Creating a Green Blurry Background for a Squirrel Portrait

I’m excited to guide you through the process of drawing a green blurry background for a squirrel portrait, a lesson from my Animal Art Club. In the club, we delve into realistic animal portraits using pastels, and today’s focus is a squirrel I’ve previously drawn with a pumpkin, surrounded by autumn leaves. If you’re interested in joining the club, check the link below to join the waitlist and be the first to know when we reopen.

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Getting Started with the Background

  • Light Yellow (200.5)
  • Yellow Ochre (277.5)
  • Olive Green (625)
  • Permanent Yellowish Green (633.5)
  • Raw Umber (408.7)
  • Gold Ochre (231.7)
  • Black (700.5)
  • A piece of Schmincke White

Step-by-Step Drawing Instructions

Getting Started

Okay, now we are drawing the yellowish-greenish background. I have decided to do it this time with Rembrandt soft pastel sticks. I have some out of a set called ‘portrait selection.’ From this selection of 30 sticks, I have chosen light yellow, yellow ochre, various greens like olive and a very light green, raw umber, and an orangey brown. I also use a piece of Schmincke white, which is a very soft pastel stick, perfect for brightening up the yellow.

Blending Techniques

Let’s start here in the middle where the background is a bit more yellowish. I start with the lighter color, using the yellow here, and I go over in so circles and plot in a bit of the yellow pastel pigment. What I always love to do is to use this white because it’s so soft and it has a really high color vibration, and there is a lot of pastel pigment on the paper immediately. I then blend it here in so circles and then add again more pigment with the yellow.

Mixing Techniques

Using raw umber and gold ochre, I add warmth and darker shades. It’s fantastic how these pastels allow for easy mixing, letting us create a beautifully blurred background effect.

Refining the Edges

Near the squirrel, I plot in this olive green, a nice middle green here in the set of Rembrandt, not so dark. I go in here with the Rembrandt soft pastel stick and then near the squirrel, I would blend it with the paper stamp as the fingers are too broad and too big.

Then in the middle, we can use the finger where it’s not so much space to work with fingers. Here I use the cotton swab for example and blend these layers together.

Let’s also bring in a raw umber here near the pumpkin a bit, or darken that part down here with black, so to mix a darker green and go over once more with green here over the black.

You can try things out and play a little bit around and and try out how colors work and how the color mixing process is working yes and then let’s go here upwards and blend the yellow a bit with the green again or add another layer of yellow here over it and blend it downwards you always can add another layer and then blend it again. You can try to mix your own colors with your soft pastel sticks.

Additional Tips

  • For beginners, I’ve prepared a free beginner’s guide you can download. It’s filled with tips and tricks to get you started with pastel/ pencils. Get it here 👇

    • To keep your artwork clean, especially when creating pieces for others, consider using gloves to prevent transferring oils from your fingers to the portrait.


    So, that’s how you can create a vibrant and dynamic background for your squirrel portrait using various pastel techniques. Enjoy the process and see how your background enhances the overall look of your artwork!

    For more details and lessons on drawing with pastels, check out the Animal Art Club 👇

      My next upcoming launch of Animal Art Club is coming!
      I have a 4day drawing workshop. If you are interested in joining click the link below 👇