My ’53 Chevy

My recent painting commission was to paint the scene of an autumn wedding which took place in a barn in the hills of Northern California. I was given a few candid photos of the event, but decided to begin the pastel on location. The hills were still green from recent rains, despite my need to be accurate with the dry grass of October.

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Plein Air Start

My clients wished to have certain items included in the painting: the two barns, a red horse trailer, and a blue ’53 Chevy truck which was used by as the couple in place of a limousine.  Reference photos showed the truck on the right of the large barn at the event. I needed to consider the composition of these elements.  It seemed that the red horse trailer and the blue truck would appear as bookends to the two barns if placed this way.  Instead I changed the arrangement, so that the truck was placed on the left, and the driveway would act as a lead in to the barn which was the focal point.

This solution lead me to another issue which was how to accurately depict the Chevy truck without one for visual information.  Fortunately, I was able to purchase one on eBay that was 1/64 scale or the size of a Matchbox car. It was quite useful for drawing the

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truck as accurately as necessary given the changes made.

Here is the completed painting which I titled “Before the Wedding”.

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“Before the Wedding”, pastel, 12 x 18

Painting in pastels can bring back childhood memories of the sight of a new box of Crayolas or even playing in a pedal car or truck! Also, I hope that the newlyweds find that the painting brings back fond memories of their special day.

Technical Notes:  UArt #400 mounted board.  Pastels by Unison, Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, Rembrandt, and Girault. Conte and Stabilo pastel pencils. Some underpainting with alcohol wash. Color  in this image may differ from actual painting.

Spring Forward/Fall Back

It’s the first day of spring, yet I am falling back to a painting of autumn. There is a natural lag of time between the inspiration from a season to the completion of a painting. Perhaps I am like the fashion industry which seems to have the timing of the seasons out of synch with the actual outdoor temperature.  Either I am ahead of my time or behind the time. I’ll let you decide.

I was inspired by the warm colors or red, rusts, amber, and golden leaves of the vineyard north of the Wood Family Vineyard  near our home in Livermore, California one early December. It was a bold painting for me, but it was time to ramp up my color palette.  When I felt confused by interpreting the similar values of foliage with, I used a technique to isolate the area where I was working. It was helpful to block out the surrounding color, and concentrate on a particular area of the foliage on the vineyard.

Below:  See close-up of technique of isolating an area of the photo to get the values of the foliage of the vineyard.

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Technical Notes:  UArt 400 sanded pastel paper mounted on Canson board.  Unison, Rembrandt, Sennelier, Terry Ludwig, and Girault pastels.

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This painting is being exhibited at Wente Vineyards Estate Tasting Room in Livermore, California along with 16 other paintings through March.

 

 

Japanese Iris Garden

Iris Garden Entry, pastel, 11 x 16

 

The Japanese Iris at the entryway of the Cape Cod Art Association caught my eye on a June afternoon for plein air painting. I loved the deep blues and purples against the many greens. The garden scene was fairly complex with bouganvillea, lilac, and azalea combined with the light and shadow patterns of the weathered shingled wall. There were areas of bright sunlight and deep shadow by the entrance. I am focusing on painting stronger light and shadow and this was a good opportunity for this. I omitted the sculptures on the right and cropped the trellis at the top for emphasis and composition.

Painting notes: Uart #400 Pastel Paper; Pastels – NuPastels, Rembrandt, Terry Ludwig, Unison, and Conte and Carbotello Pastel Pencils. Underpainting of 91% Isopropyl Alcohol.  (See underpainting below:)

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Photo of Iris Garden Entry

On the Coast

Sea Thrift

“Sea Thrift”, pastel, 8,5×11

I spent a week on the Oregon Coast at Depoe Bay watching the surf, eating seafood, and exploring the area with the Beach family. I began this pastel on the coast, but I finished this at home since I didn’t have many of sticks that I needed for the rocks. The motion of the surf on the cliff below was a constant source of entertainment. I also was attracted to the profusion  of Sea Thrift which was in bloom.  There were many other pastels used in this piece, but I have shown some of the assorted pastels and pastel pencils used.  To get the fine mist of the sea spray, I used a paste of pastel mixed with alcohol and applied it by flicking the bristles of the toothbrush.  The sanded paper was Wallis, 9×12 with a assortment of  pastels by Terry Ludwig, Unison , Rembrandt, Sennelier, and pastel pencils by Conte and Stabil0.

Pastels Sea Thrift

Pastels for Sea Thrift

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Afterglow

Afterglow Lake Tahoe Afterglow, Lake Tahoe, pastel, 12×18
 

Last month I posted about my planning for a sunset painting of Lake Tahoe which I have titled, “Afterglow, Lake Tahoe”. As I look at the image on my computer, I think the subtle colors don’t always translate from what I see in the actual painting. The challenge for me was depicting the lake with its gentle waves as they approached the shore. Also, the nuances of color needed to interpret the scene were another issue.

With a critical eye, I think that the painting interprets the feeling and glow that attracted me to the scene. I do think that there might be more visual interest in the foreground. My resident art critic husband always questions the lack of wildlife in my work. But, I often think that the meditative or Zen quality doesn’t require this addition. If I had to critique the composition, I might have preferred to paint in a more elongated landscape ratio, rather than the standard 12×18 that I used.

Lake Tahoe Test

Lake Tahoe Test

Test Strip and Reference Photo for” Lake Tahoe Afterglow”

To plan my color palette for a new pastel painting,  I began testing colors of various pastel sticks on a strip of  Uart 400 sanded pastel paper. It seemed like a natural approach to interpret a narrow strip from the reference photo. Later, I realized that testing the exposure in a narrow strip was a method that I used in black and white darkroom photography many years ago. It also seemed to translate into planning a pastel painting.

The reference photo was captured on the north shore of Lake Tahoe one October evening just after the sun had slipped  behind the mountains. My challenge in this painting will be to capture the afterglow in the sky and the reflected color on the lake.  I plan to emphasize the landscape format using  non standard dimensions.  I will post more on the painting when it is complete.

 Technical Notes: Pastel brands – NuPastel, Rembrandt, Sennelier, Schminke, Terri Ludwig. Uart 400 Pastel Paper.

 

Harvest Moon Vineyard

Reference Photo Harvest Moon Vineyard

Reference Photo Harvest Moon Vineyard


It was this reference photo of a beautiful moon rising over a vineyard near my home in Livermore, California that inspired my painting. The soft pastel color of the sky contrasted with the strength of the vertical tree and vines.
Mid Stage Harvest Moon Vineyard

Mid Stage Harvest Moon Vineyard


I adjusted some of the color of the vines for visual interest. Also some of the color in the sky and outline of the distant hills were tweaked due to composition and value. This painting is included in a group pastel show at the Orinda Public Library.

“Harvest Moon Vineyard”, pastel, 12×18


Technical Notes: Wallis Sanded Paper (Belgian Mist), Various pastel brands, NuPastel, Rembrandt, Unison, Sennelier, Terry Ludwig, and Conte Pastel Pencils.

Corn Hill Beach

“Corn Hill Beach”,11×14, plein air pastel


The days of summer on the Cape are just memories now, but I finally have a moment to post some of my paintings done on locations where artist, Edward Hopper painted in the 1930’s. He spent half of his summers in a home studio in Truro, MA on the outer Cape. He painted Corn Hill which is a long, narrow sand beach which borders grass covered sand dunes that is north of Pamet Harbor. Corn Hill is named for the location where the Pilgrims found a cache of Indian corn which sustained them through the first winter.
On location at Corn Hill Beach

On location at Corn Hill Beach


Often the experience of plein air painting is more than the created image. When I look at this piece it brings back the warmth of the summer day at the beach, the sounds of music from the group of beachgoers, and the scent of sunscreen covered bodies. These are sweet memories to sustain me until the next summer season.
Painting notes: Ampersand pastel board (11×14) with a variety of pastels from NuPastels, Conte Pastel pencils, Rembrandt, Unison, and Terri Ludwig brand pastels.

Last Caper

“Last Caper”, pastel, 18×12

My pastel, “Last Caper” has be accepted for the “For Pastels Only 2015” exhibit of the Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod. The show will be at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod in South Yarmouth, MA from June 17 to July 12. I was drawn to the lone sailboat marooned at low tide on the bayside of Cape Cod. The reflections of the mast were reflected in the shallow tidepools. To me the image coveys the quiet and peaceful places that are found on the Cape. I am thrilled that this is included in this prestigious pastel show. Artist, Marla Baggetta was the Juror of Seclection. Technical notes: I did an underpainting of watercolor on Uart #400 sanded paper that was mounted on archival board. Various brands of pastels used included NuPastel, Rembrandt, Girault, Unison, and Terry Ludwig. Fine details were added with pastel pencils.