Tag Archives: Unison pastels

Detail of final pastel painting

Improve Your Paintings With The Power Of Negative Space

I’m writing this sitting in Frankfurt airport as I travel home from my 7-day Croatia workshop. Teaching this workshop got me thinking a lot about negative space – both its power as a visual device and as a tool to aid in the creation of a painting. My demo and lesson on the last day touched on the use of negative space.

Here’s my demo:

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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.

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Choosing Your First Soft Pastels

Choosing Your First Soft Pastels

Probably the question I get asked the most is: “What pastels would you suggest I start with? And by the way, I have a limited budget.” Choosing your first soft pastels should be easy but with all the choices we have, the decisions become more difficult. This week I answer the question!

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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.

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Breaking the rules: I wanted to bring the parts of the floor together and make it all less colourful. So I scumbled a warm black pastel (Unison Grey 13) over much of the floor area. And it's done. Gail Sibley, "Night Slippers on Black," Unison pastels on UART 320 grade, 12 x 12 in.

How Breaking The Rules Can Overcome Blank Canvas Syndrome

I’m back in my studio after a wee getaway to Seattle and then Salt Spring Island. The DK Project is pretty much wrapped up so I can do what I like in my studio. But being able to do anything often means I do nothing! And so the blank canvas sits starring back at me. I’ve spoken previously about the usefulness of boundaries and restrictions in pushing creativity so I decided to set up a challenge. This time, it would be about breaking the rules.

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Creating colour studies: three colour studies with first layer

How Creating Colour Studies Can Improve Your Paintings

I know how tempting it is to get right in there and paint when you’re excited about a subject. But hold on, did you do a thumbnail?! And what about creating colour studies, have you drawn up a couple of those?

I know I know, I hear you – it all takes so much time!! But you know what? A bit of time spent in preparation can save you frustration and disappointment in the long run, and also help you produce an exceptional painting!

So what are colour studies?

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DK Project: Pencil sketch for "Taking a Sip"

Curious About What I’m Working On? It’s the DK Project

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I was working on a BIG project that was going to consume a LOT of my time hence my skipping the round-up of December paintings and also missing last Tuesday’s blog. (Thanks to those of you who wrote me noticing that a blog hadn’t arrived in your inbox last week!) I’ve been given the okay to tell you about it. I can’t share all but I can give you hints. Curious? Let’s call it the DK Project.

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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?

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Plein Air Painting Of Trees…And More Trees!

 

So much for getting this post out by the end of August! What can I say – the summertime craziness has discombobulated me.

The Alaska cruise with my family was lovely (bar getting bitten by some insect which blew up my foot into an ugly puff ball). It was so wonderful to get together with my siblings, their mates, and my parents. Sad when it was over. But then we had the pleasure of my sister and her partner visiting for a fun couple of days. Now, I’m finally getting back into the swing of things. 

Right, what’s on tap today. Well I thought I’d share the progression of a plein air painting of trees that I have just entered into the Sidney Fine Art Show (fingers crossed).

My Mum, Dad and I went out painting in July. Unusual for us, this was an afternoon outing (rather than a morning one). Since we would start losing light, we didn’t want to spend a whole heap of time looking for a spot so we settled on parking at the Long Harbour ferry terminal. There was water, trees, and buildings to choose from. Even so, I had a hard time committing to a scene. And then I turned around and saw this:

 

Trees and more trees near Long Harbour ferry terminal.

Trees and more trees near Long Harbour ferry terminal. I was attracted by the couple of arbutus trees and the white trunks of some other trees standing out from all the green. A challenge that’s for sure!

 

My drawing in charcoal on Wallis paper. Only the main shapes are indicated.

My drawing in charcoal on Wallis paper. Only the main shapes are indicated. (Apologies for the shadows – I couldn’t get set up completely in the shade.)

 

I've indicated the main shapes in pastel - primarily light and dark. You can see I also chose to show the temperature of the shapes - warm arbutus and light areas, cool shadow areas

I’ve indicated the main shapes in pastel – primarily light and dark. You can see I also chose to show the temperature of the shapes – warm arbutus and light areas, cool shadow areas.

 

Just after I have rubbed the whole thing with paper towel. This gives me an 'underpainting' to work on, one that has no wage of paper showing through.

Just after I have rubbed the whole thing with paper towel. This gives me an ‘underpainting’ to work on, one that has no white of paper showing through.

 

Because it was late in the day, the sun slipped behind a hill and then my strong sunlight disappeared leaving me with a very flat scene. Luckily, I had put in my values and so continued, using the underpainting as my guide.

Because it was late in the day, the sun slipped behind a hill leaving me with a very flat scene. Luckily, I had put in my values and so continued, using the ‘underpainting’ as my guide.

 

Here I have built up the forms. Much of it is lines of colour in the correct value.

Here I have built up the forms. Much of it is lines of colour in the correct value. (Again, apologies for the dappled light.)

 

Some darker areas introduced

Some darker areas of blue introduced.

 

Gail Sibley, "Trees And More Trees," pastel on Wallis paper, 12 x 9 in

And here’s the finale of my plein air painting of trees…. Gail Sibley, “Trees And More Trees,” pastel on Wallis paper, 12 x 9 in

 

The selection of pastels I used - all from Unison's starter kit except the one pink/mauve which is from Great American's starter box.

The selection of pastels I used – all from Unison’s starter kit except the one pink/mauve which is from Great American’s starter box.

 

My Mum and Dad painting out with me. (My Dad's down by the signpost.)

My Mum and Dad painting out with me. (My Dad’s down by the signpost.)

 

This painting was unusual for me. For one thing, there aren’t many layers. And for another, it painted itself like an abstract. I was in wonder at the end of the hour and a half. How did that happen??

 

Which reminds me to remind you that I am offering a pastel workshop, “Moving Towards Abstraction,” on Salt Spring Island on the last September weekend. You can read more about it here.  Please tell anyone you know who may be interested!

 

I do hope the progression of my plein air painting of trees was helpful. Did I leave something out? Let me know!!

 

Until next time,

~ Gail


PS. I know it’s not a pastel painting but I could not NOT tell you my good news!! I was awarded the GRAND PRIZE for “Perchance To Fly” in the Federation of Canadian Artist’s show Painting On The Edge – an open international juried show. This prestigious exhibition is difficult to get into and I was thrilled to have accomplished that but to win the top prize?? Unbelievable, unimaginable, unthinkable. But here it is, I won!!

Click here to go to the FCA’s webpage and see my work. And click here if you would like to see the painting’s progression.

Gail Sibley, "Perchance To Fly," mixed media, 16 x 16 in

Gail Sibley, “Perchance To Fly,” mixed media, 16 x 16 in