Author Archives: Gail Sibley

Tony Allain, "Low Tide Porthleven," pastel, 10 x 34 in

Tony Allain – How To Pastel (Loosely)

If you’ve ever seen Tony Allain in action or seen his work, you’ll know why I’m excited to have him as a guest blogger.

I first featured Tony’s work in my first-ever monthly round-up blog in September 2014 (when I wasn’t writing very much about each pastel!) and then more recently in April this year. I’ve admired the confidence and colour in his work, and also the way he utilizes his sketches to create his pastels. So you can imagine how happy I was to bring his words and art to you.

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small box of pastels: Here's everything I took with me in my carry-on suitcase.

A Small Box Of Pastels – Perfect For Travelling With Carry-on Only!

Last month I participated in HowToPastel’s 31-paintings-in-31-days Challenge. Somehow I only missed one day despite the fact that I was travelling two of the four weeks. And what’s more, I only travelled with carry-on luggage! So how could I fit everything plus art supplies? The answer was a small box of pastels and small pieces of paper (and a pared down collection of clothes!).

Through the whole Challenge, I decided to use only Unison Colour pastels as a way to acknowledge the honour of being invited to become a Unison Colour Associate Artist. (They are updating their website but soon I’ll be able to direct you to my page there!)

While in the studio, all work was done with pastels from their classic starter set of 36. But on the road, when every gram and square centimetre count, this was too bulky and heavy!

I looked at taking a small Sennelier set but decided to stick with the Unison Colour theme. I had a small box of pastels – I’m talking small!! It has 16 half-sticks and is extremely light. Here’s a picture of the pastels in the box:

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October's outstanding pastels

October’s Outstanding Pastels To Inspire You!

It’s November. That means it’s time for October’s outstanding pastels! Every month I gather pastel paintings that catch my eye then at the beginning of the month I choose ten outstanding pastels to share with you. These choices are very subjective and I attempt here to explain many of the aspects of a work that caught my attention.

So let’s go have a look!

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Doing the work: 2. Using black for the darkest darks. Basically I worked on getting the Kandinsky painting in first. This is not how I usually works (three main values blocked in working slowly to details) but felt it best in this instance.

Doing The Work – The Best Thing About The 31-in-31 Challenge!

If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of plans to get into the studio to paint. But somehow, doing the work doesn’t come easy!

It’s a priority right? Well you wouldn’t think so most days. I blog weekly, I’m active in my HTP Facebook group (where we are all posting out 31-in-31 images), I post on social media, I continue to work on my next online course (almost finished the final edit – stay tuned!), and oh yes, there’s living my life! So where’s the time for actually painting?? I know you also have many things that keep you from doing the work too right?

Then along comes the 31-pastels-in-31-days challenge.

I remember last year, I was desperate to paint. Thus the Challenge came about through a desperation to get in the studio and put pastel to paper. And it worked! So there was no hesitation about running it again this year. And going by what’s happening with everyone who’s participating, it’s going to become an annual event!

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Lyn Diefenbach, "Counterpoint," Sept 2017, Pastel on Ampersand Pastelbord, 24 x 24 in. Available.

Lyn Diefenbach – Revealing The Complexity Of The Natural World

I met Lyn Diefenbach at this year’s IAPS convention. I had featured her self-portrait in one of my monthly roundups and admired the detailed complexity of her work for some time so I looked forward to meeting her. And you know what? She’s as delightful in person as you could hope! She’s also a great storyteller and she had me laughing much of the time!

After creating a short interview video with her (see the end of this post), I knew she would have much to say to you so asked her to be a guest blogger. And yay – she said yes!!

Here’s a teaser in case you don’t know her work.

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work in a series: collaged image

Work In A Series – Some Lessons Learnt During The 31-Pastels-in-31-Days Challenge

October is Challenge month at HowToPastel. In the 31 days available this month, participants attempt to pastel every single day (posting in the HowToPastel Facebook group). One of the things I decided to do during the challenge was to work in a series. There are some subjects I’ve yearned to paint and the Challenge is an opportunity to dig into a couple of these themes. One of these is laundry on a clothesline.

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September's Splendid Pastels: collage

September’s Splendid Pastels

I’m back from teaching my workshop in Croatia and so can now settle back into taking the time to collect, review, select, and write something about pastel paintings seen over the previous month. And so here is September’s collection of ten splendid pastels!

Each painting we look at is not only about the artist’s intentions but also what we as a viewer bring to it – our memories, experiences, biases. I say this as a reminder that the paintings I choose and what I say about them is personal and subjective (unlike judging a show!).

So let’s get going on this month’s splendid pastels!

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Painting Holiday workshop: Student work on the theme of dominance

10 Reasons To Go On A Painting Holiday Workshop

A year and a half ago, Mario Vukelic invited me to lead a painting holiday workshop with Pastel Workshops Croatia. And early this September, it happened! I had an amazing group of six students who were dedicated in their pursuit of pastel painting knowledge. There were times of concentrated silence and times of uncontrolled laughter – all of which filled my heart. And as an instructor, there’s nothing like hearing  ‘Aha!’ exclamations!

Happily, although the weather was sometimes iffy, we had a spacious studio in which to work. The weather prevented us from going on the Istrian tour (boo hoo) but on the bright side, it gave the students more learning time from me in the studio and I was happy to share more!

The Hotel Villa Gloria is small and beautiful, rooms are comfy and clean, staff are incredibly friendly and accommodating, food is plentiful and delicious, and there’s a gorgeous pool for swimming or just contemplating life with book and cocktail in hand at the end of a hard painting day. Perfect!

 

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Sandra Burshell, "Rest," 2016, Pastel on UArt 500 grade sanded pastel paper toned orange and mounted to acid-free foam core, 25x23 in

Sandra Burshell – The Beauty Of Colour, Light, And Atmosphere In Her Roomscapes

It’s my great pleasure to have Sandra Burshell as guest blogger. I’ve featured Burshell’s work twice in my monthly round-ups – the first time was a figure (click here to see it), and this past June, I included her interior, “What Could Have Been.”

I’ve always been intrigued by the way Sandra Burshell applies pastel, with her marks coalescing into a readable form, one filled with light and colour and atmosphere. You’re in for a treat as she shares many images, and also takes us through the progression of “Rest,” a painting that just received the President’s Award at the current Pastel Society of America’s annual exhibition.

 

In case you don’t know her work, here’s a taste:

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Detail of final pastel painting

Improve Your Paintings With The Power Of Negative Space

I’m writing this sitting in Frankfurt airport as I travel home from my 7-day Croatia workshop. Teaching this workshop got me thinking a lot about negative space – both its power as a visual device and as a tool to aid in the creation of a painting. My demo and lesson on the last day touched on the use of negative space.

Here’s my demo:

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