Tag Archives: Great American pastels

A Lesson From A Plein Air Pastel Painted In La Manzanilla

Hola hola!!

Well I’m home from Mexico where I had a glorious time, first with my sweetheart Cam for a couple of weeks then with my lovely niece Aly for a week. Have to say it’s taken me some time to get back to this reality.

I did this plein air pastel while in La Manzanilla. I was going to post a blog about it while I was there but I just wasn’t happy with the pastel. So today I worked on it in the studio. I like it better but I’m still not sure about it.

Let’s have a boo.

Location of plein air pastel

Here’s the spot that caught my eye. What I saw was the shape of the almond tree trunks against the light background. I also liked the turquoise colour of the building

Thumbnails in preparation for plein air pastel

I made a couple of thumbnails (sorry you have to turn your head sideways for the lower one!) to decide on my composition. I chose the top sketch.

drawing for the plein air pastel

1. Drawing in vine charcoal on Wallis paper (drymounted on foamcore)

2. First colours applied for plein air pastel

2. First colours applied

3. More colour added to the plein air pastel

3. More pastel applied. Introducing warmth to the turquoise wall

4. Beginning to adjust values in plein air pastel

4. Beginning to adjust values

5. Having a look at the plein air pastel in black and white

5. A look at the pastel in black and white

6. Feeling the wall is too blank and for interest, add a plant. I also try out a figure in this plein air pastel

6. Feeling the wall is too blank and so or interest, added a plant. I also tried out a figure.

7. Realize the figure is to large and so reduce it, adding a child figure. Also added warm coloured flowers to the shrub

7. Realized the figure was too large and so reduced it and added a child figure. Also added warm coloured flowers to the shrub. This is the plein air pastel complete on site.

8. The final plein air pastel as seen in black and white

8. The final pastel as seen in black and white.

 

Back in Canada, I ponder the pastel. I think the bright purple spot in the centre captures too much of the viewer’s attention. I also feel the turquoise wall needs to be darker (darker than it is in reality – this is where artistic license comes into play!).

9. First thing I do back in the studio is to darken the wall. I also lighten the area of purple. As well, I add more colour to the figures in this plein air pastel.

9. First thing I do back in the studio is to darken the wall. I also lightened the area of purple. As well, I added more colour to the figures and brightened the flowers on the shrub.

10. I start working on the shadow cast by the building and add more light to the tops of the almond trees.

10. I started working on the shadow cast by the building and defined the leaves of the almond trees.

11. A look at the same plein air pastel in black and white

11. A look at the same pastel in black and white

12. I darken the area behind the roof on the left side and make more tweaks to the plein air pastel

12. I darkened the area behind the roof on the left side and made more tweaks. It’s complete for now. “La Manzanilla Almond Trees,” 12 x 9 in

Here are the Great American pastels I used for this plein air pastel

Here are the Great American pastels I used

And here are the pastels I had to choose from for my plein air pastel. These are the 18-colour General Purpose Assortment. It bugs me that there isn't a pure orange! But still, it's a pretty good set to get started with.

And here are the pastels I had to choose from. These are the Great American 18-colour General Purpose Assortment. It bugs me that there isn’t a pure orange! But still, it’s a pretty good set to get started with.

So what do you think? Did you notice anything about the plein air pastel as it relates to the thumbnail I chose??

One of the problems is that I didn’t follow my thumbnail!! Bad girl. You know how I go on about creating a thumbnail as a way to design your piece and then continue to use it as a guide as you go? Well, somehow, I did NOT accurately make the transfer from thumbnail to paper. I have no idea what happened. Distractions perhaps?? 🙂 Anyway, I think this is part of the reason I am not totally happy with the piece.

The thumbnail I thought I was following for the plein air pastel!

The thumbnail I thought I was following!

Look at how little of the wall is shown in the thumbnail compared to the pastel. In the thumbnail, I’m focusing on the design made by the tree trunks. (You can also see the hint of a possible figure.) In my pastel, I include quite a bit of the wall. I think that’s because I was so taken by the turquoise colour. You can see below that the wall is a prime part of the second thumbnail I tried. I think there is a residue of this thumbnail in the pastel painting!

The thumbnail sketch I didn't use for the plein air pastel

The thumbnail sketch I didn’t use

Anyway, wanted to share this lesson with you. Follow your thumbnail sketch!!

 

I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,

~ Gail

 

 

Painting dried roses – step-by-step

Pastel of Dried Roses

My plan for this post was to show a step-by-step progression of my pastel of dried roses in a vase. The roses were a gift from my honey for my birthday in August but it wasn’t until well into September that I painted them. They were beautiful when fresh and still beautiful once they had dried.

When it came time to put this blog post together I realized that, silly me, I had only videoed the process ie I’d taken no stills. I also hadn’t taken a photo of the set-up. Argh. Since I had my heart set on sharing this pastel and since I couldn’t think of an alternative, I decided to go through the videos and take a few screen shots. This I did. The only thing is, because the camera isn’t facing the pastel straight on, the photos are slightly skewed and not as clear as I’d like them to be. Nevertheless, I think you’ll get the picture.

First off, here’s the final piece (taken with my camera not the camcorder).

 

Gail Sibley, "Still Beautiful," pastel on Wallis paper, 17 1/2 x 9 1/4 in - a pastel of dried roses in a vase

Gail Sibley, “Still Beautiful,” pastel on Wallis paper, 17 1/2 x 9 1/4 in.

Starting at the beginning….

1. Thumbnail of dried roses done with biro, 3 x 1 1/2 in. Pretty sketchy but still showing areas of three values.

1. Thumbnail of dried roses done with biro, 3 x 1 1/2 in. Pretty sketchy but still showing areas of three values.

 

2. Charcoal sketch complete of the dried roses in the vase.

2. Charcoal sketch completed of the dried roses in the vase.

 

3. Beginning to apply pastel

3. Beginning to apply pastel. Massing in the main shapes.

 

4. First layer of pastel lightly applied and then rubbed with a paper towel to create an 'underpainting'. This way, I get rid of a lot of the white of the paper.

4. First layer of pastel lightly applied and then rubbed with a paper towel to create an ‘underpainting’. This way, I get rid of a lot of the white of the paper.

 

5. Beginning to re-state the original pastel colours - creating a more saturated base to work over. You can see this particularly in the flowers and leaves of the dried roses.

5. Beginning to re-state the original pastel colours – creating a more saturated base to work over. You can see this particularly in the flowers and leaves of the dried roses.

 

6. Starting to add more pastel and delineate the shapes, particularly the flower heads.

6. Starting to add more pastel and delineate the shapes, particularly the flower heads.

 

7. Beginning to describe the leaves and the spaces between.

7. Beginning to describe the leaves and the spaces between.

 

8. Background worked on, dried roses evident (flower heads, leaves, stems), vase made visible. Close to finishing.

8. Background worked on, dried roses evident (flower heads, leaves, stems), vase made visible. Close to finishing.

 

Gail Sibley, "Still Beautiful," pastel on Wallis paper, 17 1/2 x 9 1/4 in - a pastel of dried roses in a vase

Gail Sibley, “Still Beautiful,” pastel on Wallis paper, 17 1/2 x 9 1/4 in. Available unframed $825

 

Here are a few close-ups of the finished pastel:

Gail Sibley, "Still Beautiful," pastel on Wallis paper, 17 1/2 x 9 1/4 in - detail of dried roses

Gail Sibley, “Still Beautiful,” pastel on Wallis paper, 17 1/2 x 9 1/4 in – detail of the pink roses and leaves. Pretty much life size

 

Gail Sibley, "Still Beautiful," pastel on Wallis paper, 17 1/2 x 9 1/4 in - detail #2. Pretty much life size dried roses

Gail Sibley, “Still Beautiful,” pastel on Wallis paper, 17 1/2 x 9 1/4 in – detail of the red dried roses. Pretty much life size

 

And here are the Great American pastels I used:

Great American pastels right after finishing.

Great American pastels right after finishing.

Great American pastels I used but now all cleaned up. Anyone notice anything??

Great American pastels I used but now all cleaned up. Anyone notice anything?? – Have a look at the previous image

Hope that was helpful. I’d love to hear any feedback!

 

Demo at Opus!!

I also wanted to tell you about a demo I am doing in December. It’s going to be at Opus Art Supplies here in Victoria on Sunday 7th December, 11am-1pm. It’s called “Colourful Still Life in Pastel” and I’ll be demoing a small pastel with a limited palette using Schminke’s box set of 20 pastels. Click here to learn more.

I’m prrrreeeetttty excited to be doing this. It’s my first time demoing with Opus. It’s free but you’ll need to register in advance by calling them at 250 386 8133 or going into the store.

 

And thaaaaaaat’s it for this time. Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend.

Until next week,

~ Gail

 

PS. If you looked closely at both photos showing the pastels I used, you will have noticed I forgot to include the darkest pastel in my cleaned up photo. Mea culpe.

PPS. Here’s a photo of the roses in my bedroom when they were fresh!

Fresh roses rather than dried roses!

Fresh roses!

PPPS. The Berlin Wall came down 25 years ago – 9 November 1989!! Do you remember when that happened? I do. I also remember when I was in Berlin at Checkpoint Charlie 32 years ago, looking over at the grim buildings in East Germany and imagining the people walking on the other side of the wall. Wow – what a change when the wall came down. I can hardly believe it’s been 25 years ….

The Berlin Wall comesdown http://youtu.be/zmRPP2WXX0U

Click to watch

Then go check out this amazing art installation!!

 

Painting on location at Vesuvius on Salt Spring Island

 

I have been back and forth to Salt Spring Island over the past few weeks, visiting my Mum and Dad and painting on location. It’s been so wonderful getting back to plein air painting. The weather has been superb – warm enough not to need a sweater but not so hot as to be uncomfortable. Just perfect!

I thought it’s about time I started sharing what I’ve been up to. So here’s the progression of a pastel I did in Vesuvius on Salt Spring Island. (This was the one time I went out alone so you’ll have to wait for another blog post to catch sight of my parents at work!)

Let’s take a boo.

 

1. Unison starter kit of pastels all ready to go! (Thumbnail sketches in the background.)

1. Great American starter kit of pastels all ready for painting on location! (Thumbnail sketches in the background.)

 

2. The scene I painted. What attracted my to paint it were those daisies contrasted against the dark background. Of course the picket fence and the delightful yellow house weren't too bad either!

2. The scene I painted. What attracted me to paint it were those daisies contrasted against the dark background. Of course the picket fence and the delightful yellow house weren’t too bad either!

 

3. I forgot to take a photo of the charcoal drawing on the white Wallis paper. Here I have applied pastel quickly in the three main areas of value.

3. I made a simple charcoal drawing on the white Wallis paper and then applied pastel in the three main areas of value.

 

4. The initial layer was rubbed gently with a paper towel to become a sort of underpainting. I have begun adding another layer of pastel.

4. The initial layer was rubbed gently with a paper towel to become a sort of underpainting. I have begun adding another layer of pastel.

 

5. I added more darks and began to delineate the fence by painting the negative space.

5. I added more darks and began to delineate the fence by painting the negative space.

 

6. Getting more into the details of the scene, particularly the leaves of the rhodo bush

6. Getting more into the details of the scene, particularly the leaves of the rhododendron.

 

7. Finally I get to the daisies! This is as far as the pastel got on location. Is it finished? I'm not sure yet. The thing is, when you are back in the studio, the temptation is to 'tidy' things up and before you know it, you've lost the vitality that comes with painting on location. When the weather becomes overcast, I'll pull it out again and have a look. In the meantime, it's as finished as it can be :-)

7. Finally I get to the daisies! This is as far as the pastel got on location. Is it finished? I’m not sure yet. The thing is, when you are back in the studio, the temptation is to ‘tidy’ things up and before you know it, you’ve lost the vitality that comes with painting on location. When the weather becomes overcast, I’ll pull it out again and have a look. In the meantime, it’s as finished as it can be 🙂
Gail Sibley, “Dowry House, Vesuvius,” pastel on Wallis paper, 12 x 9 in.

 

8. And here are the 15 Great American pastels I used

8. And here are the 15 Great American pastels I used.

 

There is really nothing like painting on location!!

 

Here’s a quote about painting on location that I think is so true.

Feel free to Pin it if you agree!

 

Charles Muench quote about painting on location

You can see some of Charles Muench’s work by clicking here.

 

Painting on Location – upcoming video and contest!

On another topic, as you may have noticed in my Summer Newsletter, I’m working on a video about painting on location that will be for sale. I would love your input as to what information you would like to see included. What are your questions, your hesitations, about pastelling en plein air? Please let me know in the next few days as I am hoping to finish the voiceover and editing next week. Anyone who offers some input will be included in a draw for a free copy when I release it!! So come on, ask away!

 

Thanks for being here. You know I’d love to hear your comments about this post!

 

Until next time,

~ Gail