Tag Archives: Schminke pastels

Paint even when you don't feel like it: That's it! Gail Sibley, "Last Fling," Schminke pastels on UArt 400 paper, 6 x 6 in

Why You Should Paint Even When You Don’t Feel Like It… And Some Gerberas

Today I painted even though I didn’t feel like it. The reason? This blog. The looming deadline acted as a spark and ignited my painting soul. And I realized how important it is to paint even when you don’t feel like it.

Painting isn’t easy.

Being creative isn’t easy.

It’s damn hard work in fact. And because it’s hard work, sometimes we just don’t do it!

Those who don’t create usually don’t understand how difficult painting is. It’s all, “What fun it must be to spend time all day painting” and “How lucky you are to spend time painting.” True for sure, but you just know the way it’s being said that those speakers think it’s an easy, laadeedah thing you’re doing.

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Demos At IAPS In The Schminke Pastels Booth

At the beginning of June, as you know, I was at the wonderful bi-annual International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) Convention. I was fortunate to be asked to demo twice using Schminke pastels at their booth.

What to paint? Well, if you know me, you know I prefer working from life, so the first demo was a no-brainer – I’d do a still life set up. And if you’ve been following my YouTube videos you know I’m a big promoter of using quality pastels in a limited palette. (This is to help show beginners that they only need to start with a small selection of pastels which means they can afford to purchase good quality rather than mediocre pastels!)

And what did I decide to do for my demo the following day? Well, wait and see!

Let’s have a look at the first demo.

Set up for Schminke pastels demo

The set-up. I wanted to include a full value range from dark to light as well as different types of items. My viewpoint changed slightly from this photo as I stepped to the easel.

Gary, the Schminke rep, asked me to use the small set of Schminke pastels that I'd used in my earlier videos. Well that put a wrench in the works! So few pastels to choose from!

Gary, the Schminke rep, asked me to use the small set of Schminke pastels that I’d used in my earlier videos. Well that put a wrench in the works! So few pastels to choose from – only 11!

Schminke pastels in black and white photo. This easily shows you the value range available!

Schminke pastels in black and white photo. This easily shows you the value range available. Two lights, one very dark, one fairly dark, and the rest midtones (the brown and one of the reds are missing.)

Thumbnail for demo using Schminke pastels

Hmmmm…my thumbnail except as you can see, I forgot (how??) to add values! Nevertheless, it helped me see how the items were placed and made it easier for me to sketch the set up on paper.

Drawing in vine charcoal and first layer of Schminke pastels on

Drawing in vine charcoal and first layer of pastels on. Usually, I block in the three main values – light, middle and dark. Here I worked differently in that I only had two lights to work with. So instead, I began by putting in shapes of colour over which I would layer my lights (and darks and mid-values). The red and the blue are the darks and will eventually become darks and mid-values, the orange mid-tone will eventually become a light value, and the yellow will remain a light value.

 

Beginning to build the layers with Schminke pastels

Beginning to build the layers. It’s tough going working in colours that aren’t the correct values. (They will eventually be layered over to create the appropriate value.) All this is made even more tricky with the broken focus that comes with demoing. Good practice!

 

Beginning to shift values to correct range using Schminke pastels

Beginning to shift values to correct range. Bit bizarre isn’t it?!

 

The image above in black and white. This really shows you where the values stand. I wanted to point out a small value lesson. Looking at this image, you really can't tell the difference between the orange and the colour of the paper! Cool huh?

The image above in black and white. This really shows you where the values stand. I wanted to point out a small value lesson. Looking at this image, you really can’t tell the difference between the orange and the colour of the paper! Cool huh? I can see I need to darken the mug a whole lot more.

 

More Schminke pastels applied

More pastel applied

 

The final piece. Schminke pastels on Pastel Premier paper med fine 320 grit Italian Clay

Photographed on my return home in daylight on a cloudy day, the colours look a bit bluer than they actually are. Schminke pastels on Pastel Premier paper med fine 320 grit, Italian Clay

 

With the black and white version, you can see how things have changed!

With the black and white version, you can see how things have changed!

 

One down, one more to go.

I decided that since I had recently begun offering a workshop called “Reality to Abstract,” I’d have my second piece use the first demo as a base from which to go abstract. And even though Gary was kind enough to offer me the use of a larger set, I decided to stick with the smaller set to see what would happen.

Here goes!

 

First Schminke pastels down with little care. Can you see the main items of pear, mug, and tea bags?

First colours down with little care. I just went for it! Can you see the main items of pear, mug, and tea bags?

 

Now what? I just trusted my intuition, believing the process would take me somewhere. I just let go and applied Schminke pastels, watching where my hand and heart took me.

Now what? I just trusted my intuition, believing the process would take me somewhere. I just let go and watched where my hand and heart took me.

 

This is it so far. (The demo was a bit shorter as it was soon time to pack the booth away.) Crazy huh? Gail Sibley, "Untitled as yet," Schminke pastels on UArt ? grit, ?

I began to think about the formal qualities of composition, value, line, shapes, edge etc. I added colours according to what I felt the painting needed.

 

For interest sake, here it is in black and white so you can see how the values are arranged. (Sorry about the shadow top right.)

For interest’s sake, here it is in black and white so you can see how the values are arranged. (Sorry about the shadow top right.)

 

This is how the piece finished up. Crazy huh? (The demo was a bit shorter as it was soon time to pack the booth away.) I need to decide how much more work to do on it if any. Schminke pastels on UArt 320, 12 x 18 in

This is how the piece finished up. Crazy huh?  (The demo was a bit shorter as it was soon time to pack the booth away.) I need to decide how much more work to do on it if any. Schminke pastels on UArt 320 paper, 12 x 18 in

 

And here's me at work on the first demo using Schminke pastels

And here I am at work on the first demo. You can see  part of the set up I was working from. I’m using an easel borrowed from Dakota Pastels. Kicking myself for not buying it. It would have been perfect for my upcoming trip to Budapest! Argh.

 

I enjoyed trying out new papers and can certainly recommend them both – UArt 320 and Pastel Premier 320 Italian Clay. They both took the layering of soft pastel very well. And of course I loved using the Schminke pastels!

Look forward to hearing what you think about these pieces! So please leave a comment 🙂

Until next week,

~ Gail

 

IAPS – A Whale Of A Time!

Settling back into real life after a fabulous time at the 2015 International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico. What to tell you about it??

Well, for the first time, I was totally on the Vendor side of the Convention – I didn’t register as a participant (for one, it sold out so quickly – which is fantastic!) so I didn’t sign up for any demos.

IAPS: My official vendor badge!

My official vendor badge!

I got to serve and play in the Candy Store both at the Holbein booth and at the Schminke booth. At each place, I was greeted by many of my subscribers who shared how much they love this blog. Wow – talk about walking on air!!! Makes all this effort oh so worth it. I’m kicking myself for not getting photos of me with these encouraging folk.

I also didn’t get photos with myself cozying up to the big whigs and my pastel heroes. Why I didn’t do that I can’t tell you – I just never thought of it at the time. Argh. I’ll do better in 2017! The connecting with old friends and making new ones is a huge part of the joy at IAPS. Here are a few photos in the trade show:

IAPS - Working (and playing!) at the Trade Show

IAPS – Working (and playing!) at the Trade Show. From top right down: Doug Hopper (Holbein head honcho), my friend and artist Stephanie Birdsall, and me; Me and Marla Baggetta who I was lucky enough to chat with over a long lunch; Me and my ‘boss’ Gary at the Schminke booth; Stef, her friend Alex Barlett who I was so happy to get to know, and Urania Tarbet Christy – founder of IAPS; Stef, Terry Ludwig (the man himself!) and me; and finally Doug Hopper in the Holbein booth.

 

One of the really fun things at IAPS was the Paint-Around with Stan Sperlak, Tony Allain, Terri Ford, Alain J. Picard, and Marla Baggetta – what a hoot. Each artist starts a painting then every 10 minutes, the painting moves on one person until it comes back to the originator. I only saw the end of the event but could, on entering, feel the fun and frantic energy in the room.

When not demoing over at the Schminke booth in pastels, I was playing around in acrylic (heavy body and the new fluid paint), Acryla Gouache, and water soluble pastels at the Holbein booth, showing off how fabulous the products are. This while Stef showed off her skills in pastel at the Holbein booth.

IAPS - Paint Around participants, My playful paint experiments, Stef pastelling at the Holbein booth

Paint Around participants; my playful paint experiments; and Stef pastelling at the Holbein booth

Then there was the IAPS exhibition itself that I managed to dash into a couple of times (but regrettably missed the walk-around with Duane Wakeham). So many wonderful pictures!! Happy to see many that have been featured in my monthly round-up!

It wasn’t all work. The first day I got there (Tuesday 2 June), I managed to get in the pool. The outside temperature was so warm. What a treat. Ahhhhhhhhhh. AND, to top it all off, that night there was a full moon. Sigh.

IAPS- Enjoying life in Albuquerque!

Enjoying life! Me at the pool; view from the bedroom of the town of Albuquerque under the full moon; gorgeous flowers near the pool

Here are some of the other cool things that happened:

 

– I danced like crazy Thursday night with Stef as my partner then persuaded Schminke’s Gary to have a dance, and eventually got a whole heap of gals up to dance to Artisan Art Store’s own Ron Whitmore’s band

– I recorded about 10 short video interviews (which I will be posting in the next few days) thanks to the generosity of the artists who participated

– I enjoyed the keynote talk at the Saturday banquet by Esther Bell (Curator in Charge, European Paintings at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco) about the effect of the French Revolution on the way pastels were used in later decades. It’s only now that the full force and styles of pastels is being revived

– I ate and drank very well thanks in huge part to Holbein’s Doug Hopper and to other kind souls around

– I caught up with my friend Stephanie Birdsall – a lot can happen in two years!

– I had wonderful conversations with so many fabulous artists like Duane Wakeham, Jimmy Wright, Sandra Burshell, Bill Creevy, and Marla Baggetta. I only wish I could have found the time to do more socializing (for example, Sally Strand and I totally missed getting together – I don’t know how that happened!).

– I did two demos in the Schminke booth and was generously provided with UArt and Pastel Premier papers to try out. I loved them! Not so much worry now about the unavailability of Wallis paper. I will show you the demo progress of the pieces in my next blog.

– On Sunday 7th June, after connecting with various folk in the morning, I made my way to the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History just around the corner. (I got caught in an unusual 2-min downpour getting there. Crazy! I was pretty wet by the time I found the entrance.) I’ll share some of the work I saw in a blog for gailsibley.com. In the meantime, here’s a few images to keep you going.

 

And that’s about it!

Being at the IAPS Convention really was a time of joy – hanging out with people who love pastels as much as I do in beautiful and warm New Mexico. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Until next time,

~ Gail

 

PS. Really, I’m not Rita!

IAPS-The twins: Rita Kirkman and me!

At IAPS, I met Rita Kirkman. Everyone thought I was her! I wonder why…..

IMG_8374

 

Pastel Demo At Opus A Marvellous Experience!

Opus Art Store Pastel Demo

Wow, did I ever have a fun day on Sunday doing my pastel demo!! I can’t believe I’m saying that what with a bit of anxiety days before around the whole thing – what was I going to paint? how nervous would I be? how would it turn out?

I got there in plenty of time to set up, do a thumbnail sketch, and then get the initial charcoal sketch done on the Wallis paper I was using. Then I was ready. And suddenly, it was 11am, the store was open and there were about 20 people flowing into the chairs. I was surprised to see only a couple of people I knew. (With luck, I may have a few new subscribers to this blog :-))

I spoke a bit about pastel choices and the benefit of using a limited palette, about types of paper, and then I got into the demo. I really tried to make a point of verbalizing what was going on in my head as well as what I was doing on paper, rather than just drift into the ‘zone’ and work. It seemed to go pretty well! I was lucky to have an appreciative and encouraging audience who appeared to enjoy the pastel demo and find it useful. I’m glad that, in the end, I chose a subject I had painted before and also that I did a simple set up.

I don’t have progression steps but I do have a photo of the setup, my thumbnail sketch, the pastels I used from my limited palette of Schminke, and the demo at the end. (Kicking myself that I didn’t get a shot of the area with everyone in it!) The two hours flew by and of course I lost track of time so near the end, I needed to get to the highlights before I would normally indulge myself with this treat.

Take a look.

 

Pastel demo set up of two peppers and garlic cloves

Pastel demo set up of two peppers and garlic cloves. The photograph removes so much of the subtleties and colour shifts you can see in life!

 

Thumbnail sketch in pencil for pastel demo

Thumbnail sketch in pencil for the pastel demo. You can see the three main value areas of dark cast shadow, lightest value where the light hits the peppers and garlic cloves, and middle value for most of the rest.

 

The pastel demo at the end of about 1 1/2 hours of working and lots of talking between!

The pastel demo at the end of about 1 1/2 hours of working and lots of talking between! The piece is definitely not complete but that’s as far as I got in the allotted time. One thing I found was that the Wallis paper had a different texture from what I’m used to. It’s fine but was a surprise as I worked. The texture almost shows through more like watercolour paper. There’s so much more I wanted to do – work on the orange pepper, darken the clove in the cast shadow, work a bit more on the background cloth. Ah well.

 

 

The eleven Schminke pastels I used for the pastel demo, looking rather dirty

The eleven Schminke pastels I used, looking rather dirty.

 

The small set of Schminke pastels from which I pulled my pastels for this pastel demo

The set of Schminke pastels from which I chose my pastels

Yes, doing the pastel demo at Opus was really a great experience for me!!

 

Featured Artist!

I am honoured to be chosen as the feature artist for December on the Pastel Artists Canada Facebook Page. Check it out here!

 

That’s it for this time. Love hearing from you!!

 

For now,

~ Gail

 

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

A limited palette proves a challenge in this pastel painting video

 

I recently uploaded another pastel painting video to YouTube. In it, I used a limited palette of eight Schminke soft pastels on Wallis paper. Here’s the finished piece:

 

Gail Sibley, "Red Pepper and Two Garlic Cloves," Schminke pastels on Wallis paper, 6 x 6 in

Gail Sibley, “Red Pepper and Two Garlic Cloves,” Schminke soft pastels on Wallis paper, 6 x 6 in

 

And here’s the video showing the process start to finish – just click on the image:

 

YouTube video showing the painting process speeded up

YouTube video showing the pastel painting process sped up

 

Here are a couple of other images. First the quick black and white thumbnail sketch I did initially to understand the subject and values:

 

Thumbnail sketch of red pepper and garlic cloves

Thumbnail sketch of red pepper and garlic cloves, about 1.5 x 1.5 in

 

Here’s the set-up. I work from life and by doing so can see so much more colour and many more value shifts than are available in a photo but at least it gives you a sense of the subject.

 

Photo of red pepper and garlic cloves set-up

Photo of red pepper and garlic cloves on green paper

 

Just for fun, let’s compare the photo in black and white with the finished pastel painting shown below in black and white.

 

Photo in black and white of the red pepper and cloves

Photo in black and white of the red pepper and cloves

The pastel painting in black and white

The pastel painting in black and white

I can see where I could have deepened the values but when I look at the colour version of the pastel painting, I’m happy with the way it turned out. That’s artistic license in action!

 

I would really love to hear your comments on the video. Was what I had to say useful? Is there something you’d like me to talk about in future videos? Please help me to help you! Please comment on the blog post or after the YouTube video.

 

Thanks for reading and watching 🙂

 

Pastel on!!

Gail

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plein air painting on Salt Spring – A Visit to the Vineyards

A couple of weeks ago, I went to visit my Mum and Dad on Salt Spring. It had been a while since I’d spent some time with them and although I have good friends on SSI and always want to visit everyone, I decided to spend the time wholly with my parents. We planned to paint plein air and that’s what we did.

We ended up at Mistaken Identity Vineyards, a delightful place to spend part of the day pastelling en plein air. Here is the progression from first thought to final piece (finished in the studio).

The initial thumbnail sketch, 1.25 x 1.5 in - so the size in the post is way to large!!!

The initial thumbnail sketch, 1.25 x 1.5 in – so the size in the post is way to large!!!

I did a second thumbnail to redesign the composition slightly - showing more of the vineyard and less of the trees in the distance

I did a second thumbnail to redesign the composition slightly – showing more of the vineyard and less of the trees in the distance. I also played around with the angle of the row of vines and went more with the alignment in the first sketch.

 

Here's the sketchy charcoal drawing on Wallis paper.

Here’s the sketchy charcoal drawing on Wallis paper – just a bare indication of the design. You’ll notice it’s WHITE Wallis where I usually use beige or toned-with-watercolour paper (as in my demo videos). This was something I hadn’t dealt with before, certainly not en plein air.

 

The Schminke pastel selection I have to choose from. These pastels come in a beautiful wooden box. They are perfect for plein air painting!

The Schminke pastel selection I had to choose from. These pastels come in a beautiful wooden box. They are perfect for plein air painting!

 

Here comes the first colour. I applied then brushed with a paper towel, trying to cover the glaring white paper!

Here comes the first colour. I applied the pastel then brushed with a paper towel, trying to cover the glaring white paper! There was a deep shadow on the right hand side of the vines, hence the deep blue.

 

Now I pretty much have the white covered. It's time to dive in!

Now I pretty much have the white paper covered. It’s time to dive in! One of the things that attracted me to doing the scene was the light coming between the twisted stems of the grapes. Here I have begun the barest indication of them. I’ve also strengthened the far edge where the vines meet the background trees.

 

The first indications of a second layer

The first indications of a second layer

 

More pastel added. Moving along slowly, I build up layers. I am using a limited palette of Schminke pastels (as seen above) so need to create the colour I see with only a few pastels.

More pastel added. Moving along slowly, I build up layers. I am using a limited palette of Schminke pastels (as seen above) so need to create the colour I see with only a few pastels.

 

Pretty much how I left the pastel on site. By now the sun had moved around so much that the only cast shadows to be seen where right under the vines. Time to pack up and leave.

Pretty much how I left the pastel on site. By now the sun had moved around so much that the only cast shadows to be seen where right under the vines. Time to pack up and leave.

 

But that wasn’t quite the end of the story. Mistaken Identity Vineyards were holding a summer celebration that Sunday and it was just beginning to get underway. The local newspaper’s photographer, Jen MacLellan, was on hand and snapped a few shots of me pastelling en plein air.

 

And the following Wednesdaythis fine photo of me appeared in the Driftwood newspaper!

 

Gail's photo in the Driftwood Newspaper

Gail’s photo in the Driftwood Newspaper

 

So much for a quiet sneak onto Salt Spring. I hadn’t let anyone other than my parents know I was visiting and now everyone knew I’d been on the island!!! Cracked me up I’ll tell you. 🙂

Here’s a view of the vines I was painting:

 

Vines at Mistaken Identity Vineyards

Vines at Mistaken Identity Vineyards

 

And here’s the final pastel after a bit of tweaking in the studio. You can see I warmed up the backlit vines as well as the ground. I also added some mauve areas, for instance, in among the background trees.

 

Gail Sibley, "Pinot Gris," pastel, 9 x 12 in

Gail Sibley, “Pinot Gris,” pastel, 9 x 12 in.

So remember, beware of sneaking around in vineyards!

Before I leave, I wanted to let you know that I will be teaching a two-day plein air pastel workshop on Salt Spring 24-25th of August. If you are on my list of people interested in workshops, you will receive an email with more details in the next couple of days. If you are not on that list and would like more info, please let me know. And I encourage you to spread the word to anyone who might be interested! It’s open to all levels.

Thanks for spending this time with me. If you have any questions about this process or about painting en plein air, please leave a comment with your query.

Thanks so much for reading.

~ Gail