Tag Archives: Wallis paper

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Painting en plein air, you can find subject matter anywhere!

 

When we’re on location I hear students complain that there is nothing to paint, that they want to move to another location. There is always something to paint – you may just have to look a little harder.

Take for instance this day I was out – it was overcast and I had limited time. It didn’t seem like there was much to paint but then this scene captured my attention:

 

The scene I painted

The scene I painted

The first thing I do before I settle in is to make a thumbnail sketch (as you all know!!) to check for value masses and balance:

 

Thumbnail with three values

Thumbnail with three values

When I am okay with that, I make a quick drawing in charcoal on my paper, in this case, Wallis Belgium Mist:

 

Charcoal sketch on Wallis paper

Charcoal sketch on Wallis paper

It’s time to get started. I pick three pastels in three values (light, medium, dark) and apply lightly and quickly:

 

The first three values are down

The first three values are down. You can see the design clearly now

Now I can begin adding a second layer:

 

The beginning of the build up of pastel layers

The beginning of the build up of pastel layers. I’m feeling my way.

And now I get down to work in earnest:

 

The image begins to emerge

The image begins to emerge. I am interested in capturing all the colours I see.

There are a group of dead branches emerging from the foliage. A tricky subject that needs to be included. How to do them? I just start in and see what happens:

 

More detail added including the grouping of dead branches

More detail added including the grouping of dead branches.

I then add more details and more highlights. Eventually I realize I am beginning to get picky so it was time to stop. Before I did so, I added the small tree on the left feeling the design required a vertical at that point:

 

The final touches before I head home

The final touches before I head home.

Back in the studio a few days later, after considering the pastel, I make a few more tweaks (on the fence for example) and then consider it done!

 

"Trees on Sharpe Rd," pastel on Wallis paper, 9 x 12 in

“Trees on Sharpe Rd,” pastel on Wallis paper, 9 x 12 in

And just for fun, here are a couple more images – one of me at my easel and the other of the pastels I used:

 

At my easel on location at Sharpe Rd

At my easel on location at Sharpe Rd.

Pastels used - quite a few for me!

Sennelier pastels I used – quite a few for me!

Do you have questions about the creation of this pastel? Please ask!

Thanks for being here,

~ Gail