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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

 

 

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Headshot of Gail Sibley

Gail Sibley

Artist. Blogger. Teacher.

My love of pastel and the enjoyment I receive from teaching about pastel inspired the creation of this blog. It has tips, reviews, some opinions:), and all manner of information regarding their use through the years – old and new. Please enjoy!

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