Category Archives: Step-by-step progressions

Shows the progression of a pastel painting a series of still photos

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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10 minute painting: Gail Sibley, "Hair Care," Unison pastels on UART 320 paper, 5 x 6 in

A 10-Minute Painting? Yes You Can!

Every week in the HowToPastel Facebook group, we have a Friday Challenge. The challenge could be to paint a specific subject or create a painting in particular way. Last week, inspired by the interviews with Jen Evenhus and Tony Allain, the challenge was to create a 10-minute painting. Yup you heard me. A 10-minute painting. Since it was my challenge, I thought I better darn well take part!

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Detail of Summer Flowers in a Vase

Summer Flowers In A Vase…Or…The Case Of The Disappearing Coaster!

Visiting my Mum and Dad last weekend, I was struck by the light and colour of summer flowers in a vase on the living room table. The thing that really got my attention though was the way the red coaster was visible beside the vase but disappeared behind it even though the vase was transparent. It then ‘appeared’ in two other places ‘on’ the vase. Well I wasn’t about to figure out why and how that happened but I did become interested in capturing the effect. This painting was so much about painting what you see, not what you know! So let me take you through the process.

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Lack of colour choices: feature image

Lack Of Colour Choices Will Get Your Creativity Flowing

If all you have is a limited palette, a lack of colour choices can stop you from painting some subjects. I’m here to persuade you to take up the creativity challenge with the pastels you have available – you may be surprised!

Take today’s demo – a box of tissues as its subject. It’s a lot of off-whites on off-whites. But say my palette only has a few colours to choose from, what do I do? Well let’s check it out.

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Breaking the rules: I wanted to bring the parts of the floor together and make it all less colourful. So I scumbled a warm black pastel (Unison Grey 13) over much of the floor area. And it's done. Gail Sibley, "Night Slippers on Black," Unison pastels on UART 320 grade, 12 x 12 in.

How Breaking The Rules Can Overcome Blank Canvas Syndrome

I’m back in my studio after a wee getaway to Seattle and then Salt Spring Island. The DK Project is pretty much wrapped up so I can do what I like in my studio. But being able to do anything often means I do nothing! And so the blank canvas sits starring back at me. I’ve spoken previously about the usefulness of boundaries and restrictions in pushing creativity so I decided to set up a challenge. This time, it would be about breaking the rules.

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No Time to Paint? Gail Sibley, "The Plug," Unison pastels on UArt 400, 3 1/4 x 6 in. Finished after a few tweaks.

No Time To Paint? No Excuse! Painting A Plug In 20 Minutes

So you think you have no time to paint? One of the things I learned doing the 31 in 31 challenge last month is that there really is always a way to carve out time to create art.

I spend a lot of time on my computer these days, e.g. working on my blog, connecting with members of the HowToPastel Facebook group, or developing my online courses. I often feel desperate for and incapable of finding time to get in my studio, but having done the challenge, I realize that’s a crock! It’s easy to make excuses about having no time to paint. So what to do about it?

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Paint even when you don't feel like it: That's it! Gail Sibley, "Last Fling," Schminke pastels on UArt 400 paper, 6 x 6 in

Why You Should Paint Even When You Don’t Feel Like It… And Some Gerberas

Today I painted even though I didn’t feel like it. The reason? This blog. The looming deadline acted as a spark and ignited my painting soul. And I realized how important it is to paint even when you don’t feel like it.

Painting isn’t easy.

Being creative isn’t easy.

It’s damn hard work in fact. And because it’s hard work, sometimes we just don’t do it!

Those who don’t create usually don’t understand how difficult painting is. It’s all, “What fun it must be to spend time all day painting” and “How lucky you are to spend time painting.” True for sure, but you just know the way it’s being said that those speakers think it’s an easy, laadeedah thing you’re doing.

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