the Landscape Interviews: Richard, McKinley, "Hillside Textures," pastel, 9 x 12 in

IAPS – The Landscape Interviews

In my last post, I shared the first half of the interviews I made at the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) in early June. Here is the second set – the landscape interviews I call them since they’re all related to painting the landscape. Let’s go!

I first discovered the work of Lyn Asselta when I presented one of her extraordinary-from-the-ordinary pastels in my November monthly roundup. She’s a master at taking something that we might not give a second thought to and making it into something that makes us look and look and wonder….like a gray day with an empty rutted road leading off into the distance accompanied by telephone poles possibly no longer in use. The paintings below are of places fairly close to Lyn’s home.

The Landscape Interviews: Lyn Asselta, "Forgotten," pastel, 13 x 21 in

Lyn Asselta, “Forgotten,” pastel, 13 x 21 in


the Landscape Interviews: Lyn Asselta, "Blue Morning, Crescent Beach," pastel, 20 x 20 in - this piece was in this year's IAPS show

Lyn Asselta, “Blue Morning, Crescent Beach,” pastel, 20 x 20 in – this piece was in this year’s IAPS show. What incredible light and colour!


I asked Lyn about how she sees beauty in mundane, everyday scenes:



Andrew McDermott is from Vancouver (nice to have a Canadian in among these interviews!). I’ve always admired his work, particularly his bold use of colour. He has a way of capturing that time of day when it’s night and lights are on but there’s still enough light in the sky to see colours. (You’ll also see his figurative work in the November pastel roundup.) Have a look:

the Landscape Interviews: Andrew McDermott, "Windy Day," pastel, 15 x 12 in

Andrew McDermott, “Windy Day,” pastel, 15 x 12 in


the Landscape Interviews: Andrew McDermott, "Night Reflections," pastel, 15 x 26 in

Andrew McDermott, “Night Reflections,” pastel, 15 x 26 in


Knowing Andrew’s penchant for colour, I asked him to give us a tip or two on how to use colour effectively:



Next we have two fabulous plein air artists.

To tell you the truth, I was unaware of Aaron Schuerr and his work until Andrew McDermott introduced me to Aaron. I looked him up online and was delighted to find fresh and light-filled plein air work. Take a look at a couple of the pieces he sent me:

the Landscape Interviews: Aaron Schuerr, "Turquoise Waters," 9 x 12 in

Aaron Schuerr, “Turquoise Waters,” 9 x 12 in (I’m pretty awed by an artist who can capture the sea on site!)


the Landscape Interviews: Aaron Schuerr, "Morning Aspens," pastel, 9 x 12 in

Aaron Schuerr, “Morning Aspens,” pastel, 9 x 12 in


Learning that Aaron was a plein painter, I asked him to tell us about why he paints on location:



Last but so very far from least, we have Richard McKinley. You’ll hear in the video below Richard’s comment about the benefit of returning to paint at the same place again and again through the years. With this in mind, he sent me three pastels created in the same location in Goleta, California over a period of ten years. You can see how the feeling and style shifts as well as the composition. The earliest comes first, the most recent, last.

the Landscape Interviews: Richard, McKinley, "Hillside Textures," pastel, 9 x 12 in

Richard, McKinley, “Hillside Textures,” pastel, 9 x 12 in


the Landscape Interviews: Richard McKinley, "Edge of the Bank," pastel, 12 x 16 in

Richard McKinley, “Edge of the Bank,” pastel, 12 x 16 in


the Landscape Interviews: Richard McKinley, "Cliffs of Golita," pastel, 12 x 18 in

Richard McKinley, “Cliffs of Golita,” pastel, 12 x 18 in (This very much reminds me of some of Whistler’s wonderful pastels.)


Richard writes, “When I painted the last one, I was profoundly struck by how much the scene had changed. Upon reflection, I realized I had as well. I included a couple of these painting images in my new book The Landscape Paintings of Richard McKinley in the final section titled “Old Friends”. Whenever I reconnect with one of these locations, I have the luxury of memory. It may have new wrinkles and grayer hair, just like me, but I still remember it in all of its manifestations. This provides a comfort and intimacy that allows me to be more creative.”


I asked Richard to tell us what he sees as the benefits of painting en plein air:


And that’s it for this year’s interviews (except for one which will appear in July as part of a guest blog). Wish I’d been able to do more – I certainly had many more artists lined up to interview – but that’s just the way things turned out. I have an idea in mind though, so stay tuned!


Speaking of painting on location, my online course Pastel Painting En Plein Air is well and truly almost ready for release….just working out some technical glitches and then I’ll let you know aaaaaall about it. Soon come!


Please let me know what you think of the landscape interviews. What’s the most striking thing that you learnt?


Until next time (when I’ll have the month end round-up of awesome pastels),

~ Gail


PS. If you’re interested in Richard McKinley’s new book, here it is. (It was sold out at IAPS before I could get my hands on a copy!)

And for Canadian purchasers – and check it out – it’s practically the same price as in the US! What a deal!!:

11 thoughts on “IAPS – The Landscape Interviews

    1. Gail Post author

      Lorenzo, so glad you enjoyed them. You were on my list of artists to interview at IAPS….what happened?? Ah well. I’ll be in touch soon about an idea 🙂

  1. Gailen Lovett

    Landscape painting is never dull and always a challenge especially en plein air. It was wonderful to see work by outstanding artists and hear their comments on painting. I especially enjoyed listening to Aaron Schuerr and Richard Mckinley. Informative to see Mckinley’s three paintings of the same scene – different decades – and to note the differences in mark making and the changes in the land. Thank you so much for taking the time to do these interviews, they were terrific.

    1. Gail Post author

      So glad they are useful Gailen! It was fun to be able to ask a similar question to Richard and Aaron and hear their different answers. And yes, I too really appreciated the changes in Richard’s work over the decade both, as you say, in mark making and as a record of the changes in the land itself. The third iteration makes me think of Whistler’s beautiful pastels – so much said with so little.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  2. Cathyann Burgess

    Thank you for taking the time to do these interviews, Gail. I appreciated seeing the different responses to your questions. It is hard to verbally explain the act of painting. I think of all, Aaron Schuerr nailed it down in comprehensible language delivered with humility. The interviews made me feel like I was there for a bit.
    p.s. glad to meet you online, I love your YouTube bites! Humorous and succinct!
    Best, Cathyann Burgess

    1. Gail Post author

      Thanks Mary! Glad you enjoyed them. There’s nothing like hearing from other artists – their thoughts and experiences and process.


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