First Encounter

First Encounter Beach

“First Encounter”, by Linda Beach, pastel, 12×18

During our time of social distancing and stay at home order I painted “First Encounter”. It was based on a reference photo of First Encounter Beach on Cape Cod. The light from the clouds created streaks of light across the exposed beach at low tide. The beach is believed to be the area of the first encounter of the Pilgrims and the Wompanoag Indians of Southeastern Massachusetts.

I began the painting by establishing the lines of perspective and blocking in the sky above the horizon line from the lightest values of blue.

Early stage of painting

Initial stage of painting

Painting notes:
I used a variety of pastel brands including Great American, Unison, Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, Rembrandt, and NuPastels as shown in the photo. The surface was UArt #400 sanded pastel paper.

selected pastels

Pastel palette

 

Afternoon Barn

Barn at May School Road

“Afternoon Light in the Barn”, pastel, 11×14

This bucolic scene is located just six miles from my home. The barn in the distance with a fence line and tufts of grass caught my painter’s eye. I liked the image of the barn which seems to be from another era. Here is my initial sketch done in vine charcoal on Pastel Premier sanded board. This surface was new to me, and I would definitely paint on it again.

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Initial sketch in vine charcoal

It was too windy to use my umbrella which attaches to my French easel. I began the pastel painting on location, and later completed it in the studio.

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Painting on location

Wild Thing

“Wild Thing, you make my heart sing.”

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“Helene’s Cottage Garden”, pastel, 11×14

I am attracted to the softness and vibrancy of a cottage garden where the flowers seem to compete for attention. Each flower jostles to be seen and noticed. Again this summer I had the pleasure of being a plein air artist on the Orleans Garden Tour on Cape Cod. Rather than painting one of the well – tended and more formal garden beds, I chose to paint the cottage garden of homeowner Helene.

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Easel in garden with pastels

Like the garden that I was painting, I discarded some of the traditional approaches of establishing a value pattern of the scene. Rather I responded to the freshness of the scene and focused my painting on the softness and mood of the wildflower garden.

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There is an urgency with painting on site during a one day garden tour ends with the piece being framed, and exhibited at the sponsoring art gallery. Why do I do this? It seems to force me to work quickly. It also brings together lovers of gardens and art in a unique setting. And at the end of the day, my pastel, “Helen’s Cottage Garden” went to a new home to be enjoyed in all seasons when the summer garden was just a memory.

Art and Discovery

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Student Work of Sunset & Reflections

“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” Mark Van Dorn

I have eleven students in my watercolor class this session. The class is an introduction to basic techniques of watercolor. Students work on guided projects to develop their skill with the media. Early practice includes value studies and the relationship of water and pigment to produce a range of lightness and darkness in a particular hue. Other techniques of masking and lifting color in the roof of the barn.

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Student Work of Wet Into Wet Using Value

Another project emphasizes using a flat color wash, perspective, and color mixing of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna.

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Student Work Using Color Mixing & Perspective

Another project featured Wet Into Wet using varied color mixing for a sunset.  Students also expand their skills with mixing Alizarin Crimson and Phthalo Green to make a dark gray for the shadows.

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Student Painting in Watercolor

I continue to enjoy the challenges of teaching.  I have had a student comment that I have “helpful ideas and tools which helps build confidence and skill.” Teaching also has benefits for me as an artist whether I am working in watercolor, or another medium.  In the words of John Cotton Dana, “Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”

 

 

Dreams of A Traveling Palette Come True

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Artist Group in Italy with
Teresa Saia

An artist’s dream of traveling and painting in Italy can come true. The first step to making this a reality is to choose an artist whose paintings you admire and with whom you would like to travel and paint. There are many postings in artist journals, but my idea came when I received a postcard from Teresa Saia and the Traveling Palette. I had taken a few watercolor and pastel workshops with Teresa in the past. Perfect. Let’s go!

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Welcome Dinner in Italy with Teresa Saia

A Welcome dinner was a perfect way for the group to get acquainted before traveling and painting together for 14 days. Enjoying each other’s company over a meal and a glass of wine was as essential as artist’s supplies during the trip.

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Teresa’s Traveling Palette

Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate, so artists enjoyed an afternoon with their traveling palettes.

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Plein Air Start of Watercolor in Tuscany

The small village of Chiusdino in Tuscany (population 1,944) was a beautiful and quiet spot to begin a plein air watercolor.

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Watercolor Mid Process

I was able to paint the sky and begin to capture the hills and buildings in the distance before it was time for the group to catch our bus back to our villa. But, the opportunity to paint on site in this beautiful setting will also bring back wonderful memories.

Although, I completed the painting after the trip, I am grateful for the opportunity to experience painting in Italy first hand with the Traveling Palette. Yes, dreams can come true!

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“Chiusdino View”, watercolor, 10×14

 

” The Earth Laughs in Flowers”

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“The Earth Laughs in Flowers”, oil, 11×14

Mustard flowers carpet the rural landscape in the valleys of California in spring. I loved how these yellow blooms seemed to grow to the rooftop of this barn in Livermore, CA. I knew I had to paint this scene. I decided to paint in oils instead of my usual pastels.

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Start of “The Earth Laughs in Flowers”

Mother Nature seems to scatter the seeds of the mustard flower with ease. But, the process of painting the scene in oils like pastels requires a layering of a variety of color.

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Mid process of “The Earth Laughs in Flowers”

Although Emerson who penned the line “The Earth Laughs in Flowers” may not have seen the golden carpets of the California spring, I think he would be pleased.

Plein Air in a Barn ?

Barn at Hagemann

“Barn at Hagemann Ranch”, pastel, 11×15

I joined a group of plein air painters and the California Art Club who were painting on location at the Hagemann Ranch, which is listed on the National Historic Register in Livermore, CA . It was an overcast day a few weeks ago that turned to rain. Pastels and La Carte paper need to be sheltered from the elements, so I positioned my easel inside one of several barns on the ranch with a view of another barn outside the doorway.

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Photo of Hagemann Ranch Barn, Livermore, CA

The actual scene in the foreground was a vacant parking area, so to improve the composition and to create a lead in I used some artistic license. I created a pathway into the scene surrounded by dry grasses in a warm tone which contrasts with the cooler tones of the barn.

Although, I was painting in the shelter of a barn, since I painted most of this piece on site, I consider this a plein air painting. Do you agree?

Technical notes:
Sennelier La Carte paper, Pastels by Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, Unison, Rembrandt, NuPastels, and Conte pastel pencils.

A Colorful Summer

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Work in Progress on Easel and View of Highland Lighthouse

Summer on Cape Cod is always colorful. From the selections of ice cream, the beach umbrellas, the kayaks on top of the cars going over the bridges, and the towels on the beaches there is color. But, this year Cape Cod Life Magazine wrote, “It’s going to be a colorful summer.” Plein Air Painters would paint, demonstate, and exhibit their interpretations inspired by Edward Hopper in “After Hopper” events hosted by Addison Art Gallery.

Plein air painters were at Highland Lighthouse which is located in Truro in the Cape Cod National Seashore. I was one of the artists who demonstrated my painting techniques in pastel near the lighthouse and the Truro History Museum.

In describing Hopper’s work Dicum of the New York Times wrote, “Isolated buildings in broad vistas are meditations on form and color that steer toward the abstract while remaining figurative.” Keeping this in mind, I set up my easel, so that the lighthouse was viewed at a distance. It was also convenient for transporting my set-up.

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Assorted Pastels

There were many specific questions about materials and types of pastels and paper supports. I welcomed the discussion and enjoyed sharing my passion for pastel.

Technical notes: Assorted pastels – Terri Ludwig, Sennelier, Unison, Rembrandt, and Conte Pastel Pencils on Sennelier La Carte pastel card.

Lace, Lighthouse, & Links

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Easel at Cape Cod Nat’l Seashore Highland Links, Truro, MA

Wildflowers in the windswept meadow in the rough of the links course by the Highland Light in Truro caught my eye. The Highland Links dates to 1892. Several artists were painting Cape Cod’s oldest lighthouse which dates to 1857 for the Light on Truro painting event. I chose to focus my attention on the natural beauty of the Cape Cod National Seashore, rather than the architecture of the lighthouse. A sliver of the blue ocean beyond the trees balanced the blue of wild chickory and Queen Anne’s Lace in the foreground. This scene beside the Highland Historical Museum is a reminder of a bygone era when the building was a turn of the century resort hotel on the Outer Cape.

I had a clear vision of the image that I wanted to capture in my painting. Soon I felt I had enough information to sign and frame the piece for an exhibit that afternoon at the Truro Library by the Addison Art Gallery called “Light On Truro”. The exhibit celebrates the Centennial of the National Parks and “Found Our Park!” which features art inspired by the Cape Cod National Seashore. “Queen Anne’s View” is available through the Addison Art Gallery.

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Queen Anne’s View, pastel, 12×16

Technical Notes: Sennelier LaCarte pastel card with a variety of pastels by Rembrandt, Unison, Terry Ludwig, Girault, Sennelier, and Conte pastel pencil.

Grapes to Wine

"Between the Vines", pastel, 18x24 “Between the Vines”, pastel, 18×24

The exhibit “Grapes to Wine in Art” is on display at the Livermore Library. My pastel, “Between the Vines” is included in the gallery show which is one of the programs related to wine country living. The event pairs art, the book, “A Good Year” by Peter Mayle, movies, lectures, and geocaching that involve the community with all things wine related. It was good to see so many at last night’s artist reception enjoying the variety of art. The show features pastel, watercolor, oil and acrylic paintings, photographs, collage, and painted ceramics.

“Between the Vines” is a studio painting inspired by a spring scene at a local Livermore vineyard. I was drawn to the profusion of wildflowers between the rows at Wood Family Vineyards. The vines shown with perspective awaited pruning and reached to the clouds in the sky.

Painting notes: landscape with one point perspective on Wallis museum paper. I used an underpainting of pastel washed down with water.