Tag Archives: en plein air

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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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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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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Richard Suckling, "Horadada," Unison and Sennelier pastels on Sennelier LaCarte 9 ½ x 12 ½ in. Painted from a lovely tapas bar in the village on the sea front with a nice bit of shade.

Richard Suckling – Studio Artist Takes On Plein Air Painting

Bright and bold were the words that came to mind when I first saw the work of UK artist Richard Suckling. His work dazzles with colour and light. I featured his work last March and since then have been awed every time he posts a new piece.

In October, I noticed he’d started to post pieces done en plein air in Spain. They startled me with their immediacy and had a quality of fearlessness. And so I invited Richard to contribute a blog about these pieces. Little did I know that they were indeed daring as painting on location was out of this studio painter’s comfort zone!

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Pastelling Outdoors: 10. Gail Sibley, "Summer's Here," Sennelier pastels on Wallis paper, 9 x 12 in, available

Pastelling Outdoors (And Chillin’!) In Oak Bay

Yayyyyyyy, summer’s here in all its glory. That means it’s time to get pastelling outdoors!! For me, it takes some revving up to do when I’m out of the habit. While Cam was away, I made it a goal to start the ball rolling. I took myself out for breakfast (hmmmm…reward first?) then found a neighbouring park where I set up to paint the sunny view of sea and sailboats.

So let’s take a look at what happened when I went painting en plein air.

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11. A few more tweaks and for now, it's done! "Garden Corner, Schminke pastels on Wallis paper, 9 x 12 in

Garden Corner – An En Plein Air Progression

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?

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Simplify, Simplify, Simplify: Gail Sibley, "View From Martin's," Sennelier pastels on Wallis paper, 9 x 12 in

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify! Working En Plein Air in Mexico

We’re back from our two-week vacation in La Manzanilla, Mexico where we danced up a storm during the first week in a tango intensive workshop and then relaxed a bit in the second which is when I managed to get some pastelling time in. This pastel is a view from the verandah of Martin’s Restaurant. At first I was a bit overwhelmed by the scene until I spoke the mantra, simplify, simplify, simplify! It’s always good when you remember that you don’t have to put everything in – only include what you want to say something about. Let’s have a look at the view and the thumbnail sketch I did of it.

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pastel finished? : Gail Sibley, "OverCast Day At The Beach," pastel on Wallis paper, 9 x 12 in

Is This Plein Air Pastel Finished?

I think many of us artists have this problem – knowing when a painting is finished. Sometimes, without our realizing it, a painting is finished back a few steps. I know my tendency is to want to pick away, making the tiniest of tweaks. Often this can eradicate the spontaneity that was there especially when it comes to work done en plein air. We bring the piece back into the studio, study it, and then see the ‘flaws’ which we need to ‘correct’. Often these so called flaws are what bring the painting to vibrant life and ‘correcting’ them brings along a slow death. Unless we stop in time. And when is that time?

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En Plein Air: Another pondering. Even with all the lit grasses in lower part of the painting I felt the eye was still held by the house. So I softened the detailing of the siding and slightly greyed part of the yellow by glazing with light blue. Later I added the mauve to the upper portion of the wallto encourage the eye to move down. I also felt the third window kept your attention too much. I tried darkening it but in the end, decided to cover it with tree branches! After working at a few other bits and pieces, I signed it! Gail Sibley, "The Old Creamery," Schminke pastels on Wallis paper, 12 x 9 in

En Plein Air At The Old Creamery, Salt Spring Island

This summer on Salt Spring Island, I was fortunate to paint en plein air a few times with my Mum and Dad. I keep saying it but really, there’s nothing like painting on location for a rewarding experience, both in life and in technical and skills learning. So what did I learn this time?

Before I go on, let me tell you what attracted me to this scene. I have passed this place by car so many times and thought, I’d like to paint that! Why? Well first off, I’m a sucker for paths and roads that take us somewhere (obvious or hidden). I also love the light patterns made by trees over such paths. And I love yellow houses! This scene had all these elements in spades.

Let’s take a look at my progress. Continue reading

Plein Air Pastel Of Big Rideau Lake

I’m home from my wonderful trip to Ontario where Cam and I visited various family members. Kicking myself for not taking more photos! However, I did have time to do one pastel en plein air 🙂 It’s one that I did of a beautiful view of Big Rideau Lake from Cam’s Mum’s porch. The weather was changeable, rotating from heavy cloud and grey skies to blue sky with white clouds. Ahhhh the unpredictable delights of painting on location!

 

The Plein Air Progress

Here’s the view through the screen. (Yes, I was cheating a bit sitting inside a screened porch but I still consider it a plein air piece!)

The view I painted en plein air

The view I painted. Lots of blues and greens!

1. The Thumbnail prior to pastelling en plein air

1. The Thumbnail. I was especially attracted to the darkly encircled view of the brightly lit trees in the middle ground.

2. The charcoal drawing on Wallis paper in prep for the plein air painting

2. The charcoal drawing on Wallis paper

3. The first layers on - light, middle and dark values as seen en plein air

3. The first layers on – light, middle and dark values. You can see that I’m ‘reading’ the middle ground trees and the water as the same value.

 

4. Adding more pastel in the plein air piece

4. Adding more pastel. You can see the water and middle ground trees emerging as different shapes now.

5. The above in black and white. You can see that I need to darken the left side quite a bit to evoke the same feeling captured in the thumbnail!

5. The above in black and white. You can see that I need to darken the left side quite a bit to evoke the same feeling captured in the thumbnail!

6. Beginning to define the shapes of trees and negative space of the lake in this plein air pastel

6. Beginning to define the shapes of trees and negative space of the lake

7. Almost there. Greens added to the foreground trees. The gray clouds disappeared and were replaced by white ones and I could even see blue sky so those went in. And the various tree trunks of the middle ground trees finally added.

7. Almost there. Greens added to the foreground trees. The gray clouds disappeared and were replaced by white ones and I could even see blue sky so that went in too. The various tree trunks of the middle ground trees were finally added.

8. Let's have a look at the plein air pastel as it stands in black and white. A much closer feeling of looking at the light from the darkness. Just a few more tweaks..

8. Let’s have a look at the pastel as it stands in black and white. A much closer feeling of looking at the light from the darkness. Just a few more tweaks..

9. Gail Sibley, View From Sherwoods, pastel on Wallis paper, 9 x 12 in.   Small tweaks made and I called it quits. I may still need to look at it in the studio but for now, this plein air pastel is finished!

9. Gail Sibley, ‘View From Sherwoods,’ pastel on Wallis paper, 9 x 12 in. Small tweaks made and I called it quits. CAD$575 unframed




 

 

10. Here are the Sennelier pastels I used for this plein air pastel. The sticks to the left of the charcoal were tried but hardly used. I introduced another green into the small starter set I use. I just couldn't resist that dark olive green. I'll need to replace that blue that's in three small pieces - that's all I have left of that colour!

10. Here are the Sennelier pastels I used. The sticks to the left of the charcoal were tried but hardly used. I introduced another green into the small starter set I use. I just couldn’t resist that dark olive green. Hmmmm, I’ll need to remember to replace that blue that’s in three small pieces – that’s all I have left of that particular colour!

 

I was so happy to have done any work en plein air while away. It would have been nice to have done more but since the main reason for our trip was family visiting, I put all my focus and energy into doing just that! And I’m ever so glad as I had an amazing time first with my sister and her partner, then with Cam’s family (I have now met them all!), and finally with my cousin Alex and her partner. All very special times.

 

Look forward to hearing from you. Please leave a comment and tell me what you think of my newest plein air work.

~ Gail