Beach Flowers: Beginner Soft Pastel Tutorial

Beach Flowers
Beach Flowers – Soft Pastels

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.

Color Palette

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.

27331999_10157070487942892_943125753395152771_n

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.

71JNDAMy7SL._SL1500_

26993259_10157054586522892_4700846170059305809_n

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:

Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencil https://goo.gl/qgq9ew

Jack Richeson Soft Pastels https://goo.gl/kPCgvn

NuPastels https://goo.gl/Bf3aBV

Dr Ph Martins Bombay Inks https://goo.gl/sJvcui

Uart Sanded Paper https://goo.gl/2Uf46y

Krylon Workable fixative https://goo.gl/aKKaVn

Rubber shaper https://goo.gl/rhDSEk

Plastic Pallet Knives https://goo.gl/nskzKU

Oil brush https://goo.gl/t2SVof

White Taklon Brush https://goo.gl/oNrgWj

T-Ruler https://goo.gl/GZRy1v

Heat Tool https://goo.gl/vNCg1p

(Affiliate Links)

If you would like to purchase the original painting you can do so here.

If you would like to request specific tutorial or have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below.

-Lauren

Fall Home Painting

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.

24174659_10156850930367892_8078683559546663299_n
Sketch

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.

23658554_10156812640687892_5622268342822829065_n

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.

Finding My Way To Pastels

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.

14291906_10155214120292892_7562593055645475454_n
First attempt at using soft pastels since high school

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.

14263986_10155214120247892_3536154125251784110_n
Still life painted on sandpaper from the garage

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.

IMG_3692
one of my first pastel sketches after getting my Koh-I-Nor and Sennelier sets

 

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.

-Lauren

Scotish river in the fall
First pastel painting using Mount vision pastels

Chasing pink skies

20229204_10156405673142892_2911952127024612836_n

We first came up to the Billings area to look for housing it was the middle of winter. There was two feet of snow on the ground and it was surprisingly warmer than the southern Idaho we left. Billings was a roasting 5 degrees while Idaho was -25 degrees (not counting wind chill). One of the first things I noticed about Billings was the amazing sunsets you could see from the rim rocks. The sky was so massive that I instantly understood why Montana was called “the big sky state.” It was so big that the city seemed to disappear below me, making it feel like alone in the clouds with the golden sunset light shining on me. Seeing that sunset confirmed to me that Montana was the place I needed to go to develop my skills as an artist.

I had been to the western areas of Montana many times as a kid and had always been amazed by its beauty. We would drive through Yellowstone; go to through Bozeman, and then up to glacier national park. However, in all those travels we never went east of Bozeman. Having never seeing the plains side of the state I didn’t know what to expect. But seeing the farms, mountains in the distance, rolling hills, and snow made me feel right at home. Now it’s the height of summer and Billings still isn’t disappointing. The snow has melted away to reveal beautiful farmland growing things like barley and hay. Powerful thunderstorms roll in almost weekly. The magic that happens when the bright pink sunsets make the fields and rim rocks glow in its light.

pink sky

A few weeks ago we were leaving a friends house only to see the beautiful sunset. Instead of going home to put the kids to bed we decided to chase it.  We spent the hour driving around Billings snapping pictures of the sunset and basking in its glory. It was a fantastic way to spend a warm summer evening. That evening drive inspired me to pull out my pastels and do my first pastel painting of Montana. This will be the first of many paintings of Montana particularly, of the Billings area.

 

pink-sky-over-montana-copy.jpg