Duane Wakeham, "David Sleeping," pastel on Canson Mi-Teintes, 12 x 16 in

Duane Wakeham – Drawing The Male Nude

Duane Wakeham. For me, the name conjures up luminous paintings of the California countryside. These take-your-breathe away paintings have perfect composition, values, colour combinations, and edge. Duane Wakeham is a master landscape painter so worthy of emulation (and if you want to get better at landscape painting, study his landscapes!).

So, if you’re familiar with the work of Duane Wakeham, you may have been surprised by this blog’s title.

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Past the ugly stage: Gail Sibley, "Waiting for a Refill," Schminke pastels on UArt 500, 5 3/4 x 5 3/4 in

Working Through The Ugly Stage – Yes You Can!

Have you ever had that experience when you look at what you’re working on and think, “Good grief this looks so awful [or something a bit stronger!] – I may as well quit now!”? I think we’ve all been there. This reaction usually happens at what I call the ugly stage.

So what do I actually mean by the ugly stage?

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September's Sensational Pastels: Ken Pledger, "Simone," pastel, 13 x 14 in

September’s Sensational Pastels (and being in Pratique Des Arts)

Ahhhhhh it’s that time of month to share my pick of 10 sensational pastels from the oh so many I saw last month. Because the Pastel Society of America’s annual show, Enduring Brilliance, took place this month, there were even more to choose from. (I didn’t go to the actual page but rather selected pieces as they were posted on various Facebook groups. It’s worth taking a look at all the pieces in the show though! Click here to do so.)

I started with 83 pastels and arrived at 10 after long, looooooong deliberation. So many incredibly beautiful pastels. But before we get to September’s sensational pastels, I’d like to share some pretty cool news.

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31 Paintings In 31 Days – Shall We?

Soooooooo….the decision has been made – I’m all in for the 31 paintings in 31 days challenge!! It begins 1st October and goes for the whole 31 days of October. And I am hoping YOU will join me!! Come on over to the HowToPastel Facebook group and say ‘YES!! I’m in!”

The idea of doing 31 paintings in 31 days is actually freaking me out a bit.

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Emily Christoff Flowers – Find Your Path By Painting What You Love

Sometimes it takes a crisis to allow your unique creative soul to emerge – the part of you that’s ALL you, not someone else’s expectation or belief of who you are. Someone who found their true creative path in this way is Emily Christoff Flowers.

I came across her work not too long ago and featured “Listening to Maynard Ferguson” in my March roundup. I was totally taken with the piece and wanted to see and know more! I’m so happy she accepted my invitation to share her story, process, and work with us.

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Paint even when you don't feel like it: That's it! Gail Sibley, "Last Fling," Schminke pastels on UArt 400 paper, 6 x 6 in

Why You Should Paint Even When You Don’t Feel Like It… And Some Gerberas

Today I painted even though I didn’t feel like it. The reason? This blog. The looming deadline acted as a spark and ignited my painting soul. And I realized how important it is to paint even when you don’t feel like it.

Painting isn’t easy.

Being creative isn’t easy.

It’s damn hard work in fact. And because it’s hard work, sometimes we just don’t do it!

Those who don’t create usually don’t understand how difficult painting is. It’s all, “What fun it must be to spend time all day painting” and “How lucky you are to spend time painting.” True for sure, but you just know the way it’s being said that those speakers think it’s an easy, laadeedah thing you’re doing.

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August's Astonishing Pastels: Natasha Isenhour, "Streetlight and Silence," pastel, 14 x 18 in

August’s Astonishing Pastels- Let Them Motivate You!

It’s Labour Day and on this grey, cool day in September, I’m writing about astonishing pastels chosen from the glorious many I saw in August. These are pastels that in some way moved me to share them with you be it their colour and design, their emotional resonance, their success with values. My ten pastel picks may not necessarily be award winners but there’s a certain something that calls to me. August’s astonishing pastels are personal and subjective choices for sure.

Let’s go have a look!

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Frank Reaugh, "The O Roundup, Texas, 1888," 1894, pastel on paper mounted on canvas, 18 5/8 x 43 7/8 in, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Frank Reaugh Estate Collection.

Frank Reaugh – Pastel Communion With The Southwest

I don’t know about you but I get intense pleasure when I discover a new-to-me artist from the past who used pastels. A few months ago it was Thérèse Schwartze (enjoy the blog written by Cora Hollema by clicking here). Today it’s the Texan artist Frank Reaugh (1860-1945; pronounced “Ray”). This artist became known for his landscapes of the West, many of which included grazing cattle. He often worked en plein air, using pastels that, get this, he formulated himself! I certainly wanted to know more!

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From Gail Sibley's post 'Get the most out of a workshop': My demo

14 Ways to Get the Most Out of a Workshop

Are you going to take a workshop anytime soon? I recently taught my workshop, Ramp Up Your Colour, to a small group of students on Salt Spring Island. Their focus and willingness to follow where I led was so rewarding. They really were the ideal students! Seeing their dedication to learning inspired me to write this post about ways to get the most out of a workshop.

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Nancy Nowak, "Out In the Sticks," pastel on UArt 400, 11 x 14 in. This scene is from the north Georgia mountains, along a side street, literally out in the sticks. I purposely used a limited palette of blues and its complementary color of light orange-ish color.

Nancy Nowak – Making the Mundane Magnificent

Last year, I featured “Right On The Corner,” a stunning piece by Nancy Nowak, in my monthly round-up (you’ll see it below), and not surprisingly, that pastel went on to be a winner, taking 1st place in this year’s Pastel Journal Top 100 Competition! Since then I’ve seen more of Nancy’s fabulous work as she’s posted them on the Pastel Society of America FaceBook group. What may look like a mundane scene to some, to Nancy’s eye, has the makings of a painting. I invited Nancy Nowak to write a guest blog about how she goes through the process of choosing a scene and then painting it. Lucky for us, she accepted, and I can’t wait for you to read her post!

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