Tag Archives: painting process

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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?

Continue reading

Past the ugly stage: Gail Sibley, "Waiting for a Refill," Schminke pastels on UArt 500, 5 3/4 x 5 3/4 in

Working Through The Ugly Stage – Yes You Can!

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?

Continue reading

A completely abstract pastel and how I got there!

 

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!!

 

1. The Terry Ludwig pastels I used

1. The Terry Ludwig pastels I used (and all that I have).  Isn’t that heart adorable?? I cheated a bit because I didn’t have a warm colour except the dark claret pastel so I snuck in a pink Great American…. Terry has some amazing pink/fushia/magenta colours. Unfortunately, I don’t own any 🙁

 

Here’s a look at the sequence of my abstract pastel:

2. First step - get some pastel down on the mounted Wallis paper!

2. First step – get some pastel down on the mounted Wallis paper!

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.

3. I rotated the start to see what I could see. I decided as much as I wanted to try a low horizon (even doing sketches of possibilities), in the end, I preferred it the other way around.

3. I rotate the start to see what I could see. I decide as much as I want to try a low horizon (even doing sketches of possibilities), in the end, I prefer it the other way around.

4. Taking more pastel, I began layering and also covering the entire surface. I began to sense the movement in the piece

4. Taking more pastel, I begin layering and also covering the entire surface. I want to retain the feeling of movement in the piece.

5. Have a look at it in black and white. I decided I need to introduce more value contrast. You'll see this happens in the next stage.

5. Have a look at it in black and white. I decide I need to introduce more value contrast. You’ll see this happens in the next stage.

6. I have the sense of a road going off into the horizon so I exaggerate that in the sweep of the pastel stroke. I also add more dark and light values (see the black and white below).

6. I have the sense of a road going off into the horizon so I exaggerate that in the sweep of the pastel stroke. I also add more dark and light values (see the black and white below). I begin to feel that I need to stop the movement right off the paper hence the calligraphic squiggles at the bottom.

7. You can more easily see the wider range of values from dark to light in this black and white photo of the pastel.

7. You can more easily see the wider range of values from dark to light in this black and white photo of the pastel.

8. I decide to straighten up the curving strokes, retain the curve in the road but creat the road itself with vertical strokes. I realize I also need to solidify and simplify the whole before I can say it's finished.

8. I decide to straighten up the curving strokes, retain the curve in the road (let’s just call it a road for now) but create the road itself with vertical strokes. I realize I also need to solidify and simplify the whole before I can say it’s finished.

9. The pastel is finished! I simplified all the squiggles at the bottom and also brought in some darks to keep the eye wandering around the piece (and not out over the edge!).

9. I continue to emphasize the vertical strokes. I simplify all the squiggles at the bottom and also bring in some darks to keep the eye wandering around the piece (and not out over the edge!). The abstract pastel is finished! Love love love those Terry Ludwig pastels. I now ‘get’ why everyone raves about them!

 

 

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 🙂

~ Gail

 

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.

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