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.

Back in the middle of December, I received an email inviting me to be one of the artists in the Pastel section of Artist’s Drawing Techniques, a book the publisher is hoping to launch in the Fall. That publisher is DK  – “the world’s leading illustrated reference publisher”! I love their books – travel, art, eyewitness books for children, are among the many I’ve seen.

Last year they published Artist’s Painting Techniques, a lavish and technique-focused book.

To tell you the truth, I sort of thought the email might be a joke, or a scam, but it turns out it wasn’t.

After a lot of backing and forthing in emails with questions and clarifications, and ideas and feedback/comments, things became clear and I was committed to the DK Project.

First off, I had to produce sketch ideas of what I’d be painting for various techniques. These were either accepted (or rejected) and if accepted, placed into layouts (a process still underway). Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I got the okay on a few spreads and so I could get to the main work of painting, photographing, and writing.

Here’s the deal – I’m working on 16 spreads of pastel technique. It’s a humungous job with a short deadline. So that’s what I’ve been seriously up to the last few weeks. It’s a fantastic opportunity (if a bit of a scary one) because I’ve often thought about writing a book but that’s not going to happen anytime soon! This book is a great way to get my ideas and pastel work out there. And in the meantime, I work on online courses – next up – Pastels 101!

So let’s take a sneak peak at some of the artwork I’ve been producing for the book. (I can show you pieces but no step-by-steps – those will be in the book along with a whole lot of other things!)


DK Project: Gail Sibley, "Returning Home," Unison pastels on UArt paper, 9 x 12 in
Gail Sibley, “Returning Home,” Unison pastels on UArt paper, 9 x 12 in.


The team at DK are deciding between the next two pastels for the spread – To Blend or Not To Blend (and you know where I lie on that continuum!).

DK Project: Gail Sibley, Tulips 1, pastel, Unison pastels on UArt 500 paper, 12 x 9 in
Gail Sibley, Tulips 1, pastel, Unison pastels on UArt 500 paper, 12 x 9 in


DK Project: Gail Sibley, Tulips 2, pastel, Unison pastels on UArt 500 paper, 12 x 9 in
Gail Sibley, Tulips 2, pastel, Unison pastels on UArt 500 paper, 12 x 9 in


I finished this one yesterday:

DK Project: Gail Sibley, "Passing Through (Budapest)," Unison pastels on UArt 500 grit paper, 12 x 13 in
Gail Sibley, “Passing Through (Budapest),” Unison pastels on UArt 500 grit paper, 12 x 13 in


DK Project: Gail Sibley, "Passing Through (Budapest)" - detail, Unison pastels on UArt 500 grit paper, 12 x 13 in
Gail Sibley, “Passing Through (Budapest)” – detail, Unison pastels on UArt 500 grit paper, 12 x 13 in


And finally, the one I worked on today. Still some tweaking and adjusting to be done.

DK Project: Gail Sibley, "Taking a Sip," Unison pastels on UArt 320 grade, 12 x 18 in
Work in progress. Gail Sibley, “Taking a Sip,” Unison pastels on UArt 320 grade, 12 x 18 in


Three more pieces drawn up to work on over the next few days. Then I hear what else has been okayed and add that to my pastelling list! I’ll be at this until at least the middle of February. You can still look forward to a super guest blog and hopefully a January round-up!


I’d love to hear your thoughts about this DK Project. I am SUPER excited!!!!

All for now.


Until next time,



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63 thoughts on “Curious About What I’m Working On? It’s the DK Project”

  1. That gate in Budapest is simply a masterpiece!! I loooove the light and the contrast in coulors. Oh waw ….the light violet and the ocher (spelling??) just such a wonderful example in a restricted palet and how beautiful it can be. Congratulations on your project DK (thought for a minute it was Denmark, as DK is Denmark :-)), looking forward to see the book.

  2. Just beautiful Gail. Lovely.
    I wish I could so such wonders !
    I too am busy with family guests and eternal cooking and cleaning since 8th Jan…to 15th Feb!
    More later

    1. Thanks Iris! I am nodding in sympathy at all the daily work you are needing to do with guests. Sigh. I am sure you will be itching to get back to painting on the 16th Feb!

  3. Congratulations, Gail. DK books are excellent and I have bought and admired them for years. Your contributions will be totally in keeping with their quality and I look forward to more news of your progress.

  4. How exciting! Wonderful paintings and all so different and colourful. Once again, your postings have inspired me! I look forward to the publication. Thank you Gail.

    1. Thanks Jane. It’s quite the project not only to paint but to come up with words that fit into the DK layout template. A good experience (and I’ll be happy when it’s done!).

  5. Thanks Gail for the sneak peak! Very glad you mixed it up with these varied subjects. Love the “Taking a Sip” Its so original! Looking forward seeing more when its ready!

    1. Thanks so much Linda. I had a great time sorting through my photos and ideas and then making sketches of my choices for the publishers to review. I tried to cover many subjects. Wait and see!

  6. That’s so exciting! Congratulations!
    I have the DK book you reference, it was a Christmas present, and it is excellent. However I noted the absence of coverage of pastel as a medium so I’m thrilled that not only is that being remedied, but by none other than my new pastel hero – YOU!
    DK made an excellent choice, I’m sure they will be delighted.

    1. Lindsey that is so cool about you having the companion DK book! I can imagine your surprise at there being no pastel included. That’s the one small argh thing about this whole project – that pastel is included in the drawing book. Still, I think the work by myself and the other artists (?) will show the painterly look of the medium. And I wasn’t going to fuss was I??!
      Thank you so much for your lovely compliments!

  7. Wow, that’s awesome, Gail. Good for you. Congratulations and keep deep breathing ‘cuz that’s a whole lot of work to add to your workload. I know you can do it though and it will be great. The pieces you’ve shown us here are gorgeous.

    1. Thanks for the deep breathing reminder Jymme! One thing that hasn’t slipped and seems all the more important is going to my gym and dance classes. I absolutely need them at the end of the day. And thank you too for your confidence in me and your kind compliments!

  8. Congratulations Gail!
    How exciting and rewarding! You are a fabulous pastelist and I love that you will be a part of this amazing project. I look forward to buying the book!

    Your doting fan,
    Paula B

  9. I love that cat sketch! Wonderful painting. They’re all good but both the sketch and the painting of the cat just made me grin! That thick tail gives it a look almost like a cougar – the pose, the anatomy, body rounding and gesture were so grand. I watch cats constantly and when a cat painter gets one that lively and real, with weight distributed naturally, muscles bulging, shoulders bumping… it’s a joy. Beautiful cat in a candid moment drinking!

  10. Gail –
    You are amazing! I’m so happy for you and thrilled that you are receiving the recognition that you so deserve. You’ll let us know, right(?), when it’s out in print. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to when you release your video Pastel 101! Please put me on whichever list you may have as a buyer for one of each! Thanks so much for your inspiration! You impart it in so many ways. Looking forward to seeing you on February 19th for our private coaching session on Zoom!

  11. Wow, what great news, congrats!! These paintings are fantastic!! Glad to hear that you are taking time out from your rigorous schedule to totally immerse yourself in this project. You must be bursting with ideas and the passion and excitement you are experiencing right now shows in these beautiful paintings!

    1. Heather thanks for your lovely words and compliment. You are so right about ideas and excitement from this immersion. I can hardly wait to get into my studio in the morning. (At the end, I think I’ll need a wee holiday!!)

  12. what a fabulous opportunity for sure….all the best for the work ahead…you’ll be wonderful, and i look forward to seeing the end result! cheers!

    1. Linda thanks for your total confidence in me!! And yes, an opportunity that came unexpectedly knocking and which I grabbed with both hands happily and, I admit, with some panic!

  13. Wow! Congratulations! What a great honor! I look forward to seeing more of your work on this project and to getting the book when it is released! Enjoy your journey!

  14. Congratulations! What a fabulous opportunity Gail! The pieces you have posted here are absolutely amazing and will help many artists understand the qualities of pastel as a medium so much better! I love every single piece you have prepared for this new book and cant wait to get a copy of it! Please keep us all posted!

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Gail Sibley

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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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