It has been a crazy few months around here with the work, family vacations, kids school starting, etc. I am trying to get back in the swing of things and finding my new balance.
The last few weeks I had been struggling to feel inspired on what to paint and create. In an effort to get inspired I decided to watch some other artists youtube channels. I found that a lot of the artists I was watching were combining pan pastels and Faber Castell Polychromo colored pencils. So I decided to order some from Dick Blick. When they arrived I started experimenting with different layers of pan pastels, the colored pencils, and Pastel Pencils on Uart sanded paper. The results were exhilarating. It sounds strange to be exhilarated about drawing with pencils on sandpaper but for this artist struggling with artist block it was just what I needed. While doing my little sketches my brain started generating tons of future project ideas.
One of those projects was a series of owl drawings. I love owls. They are beautiful birds with such big eyes. I have now finished the first two owls in the series.
Here is a timelapse video that I recorded while I worked on the second owl.
I cant wait to share with you more from this new series I am working on.
Today I am sharing with you a soft pastel demonstration where I give tips and tricks on how to use Mungyo and Stabilo CarbOthello soft pastels to paint a field in the autumn. The reference photo is one on got of Pixabay.
The Mungyo set is a entry level set that I reviewed a few months ago and I finally got a chance to do another painting with them. I still think they are a fantastic entry level set if you are wanting to experiment with pastels before investing in more expensive sets. It’s also a great set for children to use given that they are affordable and non-toxic. Like always use whatever pastels you have on hand. You don’t have to use this specific brand to follow along.
There are a lot of pastel pencils on the market I happened to use the *Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencils which is the brand I have on hand. You don’t have to use pastel pencils to do this painting I just found them useful for doing the smaller details since I was working in a 6×11″ size. If you are only going to be using traditional soft pastels I recommend pressing really lightly for the sketching and underpainting portion.
I also used Uart 400 Grit sanded paper in a 6×11 size but if you are just learning and wanting to figure out how to paint using soft pastels on sanded paper you can use regular sand paper between 260-800 grit.
A few weeks ago I painted this colorful rocky seascape. It was so fun painting it a different way than the seascapes I had painted previously. I felt like the practice I got from painting those pieces really helped me to get more loose and colorful with this painting.
This piece is now available on my etsy shop if your interested in purchasing it. To celebrate spring this piece and all other landscape, seascape, and botanical paintings are 20% off through March 31, 2018.
If you are interested in knowing the materials and tools I used for this painting here are the links to them so you can learn more about them. These are affiliate links but don’t feel pressured to use them. When you do it just helps me out and allows me to spend more time making videos for you.
I enjoyed painting the last beach scene so much that I decided to do one more. This time I got my reference photo from the website called Paint My Photo. It’s a great website to get reference photos for artists. This website allows you to use the photos as references in your commercial work. Unfortunately, The rules on that website restrict me from showing you the actually photo here on my website. So here is a link to where you can get the reference picture. You just need to create a login in for it. The picture is from Pauline West.
I started my painting process buy first picking out the supplies and pastels I need. The pastels I am using are a mix of Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencils, Prisma color nupastels and Jack Richeson Soft Pastels. The harder pastels will be used for the under painting and details. I also made sure to pick a variety of values (lights and darks) in each color family. This will allow me to create contrast and depth in my picture without relying on straight black and white pastels as much. Nothing wrong with white and black pastels but if you only use those for your highlights and shadows your picture can look flat and uninteresting.
I also picked our warm tones and cool tones of each color family. Having warm and cool selection in each color family can aid in color mixing and layering. Every color will either have a warm undertone, be neutral, or have a cool undertone. For example, a warm toned blue would be a Phthalo blue because It has some green undertones. In contrast a cool blue would be a ultramarine because it tends to be closer to purple on the color wheel. I’m working on a tutorial to explain and demonstrate this more clearly. For now I’ve posted a picture below to help demonstrate what I mean on the actual colors I’m using.
The rest of this supplies I’ll be using are 600 Grit Uart sanded pastel paper cut down to a 6×11” size, Krylon workable fixative, Generic rubbing alcohol, an old stiff bristled paint brush for blending out the under painting, a size 1 round white taklon brush for applying the ink (any old acrylic brush with a fine point will work), purple and black waterproof ink I’m using Dr Ph Maritns Bombay India ink, plastic pallet knives, and rubber shapers. You can use a traditional blending stump if you don’t have rubber shapers.
This painting took me about three hours to complete from start to finish. The video is significantly sped up so feel free to slow the video down and/or pause it as you work through the various steps. I also find it beneficial to watch the video all the way through before starting your project. That way you are more comfortable with the process and know what to do next.
Here is the complete list of supplies and tools I used and links so you can look into them in more detail:
A few months ago I was asked to do a commission of a home set in the wintertime but not set during the holiday season.
This offered a challenge because I couldn’t rely on holiday lights and decorations to keep a winter scene from looking tired and dull. I wanted this picture to convey the magic of winter while showing off the home. I didn’t know the best way to portray that. I brainstormed and sketched the house during different times of day, with various amounts of snow, etc. I ended up liking several of the ideas but I didn’t love any of them. Then one evening I had to go to the post office. I walked outside right as the colors of the sunset were being reflected in the snow. Oranges, pinks, purples, and blues filled my eyes from heaven to earth and I instantly knew how I wanted to paint the scene. A little over 30 hours later the painting was completed.
My client and I were thrilled with how the colors perfectly showed off the beauty of this hillside home.
I have some big pastel commissions coming up so to help switch my mind from watercolor to soft pastels I have been doing some smaller pastel paintings. I figured it would turn this little painting into a tutorial for those who interested in learning how to paint and draw with pastels.
With it being in middle of winter here in Montana I wanted to paint something warm and sunny. I found my reference photo on pixabay.
Before I start any pastel painting I look at my reference photo and I pick out the pastels I am going to use to paint it. This just helps me stay in the zone when painting because Im not constantly stopping to sort through hundreds of pastels deciding which ones I want.
When picking out pastels I make sure to grab some harder pastels like the pastel pencils and Nupastels from Prismacolor along with the softer ones. The harder pastels are great for the base layers of the painting because they don’t fill in the tooth of the paper as easily. With this painting being fairly simple and smaller in size I knew I wasn’t going to be doing as many layers as normal so I didn’t grab any of my super soft pastels like my Sennelier or Schmincke . The softest pastels I used for this were Jack Richeson pastels which I find to be about medium softness.
Another thing I do when gathering my pastels is to grab several values of each color. Pastels aren’t like watercolor where you can just add water to it to make it lighter or more paint to make it darker. You need to make sure you have a variety of values in each color. These are the colors I picked for my pastel painting and when I was painting I ended up needed more darker tones. I will show you in the video how I worked around that but if you decide to do this painting I would pick some darker cool blues, greens, and violets.
After selecting my pastels I gathered the rest of my supplies.
For this piece I used 6×11 inch UArt sanded paper in 600 grit. I really love Uart paper because it can take a lot of layers really well. It is also easy to tone the paper yourself using watercolor or with pastels and rubbing alcohol (which is my preferred method).
Some other tools I used with my painting include some old paint brushes and rubbing alcohol for the underpainting. The Ink is for blocking in the darks of the painting. I like to use rubber shapers and plastic pallet knives for blending the pastels. For this piece I only used the rubber shaper with the rounded tip which i found really helpful in shaping the clouds. Not pictured is a T Ruler that I used to draw my horizon line with.
Here is the complete list of supplies and tools I used and links so you can look into them in more detail:
I had the fun opportunity to work on a commission that featured a house from my hometown. I grew up only a few miles away and saw this house almost everyday. I went to school with their kids from elementary on up to college. My mom taught them piano lessons and I went to girls camp with their daughters. So when their kids asked me to do a commission of their parent’s home I was ecstatic.
There is something endearing and personal about painting a picture of a home that you know so well for a family that you love and respect.
I know exactly where the home I grew up in is in relation to this house and the mountains featured in the background. As a result I began feeling home sick while painting this picture. I think part of it is that was from knowing I wouldn’t be coming home for Christmas this year for only the second time in my life.
The other reason I started feeling home sick was that painting this made me really reflective of my childhood, the people I grew up with, life long friends I made, and the adventures I went on hiking the mountains in the background. Even though I didn’t always appreciate it as a kid I was blessed to grow up in town I did.
The reference photos that were sent me for this commission were beautiful photos from the previous Christmas. The photos showed off the beautiful pink glow the mountains get as the sunset is reflected on them with the cozy house situated just beneath.
They wanted the house to look and feel like it was Christmas Eve. To me this meant the house needed to glow with feelings of warmth, joy, and love. So much so that it would make you wish you could jump right in and be part of the celebration.
A few weeks ago I was able to complete an autumn themed house painting. This painting was really fun to work on because autumn allows me to use more colors than I traditionally get to use in landscapes. I love it when I can pull out my full Chroma red, orange, yellow, greens, teal, and violet pastels and use them quite liberally.
While painting a home seems pretty straightforward they can actually have their own unique set of challenges. For example, a reference photos might be set in the wrong season and I have to figure out how the yard and house would change with it being winter instead of summer. This commission in particular had several challenges. My reference photos were from the summer and the painting was supposed to set in the fall. I also needed to age the landscaping up. The home I was asked to paint is only a year old without any mature trees in the yard. So I had to research the types of trees they planted in the yard so I could paint them to resemble how they will look in the future. I also had to adjust where some of the landscaping was in the yard including the fence so it didn’t block too much of the house. I also removed the shop behind the house and the neighbor’s home on the right. The extra buildings were distracting and removed the focus from the house.
Like I always do with commissions or complex pieces I used a quick sketch to work through any potential problems. Doing the sketch I was able to figure out the sizing for the house, proportioning of the trees, how I want the branches to grow, sky to look, and shadows with the sun setting on the left side of the house.
Thankfully, the final piece ended up being over 4 times the size of the sketch and was more able to accommodate detail. The texture and detail of the house was more important on this home than on my previous home paintings. Because this house has rock, brick, and stucco it was really important to differentiate the difference surfaces so that the house didn’t look flat. When a home is all siding its really easy to imply the surface with just a few horizontal lines.
Lately, I have been into adding unusual colors in in areas of the painting toward the end of the painting process. With this autumn scene I really loved the effect that teal, bright purples, and royal blues had in the shadows. I particularly loved what it did to the shadow side of the tree trunks. It kept them visually interesting without being distracting.
I was really excited to with how this painting turned out and was excited to give it to its new owner in person. Seeing her face light up when looking at is the reason why I paint.
I wish I had had a chance to get a better picture of it before I delivered it but my tight schedule didn’t allow for me to wait for natural lighting (an increasingly scarce resource with winter setting in). The colors in this picture are even more stunning in person.