Author Archives: Gail Sibley

Nancie King Mertz, "Irving & 18th," soft pastels on UArt paper, 14 x 11 in. Plein air painted in Grammercy Park as a demo for a class I taught for PSA last fall.

Nancie King Mertz – Urban Architectural Painter Extraordinaire

Painting en plein air is a rewarding experience but usually has challenges. My own work is often done in a quiet(ish) spot as much as possible away from people and activity. This is not the case with this month’s guest blogger Nancie King Mertz!  Nancie seems willing and able to set up just about anywhere – she sees something she wants to paint, she sets up. Often this is in her home town of Chicago but it can be anywhere she travels.

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Demo with Sennelier pastels

Demo With Sennelier Pastels At Their IAPS Booth

I’m back from four amazing days at IAPS!! This pastel conference connects and reconnects you with wonderful people who are all passionate about pastels. It also inspires you through demos, workshops, and the exhibition of amazing work from around the world. It’s also a place to stock up on pastel supplies at the ‘candy store’ where you can converse directly with the vendors – offering feedback, finding out about new products, getting the best deals you’ll probably find. While there, I had the opportunity to demo with Sennelier pastels at the Savoir Faire booth. I thought I’d share the progression and results of this demo with you.

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May's Impressive Pastels collage of eight

May’s Impressive Pastels

It’s June!! The months fly by don’t they? So let’s have a look at my picks for May. As always, I collected a number of impressive pastels through the month, anything and everything that appealed to me. Then I whittled it down to ten (this is NOT easy!). Part of the selection process as I get closer to the allotted ten is to make sure I have something to say about the pieces. “Wow” just doesn’t cut it! And so, I came to these choices. Let’s have a look!

 

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Édouard Manet, "George Moore," 1879, pastel on canvas, 21 3/4 x 13 7/8 (55.2 x 35.2 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA - detail. Oh. My. Gosh. The eyes!! You could write a whole blog post about just this! you can see Manet looking, seeing, and making his strokes. Much of the canvas is left bare and that's the cool playing off the warm pastels of creams and yellows. The eyes are there but with so little to describe them. And look at that reddish line for the eye on the left - that says something with so little about Moore's state don't you think?

Édouard Manet’s Pastel Painting – “George Moore” – Audacious And Enduring

There’s a pastel painting I’ve always loved – it’s Édouard Manet’s “George Moore”.

I was reminded of it today when, searching my book shelf for something else, I came across a book, Édouard Manet Pastels by John Rewald published in 1947. This book is particularly special to me as it first belonged to my grandfather Newton Brett and was then passed on to my Mum, Joanne Sibley. The thing is, it also survived the devastation of sea and sand in Hurricane Ivan. My Mum’s note when she gave it to me for Christmas a number of years ago said, “Another ‘Ivan’ escapee – almost. I am sure Dad would love to know that you are now enjoying it.” Like I said, very special!

I’ve been wanting to do another ‘Close Look’ blog and as far as I was concerned, this was a sign to do it today! It was difficult to decide which of Édouard Manet’s pastels to choose – there are so many luscious ones of women! – but in the end, I chose this one of George Moore, executed in one sitting.

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sennelier's iridescent pastels - a sampling

Sennelier’s Iridescent Pastels – A Review

Have you ever used Sennelier’s iridescent pastels or indeed, any iridescent soft pastels? I hadn’t and I was curious about them. So I acquired a box of 24 Sennelier’s iridescent pastels.

I just created and published a video showing my unboxing of the set for the first time, recording my initial reactions (YUM!).

I also tried out all of the iridescent pastels on three different types of paper:

  • the mid-value La Carte Pastelcard provided with the set,
  • a piece of black Canson Mi-Teintes (the smooth side),
  • and a piece of UART 280 (the company’s coarsest grade of sanded paper).

I then did a demo with ten of the iridescent pastels, copying a demo piece I’d recently done in a workshop using regular Sennelier pastels.

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Carol Peebles, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! –Emma Lazarus, Inscribed on the Statue of Liberty," 2016, mixed hard and soft pastels on Colourfix paper, 14 x 19 in. I drew this while trying to recover from the Presidential election results, contemplating what was inscribed on the greatest symbol of America: the Statue of Liberty. This piece is meant as a symbol of hope and strength to work in solidarity for our values.

Carol Peebles – Awakening The Spirit With Pastel Portraits From Life

I’ve been enjoying portraits by Carol Peebles for some time now. You’ll find one of her pastels features in October’s monthly round-up. Her demos are extraordinary. I’d be pleased to create any of them in the quiet of my studio never mind under the intense gaze of students!

The other thing I love is that Carol uses fabulous and pertinent quotes for the titles of her pieces. They make you think about each piece at a deeper level.

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Choosing Your First Soft Pastels

Choosing Your First Soft Pastels

Probably the question I get asked the most is: “What pastels would you suggest I start with? And by the way, I have a limited budget.” Choosing your first soft pastels should be easy but with all the choices we have, the decisions become more difficult. This week I answer the question!

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Jacob Aguiar, "Evening Calm in Blues," pastel on paper, 12 x 18 in

Jacob Aguiar – On Painting The Glory Of Sunsets

What happens when you watch a sunset? Chances are you’re in awe and glad to be alive. It may make you laugh or move you to tears. And inevitably, as an artist, you’ll probably feel the urge to paint it. But dang, painting sunsets can be tricky. For one thing, the sun sets so quickly! It’s almost impossible to keep up. And so what do we do? We take photos and plan to paint from them later. And when we do, our paintings just don’t live up to our experience. Jacob Aguiar is a fantastic landscape painter in pastels but it was his sunsets that stunned me – each one evokes the emotions that often accompany the setting sun.

How does he do that??

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