Tag Archives: La Manzanilla

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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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

 

 

“His Shaving Things” – A Small Pastel In A Limited Palette

As you may know, I’m spending a couple of weeks in La Manzanilla, Mexico. I’m finally settled in and the sun has once again graced us with its presence (the whole weekend was cloudy but that was still okay as it was WARM!). Realizing I had a blog post due, I finally set up a still life yesterday to get me warmed up before I head out to plein air later this week.

What to paint? It was my honey’s Cam’s body brush and shaving things that caught my eye this time and I thought, what the heck. So I set up the items on a table outside.

First the thumbnail:

Thumbnail sketch in pen and ink for "His Shaving Things," 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 in

Thumbnail sketch in pen and ink for “His Shaving Things,” 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 in

 

Outside of course means changing light! The shadow created by the can of shaving cream and the brush soon disappeared leaving only the shadow under the razor. Luckily I had my thumbnail sketch to consult!

Here’s the pastel progression:

Vine charcoal initial drawing on Wallis paper (toned with watercolour) for "His Shaving Things"

Initial drawing in vine charcoal on Wallis paper (toned with watercolour) for the pastel, “His Shaving Things.”

 

Getting the first pastel on for "His Shaving Things"

Getting the first colours on. Using a limited palette (chosen from Unison’s starter box) really did limit my choices. The brush hairs were an ochre colour and the table a turquoise colour. But I didn’t have these pastels available. I had to create my own versions of these colours. I could see a lot of reflected green on the brush so I started with that as a middle value.

 

Adding more colours and getting in the lightest values in "His Shaving Things"

Adding more colours and getting in the lightest values. Feeling my way around both the values and the colours.

 

Adding more pastel to "His Shaving Things"

Adding more pastel including a layer of yellow on the top of the brush. I wish there was an ochre colour in the box but there isn’t so I’m attempting to build layers to give the effect of ochre. This layering is what, for me, can give a piece a vibrating excitement.

 

Further defining of the brush tufts. Also starting to indicate the writing on the shaving cream can on "His Shaving Things"

Further defining of the brush tufts. Also starting to indicate the writing on the shaving cream can.

 

More work on the lettering on the can. I don’t want to make it too obvious but enough so a viewer will probably guess the brand if they are familiar with it. Some further definition of the razor and also the shadow of the brush. "His Shaving Things"

More work on the lettering on the can. I don’t want to make it too obvious but enough so a viewer will probably guess the brand if they are familiar with it. Some further definition of the razor and also the shadow of the brush.

 

Gail Sibley, "His Shaving Things," Unison pastel on Wallis paper (toned with watercolour), 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 in

Gail Sibley, “His Shaving Things,” Unison pastel on Wallis paper (toned with watercolour), 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. Perhaps you can see how I made the shadow line of the shaving can more diagonal. I also worked a bit on the shape of the shadow from the brush, including a hint of it on the left side of the can’s shadow.

 

The 10 pastels used for "His Shaving Things" and really, only the eight circled used

The 10 pastels used. The eight circled are the ones I really used. The other two I used just at the start so they are part of the whole but very little used.

 

Here is the Unison starter box from which I chose my colours for "His Shaving Things." You can see that there is no ochre and no turquoise colours. A good challenge to make your own!

Here is the Unison starter box from which I chose my colours for “His Shaving Things.” You can see that there is no ochre and no turquoise colours. A good challenge to make your own!

 

The photo of the set up. You can barely see the shadow cast by the brush and the shaving cream can. "His Shaving Things"

The photo of the set up. You can barely see the shadow cast by the brush and the shaving cream can.

 

And there you have it. What do you think?  Have you ever painted shaving things? I’d love to hear from you.

Next time, being the end of the month, you’ll be able to wonder at this month’s selection of pastel gems. Then, in a couple of weeks, I’ll have a plein air progression for you of some scene here in La Manzanilla.

 

Until then,

~ Gail

 

PS. Ahhhhh sunsets in La Manzanilla!

Puesta del sol en La Manzanilla

Puesta del sol en La Manzanilla

 

Plein air pastelling in Mexico with a mucho limited palette

 

In February, I had the pleasure of being in La Manzanilla, Mexico for a week of tango workshops (yay!) followed by a week of relaxing and painting (more yay!). The paintings were done mostly en plein air and over the next few weeks, I’ll share two or three of those pieces.

The one I’m going to show you this time was an experiment. As many of you know, I generally paint with a limited palette. I decided to try using my very small set of Schminke pastels – only 11 colours to choose from so, in this case, the choice of pastels was severely limited. Eek!

 

The set of 11 Schminke pastels

The set of 11 Schminke pastels

 

I can’t decide whether the pastel is finished and if it isn’t, should I just keep working on it with the Schminke limited selection or should I bring in some other colours. At the end of this post, I’d like you to help me out with your thoughts.

 

So let’s take a look. (These photos were taken on site with my iPhone so, sorry, they aren’t the greatest.)

1. The beginnings of my plein air piece - the charcoal indication on Wallis paper of the beach scene

1. The beginnings of my plein air pastel – the charcoal indication on 9 x 12 in Wallis paper of the beach scene

 

2. Getting some colour down. Remember, I have so few colours to choose from.

2. Getting some colour down. Remember, I have very few colours to choose from!

 

3. Okay, now I have the paper covered, now what??? At this point, I am seriously wondering whether I can do this! Shall I just give up the plein air experiment?

3. Okay, I have the paper covered, now what??? At this point, I am seriously wondering whether I can do this. Shall I continue or just throw in the towel on this plein air experiment right now? As you can see, I decided to continue.

 

4. Started layering. You can see me bringing white into the sky. What else can a girl do to lighten it up??

4. I’ve started layering. You can see me bringing white into the sky. What else can a girl do to lighten it up??

 

5. So I got white all over the sky then it was too light, tooooo white, so layering over blue. I did this a couple of times with a bit of gnashing of teeth. Argh.

5. I covered the blue in the sky with white then it was too light, tooooo white, so layered over some more blue pastel. I did this a couple of times with a bit of gnashing of teeth. Argh.

 

6. Getting close to the end. The sky a bit of a disappointment but with my limited choice i.e. white and yellow are the only light options, that's what I have.

6. Getting close to the end. The sky is a bit of a disappointment but with my limited choice (i.e. white and yellow are the only light options), that’s what I have.

 

7. Before leaving my painting spot, I decided that because there is such an expanse of sky that I could lesson it by stretching a couple of palm fronds into the picture. I also reinserted a hill in the background. By now I'm hungry and I go in search of some victuals :-)

7. Before leaving my plein air painting spot, I decide that because there is such an expanse of sky that I could lessen it by stretching a couple of palm fronds across the sky. I also reinsert a hill in the background. By now I’m hungry and ready to go off in search of some victuals.

 

Once home in Canada, I am wondering if a cropped version of the plein air piece will work better. What do you think?

 

8. The cropped version.

8. The cropped version.

 

So that’s it. It was a delightful day to be out painting. I sat under a coconut tree and listened to the waves and the chatter of birds and people as they passed by. Nothing beats being outside, en plein air, working on a piece of art. When you look at your work weeks later, you re-live the scene and everything that you experienced. Wonderful.

 

Okay, time to get your feedback. Is it finished and if not, what suggestions? I also need a title….

 

I do look forward hearing from you!!

Until next time,

~ Gail

PS. Here’s the scene I painted

Photo of beach at La Manzanilla at midday

Beach at La Manzanilla at midday