There’s so much in a garden to paint – long views and closeups, flowers and garden accoutrements, seasonal changes or a single season, a garden corner or an entire garden – all make for great subject matter!
I’m in Ontario to teach at the ICAN Pastel Conference in Aurora during the week. Happily the plan is to spend both weekends with my sister and her family. Last weekend at her place, I found some quiet time to pastel en plein air. It’s been awhile since I’ve painted on location – Mexico in February was the last time – so this was such a pleasure. Hot weather standing in the shade painting. What could be nicer?
Check out the progression below!
1. My first thumbnail – seeing if I like the subject enough to paint it.
2. Once I decided the subject was a go, I made another small one that broke down the scene into light and dark. Very sketchy!! Really more of a two-value sketch than a three-value one. About 1 x 2 in
3. Vine charcoal sketch on Wallis paper (white). Not much there!
4. The first layer on – three values. There was so much green in the scene to be painted that I decided I needed to put some warm colours underneath it all – red, ochre/orange, yellow
5. The first layer wiped with paper towel to create an underpainting
6. Reasserting the values with the same three colours.
7. Beginning to add a second layer in the dark value areas
7a. The image above shown in black and white. Checking the value pattern against the thumbnail. Looks fine and dandy.
8. Building up layers. I saw a shovel off in another corner and decided to bring it into the scene. I felt it would add more balance and interest. Starting to introduce a dark green.
9. The painting is now the dark shadowy area I see and the garden tools are now revealed. It’s time to step back and ponder what’s next. (This photo and the next are darker than the image is. They were taken in the heavy shade of a tree.)
10. I decided that the light area behind the irises was competing with them and really, it was the irises that drew me to painting this scene. So in order to show them off, I chose to darken the background behind them.
10a. Looking at the image in black and white , I think it’s working quite well. At this point I stopped working on location.
11. A few more tweaks and for now, it’s done! “Garden Corner, Schminke pastels on Wallis paper, 9 x 12 in
And here are the 12 pastels I used, chosen from my box of 20 (a very limited palette to choose from!).
It’s funny, I was attracted to this scene because of the irises yet, semi-unconciously I think, I was also drawn to the design and character of the garden tools and they ended up taking a prominent position in this painting. It just shows how things can shift. It’s important to know what attracted you to a scene; it helps you see if your painting is successful. And yet there can be some flexibility in your idea. Ultimately this painting is about a garden corner and what being a gardener is all about.
At work painting the garden corner
Was this helpful? Do you like painting scenes from a garden corner? Do let me know. I LOVE to hear from you!!!
Until next time,
PS. Speaking of the pastel conference, I taught a wonderful first workshop which was all about using a limited palette (no kidding!). Participants seems to have fun AND learn something. That’s the biggest reward a teacher can have! I’ll post photos over on Facebook.
PPS. My nephew Andrew, cat Jack and dog Violet kept me company 🙂
It’s a hard life