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Iceland Poppies - detail for feature image

Iceland Poppies – My Demos At IAPS Using Schmincke Pastels

I was delighted to be invited by Ed and Gary to demo at the Schmincke booth at the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) Conference again this year. What to paint? I had a few possible reference photos collected but just before I left home, my mum, excited about some Iceland Poppies that a neighbour had brought over, sent me a couple of photos of them as a possible subject. Beautiful!! I decided to choose one of them.

After I painted my first demo, I had planned on choosing a totally different subject for my second piece, but on reviewing the photos my mum had sent, I decided to work from a photo of the Iceland Poppies that looked completely different from the first one. I liked the idea of the same subject with an alternative look! 

I’ll take you through the progress of both demos. Neither of them are finished but for now, I’m pleased with the way they are looking.

In the first demo painting, I used the full spectrum of the value scale from light to dark. In the second one, I moved my value scale up into the lighter section. (This blog relates to the previous one I wrote about moving up or down the value scale.)

The pastels used are of course Schmincke. I set myself the challenge of choosing only pastels from their 20-piece wooden box set. I have to admit that a couple of times I was tempted to reach for other colours (outside the set) but thought, No Gail, stick with what you have and make it work!

So let’s have a look. First off, have a look at the box of Schmincke pastels that I selected colours from for both demos.

Wooden box of 20 Schmincke soft pastels used for both Iceland Poppies demos
Wooden box of 20 Schmincke soft pastels used for both Iceland Poppies demos

Here’s the progression of my first demo – from the reference image and thumbnail to the outcome:

Reference photo for my first demo. Very dramatic lighting!!
Reference photo for my first demo. Very dramatic lighting!!
My thumbnail for my first demo of the Iceland Poppies. You can see the three value areas.
My thumbnail for my first demo of the Iceland Poppies. You can see the three value areas.
First three colours in dark, middle, and light values. I'm working on Pastelbord "Sand", 14 x 11 in.
First three colours in dark, middle, and light values. I’m working on Pastelbord “Sand”, 14 x 11 in.
Here it is in black and white. You can see my middle value colour is quite dark but is still lighter than my dark areas.
Here it is in black and white. You can see my middle value colour is quite dark but is still lighter than my dark areas.
Beginning to apply more pastels. I'm still working in the big shapes.
Beginning to apply more pastels. I’m still working in the big shapes.
Starting to indicate the Iceland poppies, often by cutting in with negative shapes.
Starting to indicate the poppies, often by cutting in with negative shapes.
Gail Sibley, "Iceland Poppies," Schmincke pastels on Pastelbord, 14 x 11 in. How it looks currently!
Adding the highlights! Gail Sibley, “Iceland Poppies,” Schmincke pastels on Pastelbord, 14 x 11 in. How it looks currently!
Partway through my first demo of Iceland Poppies at the Schmincke pastel booth.
Partway through my first demo of Iceland Poppies at the Schmincke pastel booth.

Now let’s have a look at the second demo.

Photo reference for the second demo of Iceland Poppies.
Photo reference for the second demo of Iceland Poppies.
The thumbnail. You can see that the only dark in this piece is in the Iceland poppy stems. All the rest is middle or light value.
The thumbnail. You can see that the only dark in this piece is in the poppy stems. All the rest is middle or light value.
First three colours in three different values. I'm working on mounted UART paper, 12 x 16 in.
First three colours in three different values. I’m working on mounted UART paper, 12 x 16 in.
The same thing - three colours in three values  (with a small addition top left before I snapped the photo). The only difference is that I've rubbed the pastel with pipe insulation to give me a more solid colour of dry underpainting.
The same thing – three colours in three values (with a small addition top left before I snapped the photo). The only difference is that I’ve rubbed the pastel with pipe insulation to give me a more solid colour of dry underpainting.
Building up layers of pastel and colour. I've definitely made it a bit darker and more dramatic than the original photo. And that's just fine. I've still got my three main value areas.
Building up layers of pastel and colour. I’ve definitely made it a bit darker and more dramatic than the original photo. And that’s just fine. I’ve still got my three main value areas. (Did you notice though that I departed from my thumbnail a bit, adding a darker look to the bottom right?)
And this is the Iceland Poppies in demo two as I left them. I still feel this one needs some work particularly in the upper part of the background. On mounted UART paper, 16 x 12 in.
And this is the Iceland Poppies in demo two as I left them. I still feel this one needs some work particularly in the upper part of the background. On mounted UART paper, 16 x 12 in.
Iceland Poppies 2 in black and white. You can see that I mostly stuck with my value map although the upper part of the painting and the lower right head towards the dark values.
Iceland Poppies 2 in black and white. You can see that I mostly stuck with my value map although the upper part of the painting and the lower right head towards the dark values.

And that’s it! What did you think of the difference between the two? I loved painting the Iceland Poppies and would love to paint them from life one day. Are they a subject you’ve tackled? I would LOVE to hear from you!!

Until next time,

~ Gail

PS. Here are a few photos of me with various people at IAPS. I loved seeing old friends and getting to meet new ones!! I especially loved putting a name I knew with a full 3-D person!

Having a fun evening with my Schmincke "bosses" Ed Bricker and Gary Lange. These guys are awesome!
Having a fun evening with my Schmincke “bosses” Ed Bricker and Gary Lange. These guys are awesome!

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Comments

22 thoughts on “Iceland Poppies – My Demos At IAPS Using Schmincke Pastels”

  1. Beautiful, and just perfect Gail! I would not touch the background again. For me I can say that I usually overdo it when I start to rework a painting. 😉 Funny coincidence, just yesterday I thought about having a go at poppies, but decided to do the tulips first which have been in my mind since Springtime!
    Warm regards, Gabriela

    1. Thanks Gabriela!!! I think if I do any work on them it will be the smallest of tweaks. I like them overall but may just punch up a few areas. I certainly don’t want to lose the freshness or energy.
      Ahhh tulips! Probably my all time favourite flower to paint!!

  2. Oh Gail, it’s wonderful. And somehow different. If I hadn’t seen it on your blog, I wouldn’t have recognized it as your work. Is it the paper? The so very soft pastels (Schminke are my favorites)? Anyway if I saw it in a gallery i’d scoop it up!
    Congratulations!
    Nancy

    1. That’s so good to hear Nancy. And they are available for swooping so please do email me if you’re interested!
      As to them being different… Well… For the first one I worked on Paatelbord for the first time. To my surprise, I loved it! The second surface was mounted UART which I have to admit wasn’t my favourite (although I really like using their papers). The Schmincke box were a limited set of colours and perhaps they aren’t my usual colours?

  3. Hello Gail. Alexis and I spent another week in Sicily after we departed from Cortona and then stopped to visit sister Sue in New Jersey for a few days.
    Firenze certainly must have been a joy for you. So much inspiration, color, life. It’s good that you had your “me time” workshop. By now you must be churning up ideas/potential not knowing what will come out first. Yet perhaps, you are in the slump you have written to us about? It’s all good, you are living your life.

    The poppies paintings are delightfully different, and I favor the second with the abbreviated value scale. The first makes a complete statement, rather finished in thought. There’s a definite beauty in the stroke of the deep purples, greens; exquisite. The second is dancing on the page leaving more of the story for the viewer to interpret. As the subject is the same, the colors and value range bear that variance. I find it more playful. You pointed that out to me at the Italian Workshop and I have totally embraced the color/close value concept intending to explore it thoroughly. My initial trials have been too pastel. However, I see you selected brighter colors, still tight value-wise, but a few notches up on the color selection.
    It is a pleasure to watch your demos.

    With that in mind, I am in the process of finishing all the works of said workshop. Did I mention we worked mighty hard! The pastels in process number 13, additional sketches with value studies 18, and photos … well thank God we have digital. And you with your phone out the van window at every turn. You should really invest in some sort of a movie type recorder thing mounted on your cap!

    Thank you, Gail.
    Barbara Magner

    1. Barbara thank you so much for your lovely long response!!
      Firenze was the perfect place for me to go after our workshop! I spent a whole day in the Uffizi! Hope you and Alexis had a fabulous time in Sicily. One of these days I’ll get there too.
      Thanks for your in-depth look and response to my two demos. Love that it relates to my Tuscany lessons. Happy you’ve taken the close value range to heart!
      Wow!! Did I really work you that hard?! 😜 Good for you getting back the work and finishing it up.
      I’m on my way to teach a five-day workshop in colour (can’t wait!) so haven’t yet had a chance to get back to my own work. One of these days…

  4. Interessante Demo mit der reduzierten Palette. Mir gefällt beim ersten Bild die Komposition besser, beim zweiten die Farbgestaltung.
    Liebe Grüße
    Jürgen

    1. Danke!
      Google translation: Interesting demo with the reduced range. I like the composition better in the first picture, the color design in the second.
      best regards
      Jürgen

      Jürgen many thanks for your response. I aporecuyour taking time to look and comment! It’s always a good challenge to work with a limited palette 🙃
      Google translation: Jürgen vielen dank für deine antwort. Ich bitte Sie, sich Zeit zu nehmen, um zu schauen und zu kommentieren! Es ist immer eine gute Herausforderung, mit einer begrenzten Palette zu arbeiten

  5. Schminke are hands down my favorite pastels…like butter to work with.

    These two demos are gorgeous, Gail! I don’t know which I like better, and I don’t know that either one needs any more work. They are so fresh and vibrant… but if you do do more, please post them for us to see the finished work!

    1. Thanks so much Leslie for your positive response to my pieces. I will definitely post if I work on them.
      And mmmmmmm yes to Schmincke!!!

  6. Hi Gail!
    I was thrilled to see you at their booth! You’re such a positive person to be around! I love the second painting because of the colors and the vase really pops! Just beautiful! I struggle with flowers..hope to see you again!
    Nancy

    1. Nancy it was so fun to meet you!!! And hope to see you again….perhaps when I teach a workshop out your way??!
      Thanks for your input on my flower paintings. For so many years I was soooo not inspired to do flower paintings. Why I ask myself? Why??! I don’t understand this previous reluctance because these days I’m very attracted to paint flowers in vases. Life evolves and so does one’s art.

  7. Recently found your blog site and enjoying demos, commentary, supplies used, and inspiration to help me get back to opening my pastel boxes! Look forward to following your journey because I believe it will help me on mine. Thanks

    1. Sandy that’s sooooo good to hear. Happy you’ve joined this HowToPastel community!
      Do let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see me cover.

  8. I love both paintings. The orange and blue contrast always catches my eye! My beloved husband bought me a box of Schminkes. But the problem I find is that they are so buttery and soft, that a small swipe leaves a lot of pigment. Sometimes, I put down a color and decide to lighten it, darken it, or change its hue a bit. I find I can’t do that over the Schminkes. I try to keep them for last touches, but sometimes the color I want for the first swipes are in the Schminke box. And I feel afraid to use it in case I later want to change it according to the surrounding colors and make mud! Perhaps it’s the paper? I use Mi-Teintes Touch because I can acquire it easily online from the UK, and I LOVE sanded paper.

    1. Thank you Maria!!
      As to the Schminckes, as you’ve seen in my two IAPS demo paintings, it IS possible to use them all the way through. Using a sanded paper is an absolute must as is using a very light touch especially in the beginning stages of a painting. Maybe try practicing building layers on a swatch of paper.
      You can see me working with the same box of Schmincke pastels in these two videos on YouTube. Video One is about using a limited palette, and Video Two uses only 8 pastels.
      And yay, good for your husband!

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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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