail has a purpose and is a part of the total story. This is the same with every part or your painting. The style of grass in your art may be simple, but it has its own important role.
So forget simple green washes — you can create so much more depth and interest by learning how to paint grass with simple but impactful details.
Read on and I will show you how to paint grass in several ways so that you can find the right match for your piece.
There a a few types of grass you might want to include in your painting. Below, I walk you through how to sketch and watercolor paint each style.
Step 1: Choose your style of grass.
Start by sketching in (lightly) where you want to place grass. Start with one of these three types:
The lines are short, even, straight and generous. This will be like a carpet of grass with no great detail to take the eye from the main subject.
This has a little more presence in your painting because it is full and thick in a few places. This grass style is good for a woodsy, overgrown effect.
This is one of my favorite ways to paint grass. It brings movement and life to the landscape in a painting. Wind-swept grass works great in many settings, especially when you want grass to project emotion in your painting.
Step 2: Give the grass a wash of color
Wet as much of the grass area as you can handle at a time and give it a wash of color. Keep the saturation a little uneven.
For the clumping and wind-swept grasses, dab in more saturation of color while still wet, right in the thickest part of the clumps.
Step 3: Add individual stalks of grass as details
When this first layer of paint is dry, use a pointed paintbrush in a sharp, upward motion to paint grass lines on your paper. Your green grass blades need to be a darker shade of the same hue as your wash.
Here is how they will look when finished.
Tip: There is no rule for exactly which stage of your painting you should do your grass finishes. In general, you have to decide when it can be applied so that it will not interfere with painting anything else — especially your main subject(s).
Creating distance when painting grass
Grass can be a useful element to convey distance or perspective. I have a tier method that works well: I stack staggering rows upon rows of grass in declining heights. Read on for a step-by-step tutorial for painting grass in the distance.
Step 1: Create the rows
Draw your rows of grass. I have sketched four horizontal rows of grass in the image below.
Though staggering, each row going toward the background is a little shorter in height, thus creating the effect of being farther away with each row. For interest, I have wind-swept some of the grass in the middle.
Flowers or other foliage can create depth, too. Note that the flowers are larger in the front row and they grow smaller with each row as they “move” into the distance.
Step 2: Paint the colors
Paint your grass. Following the steps detailed above, add your color wash. If flowers are part of the landscape, using a masking medium will protect them from getting any color on them at this stage.
Step 3: Paint the blades at different heights
Add the grass blades in a stacking manner with each tier or row becoming shorter in height that the previous row. The shortest row at the top looks farthest away, giving the illusion of distance.
Quick tips for painting grass
Painting grass becomes a little trickier when working around other objects.
For grass at the bottom of a fence or gate, for example, when you draw the fence posts, do not fully finish the bottoms and leave them uneven. Fill those blank spaces with grass and flowers. Apply paint the same way as described above.
For walkways, stone paths or even ponds, lightly sketch your grass placement around the space.
Paint your path or stones before giving a color wash to the grass.
As you apply the color wash, draw up some of the green wash onto the grass blades that are visible on the path, stones or pond.
Apply the grass blade detail and you are finished.