Richard Suckling, "Horadada," Unison and Sennelier pastels on Sennelier LaCarte 9 ½ x 12 ½ in. Painted from a lovely tapas bar in the village on the sea front with a nice bit of shade.

Richard Suckling – Studio Artist Takes On Plein Air Painting

Bright and bold were the words that came to mind when I first saw the work of UK artist Richard Suckling. His work dazzles with colour and light. I featured his work last March and since then have been awed every time he posts a new piece.

In October, I noticed he’d started to post pieces done en plein air in Spain. They startled me with their immediacy and had a quality of fearlessness. And so I invited Richard to contribute a blog about these pieces. Little did I know that they were indeed daring as painting on location was out of this studio painter’s comfort zone!

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Life drawing: Ten-minute pose

Life Drawing Or The First Time Is Always the Hardest

You know when you take a car trip somewhere for the first time – say to a new friend’s house – and then the return trip always seems to take so much less time? That’s because in the first journey, everything is unfamiliar. We don’t know where we’re going, how to recognize the landmarks or signposts, what to do when we get there, we’re unsure of what the parking arrangements are like, who will be there, and what may be expected of us. Once we take the first step and do it once, ever after it’s easier. This is the same for doing anything new including going to a life drawing session.

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Survey Results Are In! Curious About What Others Said?

Happy New Year!!! A big thank you for being a subscriber – it wouldn’t be nearly as rewarding without you! I was delighted that so many participated in the year end survey (360 responses!). The survey results will give me guidance going into 2017.

Generally it seems like I’m on the right track. I received all sorts of comments and suggestions, many of which I am still reading through. Many of the results are what I’d expected (based on earlier feedback from readers) but there were a few surprises too. So let’s have a look at the survey results.

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Alain Voinot, "At the Nature Park," pastel on black Canson Mi-teintes paper, 25 x 19 in. The same composition, this time on black paper. Can you see the difference the paper makes?

Alain Voinot – Illuminating The Landscape On Black Paper

I am delighted to have Alain Voinot from France as my guest blogger this month. I featured one of his pieces back in March and have always been astounded how he uses black (or dark) paper as his support for landscapes.

A particular skill is needed to work on black. Yes, it shows up bright colours wonderfully, but what about light, subtle, or landscape colours?  I’ve done a few experiments on black paper (you can see one here) but I found the experiences, so far, unsatisfying. Alain Voinot is a master at using black as his paper colour. The fact that he uses it for creating landscapes, often very green landscapes, is doubly impressive.

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November's Terrific Pastels: Jessica Masters, "Wave III," pastel, 24 x 36 in

November’s Terrific Pastels!

Writing this blog, I look up and notice there’s SNOW on the ground! Whaaaaaat? It’s December in Canada so I guess that makes sense, mostly makes sense, except that we West Coasters are more used to rain in the winter and above zero degrees (centigrade) temperatures! All this to say, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas and wintertime. And hurray, the solstice is around the corner so for us in the northern hemisphere, that means the return of the sun. Yay!! (Sorry to rub it in southerners…) Oh yes, and it’s time for November’s terrific pastels so let’s get cracking!

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To Blend Or Not To Blend Pastels, OR Why I Don’t!

Is it really December already? (Someone tell me no, it ain’t true!) Look out for my monthly picks next week. In the meantime, this week I made a video about why I don’t blend pastels.

I frequently get asked the question – Gail do you blend your pastels? OR Gail why don’t you blend pastels? In the video below, I set out to show, with sample swatches, why it is that I prefer to layer rather than blend pastels.

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No Time to Paint? Gail Sibley, "The Plug," Unison pastels on UArt 400, 3 1/4 x 6 in. Finished after a few tweaks.

No Time To Paint? No Excuse! Painting A Plug In 20 Minutes

So you think you have no time to paint? One of the things I learned doing the 31 in 31 challenge last month is that there really is always a way to carve out time to create art.

I spend a lot of time on my computer these days, e.g. working on my blog, connecting with members of the HowToPastel Facebook group, or developing my online courses. I often feel desperate for and incapable of finding time to get in my studio, but having done the challenge, I realize that’s a crock! It’s easy to make excuses about having no time to paint. So what to do about it?

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October's Superb Pastels: Maria Marino, "Birds on a Wire - Susquehanna River Bridge," pastel on La Carte, 12 x 16 in

October’s Superb Pastels

Ahhhhh yes…it’s time for another monthly roundup of ten superb pastels. I’m always hopeful that one of these months it’ll be a breeze to select the 10 from the many I collect over the month….and then to wrote about them. Hasn’t happened yet. So after much time struggling to choose this month’s choices, here they are, October’s superb pastels!

 

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Florence Rodway, "George Whiting," 1913, pastel on paper, 63.5 x 49 cm, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Florence Rodway – Little Known Today Yet Successful Portraitist In Her Time

Tasmania, that island off the south east of Australia that many of us have heard of but really know nothing about including the fact that it produced painter Florence Rodway (1881-1971).

I think Papeeta was the first piece I saw by Florence Rodway and I was stunned by how beautiful, textured, and contemporary it looked. It’s a perfect example of Rodway’s style of focusing on the face and letting all other elements merge together. The pastel was up for auction and sold through Sotheby’s, Sydney in 2005. Have a look:

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