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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Have you ever had that experience when you look at what you’re working on and think, “Good grief this looks so awful [or something a bit stronger!] – I may as well quit now!”? I think we’ve all been there. This reaction usually happens at what I call the ugly stage.
So what do I actually mean by the ugly stage?
Whoo hoo!!! I have taken all my new pastels in to be framed for my solo show which opens 16th May 2014 at Gallery 8 on Salt Spring Island. Let me share a piece, an abstract pastel, that will be in the show.
I have been working on a series of pastels called ‘Vertical Landscapes’. As the title suggests, they are all vertical rather than the more expected and traditional horizontal format of a landscape painting. They range from fairly realistic through to more abstract (click here to see the fairly abstract pastel Landscape Tapestry and here to read about The Ginkgo Tree). The one I will show you here started off with nothing in mind, just colour! And interestingly, the colour choices for this piece came from the few Terry Ludwig pastels that I own.
I love the colours and feel of Terry’s pastels but knowing they would be difficult to obtain in my home town of Victoria, BC (not to mention that I have a whole heap of other pastels anyway!), I have held firm and not bought any at the bi-annual IAPS convention, well, mostly held firm. All of these pastels were gifts, and mostly from Terry himself, generous soul that he is. And so I am happy to have created this painting using only his pastels!!
Here’s a look at the sequence of my abstract pastel:
So where to go from here? The Landscape Tapestry abstract pastel has a high horizon so what about a low one? I rotated it and had a look.
For me this abstract pastel gives me the feeling of driving through the forest in the rain. What do you see? What do you feel? What’s your story about what’s going on? I’d love to hear!
Please share this blog if you think someone else would enjoy it.
Thanks for spending your time with me 🙂
PS. Off to Salt Spring Island tonight to see Gallery 8’s Symbolically 8 show. Of course I am curious about how my painting will be received. It’s not a pastel but if you are curious, you can read about it here.
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!
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.)
Once home in Canada, I am wondering if a cropped version of the plein air piece will work better. What do you think?
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,
PS. Here’s the scene I painted