Category Archives: Tutorials

Longer than quick tips, tutorials will help you understand the process of painting in pastels whether in a pastel demo on video, step by step progressions, or a detailed look at a pastel painting

Painting the Unfamiliar: Gail Sibley, "Cavelier," Mount Vision pastels on Pastel Premier (white) paper, 9 x 9 in

Painting the Unfamiliar – Scary and Confirming

Painting the unfamiliar – what do I mean by that? Let me give you a bit of backstory first.

I’ve been working really hard on preparing my newest online course. It was supposed to be ready for this week but tech glitches and miscommunications with my tech person meant a delay. Sooooo disappointing! I felt deflated and numbed. I started wasting time on Facebook (you know that right?) and after about 30 plus minutes realized what I was doing. And even though I caught myself, I continued to scroll. I was so frustrated with the delay that I was drowning myself in the wasteland of Facebook! But after about 15 minutes, I knew I had to get off Facebook and DO something!

I took the opportunity to slip into my studio where I hadn’t been in days. Work on the computer had taken me away from place of creation and intention. Ironic since I’m always encouraging you to get thee to thy studio! I started preparing paintings for shipping to a client. I even got my hands dirty with pastels when I realized one of the pieces hadn’t been signed! And that felt soooooo incredibly good, far out of proportion with the actual time spent with a pastel in hand.

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Change Things Up: Gail Sibley, "The Pink Wall," Unison pastels on UART 400 paper, 9 x 12 in. Available.

Change Things Up When Painting En Plein Air

I don’t know about where you are, but here in Victoria, it’s still toooo damn cold to go painting en plein air! That’s why it was so lovely to work on location while I was in Mexico (I’ve been back just over a week). I painted en plein air a number of times, partly for the pure joy of it but also in preparation for my workshop in Spain in a couple of months. (You can read more about the workshop here -there’s still space so why not join us??) One of the things about working en plein air that I love is that you can change things up.

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Chaos of Light And Shadow: 9. Tweaked and finished. Gail Sibley, “Gone to the Beach!,” Unison pastels on UART 400, 9 x 12 in

Chaos of Light And Shadow – Painting En Plein Air In Mexico

In this post, I want to share with you a piece I did where I tried to sort out the chaos of light and shadow.

I’ve been in Mexico for two weeks. One of my projects was to paint en plein air as preparation for my painting holiday workshop in Spain at the beginning of May. (Easier to paint outside here than in the rain and cold of home in Victoria BC at the moment!) To that end, for the first time when coming to La Manzanilla, I brought my easel. Usually I have a small box of pastels and board and paper so as you can imagine, way more than I usually bring! Still it’s been a treat to stand at an easel rather than have a rock, a log, a chair if I’m lucky, or flat on the ground if I’m not, dictate the scene I’m going to paint. Now it was only the need for shade that I looked for. The light is bright here, the colours vibrant, the shadows defined and dark.

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Grief and art: Gail Sibley, "Farewell (for Ray)," Great American and Mount Vision pastels on Canson Mi-Teintes Touch (white), 14 x 20 3/4 in

Grief And Art – Using Art-Making To Deal With My Sadness And Anger

WARNING: This is a very personal blog post. In it, grief and art come together.

Yesterday I was shocked and stunned: I found out that Ray Dorge, my former life partner of 25 years, had died. Even though Ray and I separated 10 years ago (by my instigation), we kept in touch with the odd email. As much as I wanted a closer connection, Ray said he wanted to keep me at arm’s length. He said it hurt too much to spend time with me. I respected his wishes even though it saddened me that we rarely got together to catch up on our lives nevermind recall shared memories. I kept meaning to push him on it but I never did.

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Do something, anything!

Do Something, Anything! Getting Started…On My Self Portrait

One of my 2018 New Year Resolutions is to PAINT MORE. I want to get in the studio and do something! I spend a lot of time on my computer – responding to email queries and enquiries, and writing blogs but also, for the last six months or so, sitting for hours editing and preparing videos for my next online course. And sometimes, it seems that I’m just not painting. Argh. So today is blog writing day and I wanted to share something about my pastel work. So, it was a good reason to get into the studio and do something.

So there I was this morning, in the studio, and stuck. I was overwhelmed by the many choices of subject matter. Sooooo many possibilities!

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Painting a white object with colour

Painting A White Object With Colour

Sometimes, if you’re working with a small set of pastels, you won’t have a large assortment of almost whites i.e. very light colours – light blues, greens, pinks, yellows, mauves, or oranges. So if you’re painting a white object, what should you do when you have such a limited palette? One good thing is you probably have a white stick of pastel in your set. But how can you make one white pastel stand-in for all the white areas? In this video, you’ll see just that. I want to show you the possibilities of painting a white object with colour!

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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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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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Paint Like No One’s Watching (Or Cares About What You Are Doing)

You know that saying, dance like no one’s watching? Well I think you could also say, paint like no one’s watching!

I’m in Croatia to teach a 7-day workshop (very excited about that!). And it’s time to write a blog for you. I was going to pastel some landscape or townscape. A good plan until I suddenly realized that within an hour I was to hand over my pastels to Mario, the workshop organizer. (He’d bring them with him when he drove to Istria for the workshop. Cam and I were trying to relieve ourselves of a lot of luggage so as to travel light over next few days before the workshop.) But this meant I had to paint something in an hour!

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Tweaking my plein air painting in the studio: Gail Sibley, "Shepherd Hills Hideaway," Great American pastels on Wallis Belgian Mist mounted paper, 9 x 12 in. Available.

Tweaking My Plein Air Painting In The Studio – How I Did It

A couple days ago I was on Salt Spring Island visiting my parents and one of the things I really wanted to do while there was to work en plein air. It’s been awhile since I’ve painted on location and as I’m preparing for my workshop in Croatia, this was on the to-do list. It was a perfect day for painting and although I went through the angst of I-can’t-remember-how-to-paint during the process, I was quite happy with the result. Of course the outcome wasn’t as important as the doing of it but still, it’s nice to have some success. This post reveals my thoughts on tweaking my plein air painting back in the studio as well as the progress of the painting on location.

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