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.
As a kid I went to my Grandparents home almost everyday. I even went on vacation with them. Words can’t describe the love and appreciation I have for them. Their influence helped me to become the person I am today.
I was my Grandmas shadow, following her wherever she went and “helping” with whatever she was doing. This included volunteering at the local nursing home. I watched as she cut and styled the hair of the residents, painted their nails, and danced with them when the local band would come play. I learned how to cook, garden, bottle peaches, sew, repurpose furniture, and how to make house work more fun by playing dancing music as loudly as possible. To this day I get the sudden urge to “dance clean” when any Bee Gees song comes on the radio. My creativity and fearless nature in learning new skill was cultivated by my grandma who demonstrates it daily.
My Grandpa worked in the car industry for many years but when I was seven he decided to change career paths and start a cabinet company next door with his sons. This career change allowed me to spend even more time with my grandpa. I remember going over and “helping” him build the cabinet shop. This included me picking up nails, stacking scrap wood, painting the siding, and sweeping up the sawdust. When the next door neighbors needed help redoing the irrigation system for their alfalfa fields my grandpa handed my brother and I a shovel so we could go help him dig the trenches for the pipes. He taught me how to shingle a roof when he was hired to do an addition to a neighbors home. As hard as he had us work he always tried to teach the concepts of working hard, finding satisfaction in a job well done, and playing hard when the work is done. He would often let us pick out a drink and cookies from the gas station on our way to the dump. Or when we finished a big project he would teach us how to ride their three wheelers.
The holidays are always a magical time but it was especially magical at their home. The Carpenters, Johnny Mathis, and Nat King Cole Christmas albums would be blaring out of their living room speakers while my grandpa set up the tree and my grandma decorated the house. The house would be filled with the smell of treats cooking for neighbors and upcoming family dinners.
Christmas Eve was the peak of excitement. Every year we would drive down the street to their house just as the sun was about to vanish behind the mountains. The Christmas tree could be seen sparkling from their big living room window. All the lights would be reflected on the snow. That warm glow meant I was about to spend the evening eating homemade rolls, a delicious dinner, playing with cousins, and opening the Christmas pajamas made for all the grandchildren. After the celebrations we would find make our way out to the chilly car, ready for a night of sleepy anticipation for Santa’s arrival.
Last year when my aunt called me about doing a Christmas themed painting of their home as a family gift. I excitedly agreed. I have never known more clearly what I wanted a painting to look and feel like more in my life. I wanted it to convey the warm, colorful, joyful feelings of Christmas Eve that I experienced arriving at their home as a child.
I started the process by doing a practice drawing of their home. This was important because I had never drawn or painted a house before and was still pretty new to using soft pastels at the time. The study allowed me to work through which colors I wanted to use, how to do light reflecting onto the snow, and the order to apply the pastels to achieve the look I wanted.
I ended up finishing the painting on Christmas Eve. When it was finished I was giddy with excitement because the painting had turned out exactly how I wanted it to. Looking at the painting sparked those feelings of the joy, excitement, and love I felt in their home as a kid.
I felt that same joy and excitement when I watched them open it on Christmas day.
When I first started using soft pastels I started with a small ten dollar store brand set. They felt and responded more like colored chalk than actual soft pastels. All the colors were anemic and the only dark color was black. I found them difficult to work with and couldn’t get the look I was trying to achieve.
Years later when I started painting with watercolor regularly I learned the difference between child grade, student grade, and professional art supplies. This knowledge changed my entire art experience. I was no longer frustrated with how weak my watercolors were in saturation. I remember my first time painting with a set of good quality watercolor paints and feeling so relaxed as I painted. I didn’t feel like I had to fight my paints anymore. Creating the pictures that were in my mind started to happen more easily.
A few months after this experience with watercolors I became inspired with some beautiful soft pastel paintings I had seen demonstrated on the show “Color in your life.” Seeing these artist work inspired me to pull out that ten dollar set again experiment with the pastels.
I learned that soft pastel artists often work on sanded surfaces so I went to the garage and pulled out some sandpaper to experiment with how the pastels responded to a different surface.
Being older and having a better understanding of art I could more objectively analyze what I liked and disliked verses being a kid and just throwing my paper way after getting frustrated. I liked how the pastels layered, it was a fast medium to work in (like watercolor), and how you could achieve easily achieve an impressionistic effect. I liked how the sanded paper held the pigment and allowed for many layers compared to my cold press watercolor I had been experimenting on. I didn’t like how my set was so chalky and didn’t have much pigment to it. As a result of this experimentation I decided to see what decent quality pastels I could find for a reasonable price. I ended up finding this koh-I- Noor pastel set and a Sennelier (yay!) 60 half stick set on amazon for really good deals. So I ordered them along with some Uart sanded pastel paper.
Getting those pastels was one of the best decisions I’ve made in regards to art. I experimented, played, and learned as much about pastels as I could find online. I watched hours of free YouTube tutorials and tried different techniques. I learned that I absolutely love this medium. It filled in the gaps that watercolor couldn’t quite fill. I learned I especially love painting pastel landscapes. Which was perfect because I typically dislike painting landscapes in watercolor. I also liked how easy it was to fix mistakes.
Since getting those two sets of pastels my pastel collection has grown by quite a lot. I have since tried pan pastels, mount vision pastels, Richardson’s, nupastels, Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencils, Schmincke, and my current favorite terry Ludwig pastels. Each brand and type of pastel has its own characteristics that I am learning how to utilize. I hope to do reviews on these pastels types of the next few months.
Have you ever worked in soft pastels? If so, do you have a favorite brand? Leave a comment down below letting me know.
The other night my kids were all asleep by 8 PM (Hallelujah!) and my husband was gone working a 24 hour shift at the hospital. It had been a rough day; the morning was spent fixing things that hadn’t gone to plan. Kids fought, my three year old decide he didn’t want to poop in the toilet anymore, naps/quiet time didn’t happen (not for lack of trying on my part), and the list goes on and on. My anxiety and stress levels were high and all I wanted to do was binge watch TV shows on the couch while carb loading on cake. As I was about to turn on the TV I asked myself if that would really help me feel better. The answer was no. TV doesn’t help me de-stress and sugar certainty doesn’t. In fact, they usually make me feel worse because I feel regretful about the wasted time and sick from the sugar hangover the next day. Thus, causing me to feel worse and more likely to repeat it again the next day.
So with my answer I got up and made my way to my studio, A place that I had barely been in the past few weeks. Between going to visiting family, family visiting us, potty training previously mentioned 3 year old, and then getting a kidney infection there hasn’t been much time left to paint. This lack of studio time is a big reason why I could the stress and anxiety building up inside me. Painting is my job but more importantly it is what brings balance to my life. When I feel like my personal identity is threatened to be washed away by the demands of my husband’s schooling, motherhood, owning a business, and just regular adult stuff I retreat to my little studio. I shut the door and spent time with beautiful colors. On this particular night I turned on some dancing music, picked out a reference photo, and started. The picture I picked was a sunset picture from our summer trip to Seattle. I wanted to get right to work so I just used the pastels that were already sitting out.
My Goal that night wasn’t to create my best piece of work but to break the cycle of putting off painting until I had time or felt inspired. It was to feel the stress leave through my fingertips with each stroke of the pastel. It was to change my perspective of the day. Instead of feeling bad that the first part of the day went so poorly I could be happy that my kids went to bed easily and early thus, leaving me with the entire night to paint. Instead of feeling bad that I hadn’t seen my husband awake for more than an hour the day before and wouldn’t be seeing him for another fifteen hours I could be glad that he has a job he loves. Painting gives me time to process and gain perspective on my life.
I came upstairs a few hours later feeling rejuvenated. The responsibilities that are still on my shoulders felt lighter and more like an adventure pack taking me on new adventures instead of a punishment.
Ps. This painting was actually really difficult to do with it such having such strong contrasting in colors. I will have to try it again on a large piece of paper and I use what I learned from this sketch.
For months the urge to just take my art supplies and go paint nature for several days was really strong. When we would go hiking or biking I would constantly wish that I had my art supplies with me so I could paint what my eyes were seeing, the colors and textures that a photograph cannot capture. However, most of time that wasn’t a possibility because I was either hiking with a kid strapped to my back while keeping my “free range” kids from wandering off or I was there to get an adrenaline rush (mountain biking or snowboarding) and painting wasn’t in the agenda. I would paint things around my home and city when I had the chance but I wanted more (cue The Little Mermaid music). I wanted to escape the grown up responsibilities of life for a few days and paint nature.
In March the stars aligned and I was able to take my first official Plein Air painting trip while my husband stayed home to pack up our home. Being that Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, and most of northern Utah were still snowed in I traveled south for this trip. I went to favorite place to hike and explore…Moab, Utah.
I think my first trip to Moab as a kid was when I became awestruck by nature. I was raised by mountains, farmlands, and forests, which made it so I didn’t really appreciate their beauty. I took it for granted that every spring I would see the orchards blossoming and waterfalls created from the melting snow. Moab however was nothing like I had ever seen up to that point. The red and orange rocks caught my imagination and love. After that trip, I opened my eyes and started appreciating the beauty of nature everywhere I went and I continued to go back to Moab as often as possible.
To say I was excited to go paint in Moab would be an understatement. Even though it ended up being rainy and overcast for most of the trip I loved hiking to some of my favorite locations and painting them. When the weather would be too wet to paint I would go to the various galleries there and talk to other artists. When it was time for the trip to be over I left feeling inspired and rejuvenated. I had so many painting ideas that I actually sketched/wrote some of them down so I could work on them once I had a working studio again.
Well a little over four months have passed and I am happy to say that I was finally able to work on one of those ideas. Here pastel painting of Delicate Arch with the evening light shinning though the arch with the snow capped La Sal mountains in the distance. This idea came to me as I sat sketching Delicate Arch while fighting some very flat overcast light and sitting on a very hard rock. I wanted to use strong and unusual colors while keeping it fairly loose with the detail. I absolutely love how this painting turned out.
Have you ever done plein air painting? How did it go? Leave a comment letting me know!