Sunny Path, St.-Aulaye

Sunny Path, St-Aulaye, 12" x 16", Pastel Premiere "Italian clay"

Sunny Path, St-Aulaye, 12″ x 16″, Pastel Premiere “Italian clay”

First application of pastel

First application of pastel

Here is Wednesday’s demo of a sunlit path down the road from our B&B in St.-Aulaye, France. It was a lovely morning and the light was quite beautiful.  I didn’t make any significant compositional changes to this picture until near the end, when I added the small tree on the right, which we all liked.

Since this picture is all green, I decided to start it using violets for the shady areas and oranges for the sunlit grasses.  I wasn’t sure how this was going to work but it turned out to be quite nice.  Some of the orange shows through on the right and gives the grasses more interest and depth.

This was an example of shooting into the sun and the sunlight almost wiping out the tree on the left!  The picture doesn’t quite show the sky correctly. I used an aqua on the right and brought some of it into the sky to the left of the trees at right back.  I used several yellows and a light orange in the center and left part of sky with the whitest Ludwig yellow directly behind the tree.

The most challenging part was the trees in center. I used various Unison grayed greens for the lit tops of the bushes and I changed the shape of the tree in the middle (you can see some of original tree shape in the initial layers. The trees at left have a lot of red violet in them, which worked well.

One of my students was having a problem with the shape of the grasses on the right and I added in the tree on a whim.  We were all surprised at how effective this was. It provides a triangle between it, the trees in rear right and the tree on the left.

I found this painting to be much more difficult than the one I did on Monday, perhaps because the shapes and values were so critical. But I had a lot of very useful help from my students!

September Light, Rockville

Reference photo

Reference photo

September Light, Rockville, pastel premiere Italian clay, 12" x 16"

September Light, Rockville, pastel premiere Italian clay, 12″ x 16″

I began teaching this week and have done two demonstrations that I will share with you in different posts.  Both were examples of “direct application of pastel on a toned surface” (as opposed to doing a wet underpainting).  Both were done on Pastel Premiere “Italian clay”, like the painting I did in August of the sunlit field.

I am including the photographic reference so you can see the difference in the house!  I really didn’t like the house in the picture (too much like Rockville), so I substituted a simple house (more like New England).  My other change was at the bottom. Instead of a driveway, I made it lawn, and then brought the bush down to the bottom of the picture. I liked this composition much better.

I began by blocking out the darks using a Ludwig “eggplant” and the first thing I noticed was how much of it was falling off the paper!  This paper really doesn’t accept pastel very well, unless its really soft.  So I got into the soft pastels fairly soon and I think you can see that in the types of strokes.

Our focus this fall is on light and this picture is about the dramatic affect of the light coming from behind the house and to it’s right and streaming across the bush in foreground.  My first I used yellow greens and oranges to paint the trees nearest the sunlit sky.  My first thought was to use deep reds for the darks (because of the bush), but because I wasn’t doing a wet underpainting, I chose violet–always safer!  And for the house I used a mixture of violets and cool greens.

I tried to keep this painting loose and painterly, but I am not very happy with the flowered bush, which was one of the things I really liked in the photo. I think it is over done, and I’m tempted to brush it off and start over again!  What do you think?

Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railway

Hard pastel underpainting

Hard pastel underpainting

Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railway, 16" x 20", UART 400

Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railway, 16″ x 20″, UART 400

This is a painting from last summer’s trip to Maine. It’s one I’ve been wanting to do for some time. It’s a still life, as it’s about the rail cars with light and shadow on them.  I knew that I wanted to do an underpainting with warm under cool, etc., but I spent a lot of time on the drawing.  So I went to the local art store and bought much smaller brushes than I normally use to do the rail cars at the left.  This worked pretty well and I didn’t lose the drawing.

Colorwise, the painting was a challenge because of the large amount of red on the right.  Also the middle car with the lettering was not the same blue green as the first two cars, but actually a darker, truer green.  But I couldn’t find a color that worked (and I DO have a lot of pastels!) There are little bits of red in the left part of the train, a smoke tower and rust spots, but it’s still a lot of red on the right.  I did like the fact that there was a piece of pink in light and shadow, which also helps with the red, but I’m still not sure it is balanced enough.

I simplified the background, putting in some trees in violet, then some soft green over. And I added some very light yellow to the sky to give a dynamic quality to it.  But the real problem was the lettering!  It was really hard fitting all those letters in! I began by painting in the green in the upper part of the car, then put the letters in, resting my hand on the unpainted lower part. In the photo they are much more compact than this, but this was the best I could do.  Putting in the letters and numbers on the other cars was quite easy, by comparison.

The cars are sitting in a “railway museum” in Belfast, Maine–a field full of old train cars. I think that this is a happy, if nostalgic, picture.  And it was one I really enjoyed painting.