Vianna Szabo, "Blue," pastel, 14 x 11 in

Vianna Szabo On Making Your Pastel Palette Work for You

I first met Vianna Szabo at the 2013 International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) Convention. I was doing short interviews and I asked her what got her into her studio everyday. (You can see her answer at the end of this post!) Since then I have been an admirer of her work and featured “Pause” in last May’s monthly round-up. I realized it was high time I asked Vianna if she’d consider guest blogging and when I did, Yay!! she said Yes.

First, a wee introduction.

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Joan Eardley landscape pastels

Joan Eardley And Her Pastel Landscapes

Okay, tell me straight, have you heard of Joan Eardley (1921-1963)? I was introduced to this artist’s work in 2012 and have been an ardent admirer ever since. Whether or not you know her work, I’m delighted to introduce Joan Eardley and her pastel landscapes.

Although born in England, Joan Eardley is considered a Scottish painter. Her Scottish mother and her sister (her father had taken his life earlier) moved to Scotland to avoid the bombing in London during the war and with only a few exceptions of time spent in London and on the continent, Eardley spent most of her life there. In 1954, she started living in Catterline, a village on the coast of Scotland. It was here she painted her landscapes and seascapes.

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April's Astounding Pastels: Crawfurd Adamson, "Lying Man," pastel, 29 x 21 in

April’s Astounding Pastels!

It’s time for another round-up of my ten picks from pastels collected through April.  A number of landscapes persisted through the selection process and remained in the top ten – I think they brilliantly show off the many possibilities in pastel! There are also two unusual still life paintings, one amazing portrait and one dynamite figurative piece. So let’s get on and enjoy these astounding pastels!


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The Importance of Play In Art: 7. I decided I like the painting in the second orientation so back it went upside down. I kept working on it. This is as far as I got. I quite like it as is but I need to give it some time. Then I'll come back and see what it needs. I'll let you know if and when I change it. (This photo is a bit darker than it actually is.)

The Importance Of Play In Art-Making

Today, I’m thinking about the importance of play in art.

I feel pulled in so many different ways on a daily basis. There’s so much to get done – finishing my new course, writing and organizing blog posts, updating my websites (hah!), nevermind painting. And oh yeah, what about fun time, downtime, a balanced life?!

I’m reading a fascinating book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less which is all about doing more of the right things. This morning, I skipped to the chapter on ‘Play’. Author Greg McKeown defines ‘play’ as, “anything we do simply for the joy of doing rather than a means to an end.”

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Pastels on black aper: Gail Sibley, "Untitled [at this point], Mount Vision pastels on Sansfix pastel card, 5 1/2 x 7 3/4 in

Using Pastels On Black Paper

Occasionally I get asked the question: Do you ever use soft pastels on black paper? And the answer is: Well no, I don’t. Mind you, when I first started in pastels over 20 years ago, I worked on a dark green mat board. So I have worked with pastels on dark paper, just not black paper. But once I discovered sanded paper, ie Wallis paper which came in the warm mid-value colour known as Belgian mist that I used at first, it was bye-bye dark paper!

When thinking about what I could do a new pastel demo for YouTube on, I recalled the question about pastels on black paper and here you have the result. I’m using pastels from Mount Vision’s workshop set of 50 pastels on Schminke’s Sansfix pastel card.

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30 Paintings in 30 Days: Takeyce Walter, all pastel, all 6 x 6 in. Days 18-21. From top left clockwise: “Sunset Clouds,” “Hudson Shadows,” Winter Sunset Over The Cornfield,” Winter Shadows”

30 Paintings In 30 Days With Takeyce Walter

30 paintings in 30 days – that’s quite the challenge. One artist who was successful in taking on the challenge recently is Takeyce Walter. I featured one of her lovely pieces in January’s monthly curation and it occurred to me that it would be fascinating to hear all about the process of creating 30 paintings in 30 days – the ups, the downs, the struggles, the triumphs. And Takeyce agreed!

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Pastel Workshops: Gail Sibley, "Gordes," pastel on Pastelcard, 9 x 12 in

Pastel Workshops Coming Up!

Many subscribers have been asking me, “When are your next pastel workshops?!” So I’m pleased to tell you about a number of them that are coming up.

First there’s the three I’ll be teaching at the Pastel Artists Canada Conference, then two pastel workshops on Salt Spring Island in August, and then there’s the potential one next year in France (but I’ll need your help to make that happen!). There’s also a teaser…..


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