Arriving on Tenth, 20x16

"Arriving On Tenth" 20x16" Pastel

Gosh! So much has happened since I last posted, I can't even begin to blog about it all. The happenings and goin's on's seemed to have slammed me all at once with shows, upcoming plein air events, paint outs, and competitions.

First of all, I am thrilled as punch as well as deeply humbled to have received notice that my painting "Arriving on Tenth" was juried into the IAPS 24th Annual show. I now have to get it framed and shipped to Boston before the May 10th opening at Vose Gallery. Now is the time for me to get my calendar all coordinated so not to miss a delivery deadline.

I also will be heading down to Monterey next month for the Plein Air Convention to demonstrate a 1-hour pastel painting. It sounds almost impossible to create a nice work of art under the tight time condition, so I have been preparing for "as quick as can be" piece. Although there is no way possible to finish a piece in front of so many on a stage, quiet resolution and relationship with a piece is not a priority for such a situation. So, I just practice the piece several times to make sure I don't disappoint my audience. I am planning on creating an urban piece like the one above.

Add to that the fun two workshops I have planned and a few exciting plein air events that all add up to a very busy summer. Then, and only then, perhaps I will take a vacation from myself and finally allow myself a bit of rest and rehabilitation with my family.

Here is the line up:

3rd Annual Plein Air Convention
Event Dates: 4/7/2014 - 4/11/2014
Workshop Dates: 5/2/2014 - 5/4/2014

Carmel Juried Plein Air 2014
Event Dates:  5/15/2014 - 5/18/2014,

Event Dates: 6/20/2014 - 6/22/2014

Door County Plein Air Invitational 2014Event Dates: 7/20/2014 - 7/26/2014

Solo Show: The Verdant Valley 
Event Dates: 10/30/2014 - 11/22/2014


What Pastels Do You Use?

Pictured here is a full box of Terry Ludwig Vibrants (front and center), The Most Requested Violets (bottom center)  and a small glimpse of my pastel box at hand (upper left)

Often while I am out painting with my pastels, or while teaching a pastel workshop I am asked the question of what brand I prefer.  I have tried perhaps a dozen brands and have honed into my favorites, although with the popularity of this medium there are bound to be many more brands being created over time. I think brand selection, hardness to softness has a lot to do with one's personal style of working and mark-making. For me, I prefer the softer pastels for my technique because I have grown accustomed to their characteristics. Perhaps I am missing the boat on this one, but others like using the harder pastels for the preliminary stage of underpainting, blocking in, or setting values. For me, I just use a dispersed pigment of Createx, or perhaps I will use a quick, thin block-in of pastel and wash it down with OMS or Turpenoid

It only goes without saying that experience and experimentation are key to one's own personal style. Over time, I have gravitated to Terry Ludwig Pastels as my all time favorite brand. Let me mention that I am not getting paid to write this up, or getting any sort of kudos for mentioning this brand, as I am only giving my opinion here. The square shape is perfect for the way I work, often because they have a flat side for filling in color. Also these square shaped pastels have sharp, crisp corners that allow for more detailed line work for tree trunks, or other skinny marks. They are versatile as well as soft, but not too buttery, as well as the pigmentation is rich. There are a few other pastels that I prefer over others, but just as long as they are in the "soft" category of all things pastel. That would be the Unison and then the Sennelier brands. When students sign up for my workshops, I provide a supply list and offer up some pastel brands that will give the student a great start on working in pastel. It's when a student decides on getting a "student grade" of pastel, then they become frustrated with it's limitations. Trust me when I say that higher quality pastels will be more money, but you will get farther faster with them too. So give yourself permission and get the quality you deserve.

So before you sign off, I have to shout out a bit of shameless self-promotion here. If you have always wanted to get yourself off to a great start with pastels, or wish to gain more in-depth knowledge of the medium along with practical techniques and exercises, I have put together two pastel workshops in March and in May that are now on the calendar HERE. Hope you can come join me.

All for now,


Nautilus Know-how, 6x6

"Nautilus Know-how" 6x6" Oil

I'm continuing my fetish with the 6x6" canvases as I seem to sell them almost a quickly as I paint them, which isn't such a bad deal. This one by far is my favorite because of the complexity of colors, although all of the 6x6"s continue to hold close to my heart. This time around I payed more attention to lost and found edges of the shell. Softening edges has always been a challenge while at the easel, but when it's done right it really adds so much more interest for the viewer. Setting the shell up upon a table, it was well below eye level, so I searched around the studio to find something available that could be used for the prop. A couple of books laying around would solve the height issue and these two had just the right hints of the same colors in the shell making them an instant "plus" for this piece. Hope you enjoy.   


Workshop in May set!

It's not often that I teach a workshop because of my crazy and whacky schedule, but when I do I hope to offer a jam-packed, info-infused workshop experience. Listed on my website are two upcoming pastel workshops for the Spring season geared for the beginner to intermediate pastelist.  Pastel Punch! and Pastels Inside & Out offer about the same type of information, but the Inside & Out workshop offers a day of painting outdoors as well as everything possible about pastels, including a bit on properly framing this dusty medium. I love sharing what I know and what I have learned over the years as an artist...it's when we give our society that spirit of artistic resonance and continuity.  So if you have the desire, come sign up for one of these info packed sessions as I offer only a couple each year.  Oh, and I almost forgot! You can learn a lot about pastel painting at the Plein Air Convention and Expo in Monterey, CA this April.  There will be several sessions presented by world class pastelists such as Clark Mitchell, Jan Mcgraw-Teubner, Richard McKinley, Urania Christy Tarbet, and Lorenzo Chavez to name a few and as well, I have been asked to demonstrate a 1 hour pastel session on the Demo Stage (April 8th)
"Asilomar Overlook" 8x10" Pastel

Pastel Punch!  $325.00  March 22-24 in Springfield, OR
Pastels Inside & Out   $300.00   May 2-4th in St Johns, Portland, OR.


Pending Pastel workshop schedule

Coffee Break, 10x8" Pastel  SOLD

Simple step by step on the basics and more with pastel.

Tomorrow I will be announcing the details and registration for a pastel workshop in the merry month of May in Portland, OR. Many of you who visit me on Facebook, here on my blog, or through email have expressed for more workshop opportunities. So, with that, I'll be confirming a date here soon.

While I'm on the subject of teaching pastel, there is still room in my Pastel Punch! Workshop at the Emerald Arts Center in Springfield, OR. in March. For details, click HERE.

Also, if you have plans to attend the Plein Air Convention and Expo in beautiful Monterey, CA., I will again be presenting on the Demo Stage at 12:45-1:45.  As a matter of fact, they will have an entire track on pastels and more pastels from some of the nation's best pastelists to teach, demonstrate and meet at this event. Hope you can come!

Hope you can join me!


Autumn's Wake (process) 30x40"

"Autumn's Wake" 30x40" Oil

So much painting has been going on in my studio, but not much time to post about it all as I'm prepping for two shows in a matter of days. This one piece in particular I felt was worth sharing as I took care to take process pictures along the way. It was inspired by a plein air piece I painted last October on a beautiful day on Sauvie Island, OR. (my favorite place to paint). The geese were everywhere and the colors were soft and dreamy.

Starting out with an underpainting of transparent earth red, I work the values into the underpainting.

I tend to work the farthest distance areas first so that they are
layered behind all the subsequent brushstrokes. The sky takes shape.

Working in the trees and some of the foreground grasses.

I can't wait to work the water in this piece. One of my favorite parts is the 
reflections and relationships water has with the sky and shore.

All done!  This piece will be unveiled at Caswell Gallery in Troutdale on Friday, February 7th.


Opening at Attic Gallery, Feb 5 and 6th

The past month I have painted A LOT for some upcoming shows!  I will be having 2 openings of this month and am thrilled to present my newest gallery, Attic Gallery, to my growing list of venues. Here is the flyer for the Attic Gallery on Feb 5 and 6th.

I am so proud to formally unveil twelve of my urban inspired plein air works in oil at Attic Gallery for the month of February. These pieces were all completed on location as I observed the city in it's parts as the urban landscape continues to draw my attention. I will also be including 5 larger studio pieces in pastel to make this show complete.

This Preview or "soft opening" will be held on Wednesday, February 5th. Unfortunately, Portland's First Thursday Gallery Walk coincides with the opening of the Winter Olympics on February 6th. Attic Gallery will continue to hold it's formal opening date on "First Thursday" February 6th.  I will be at both openings from 6:00 to 8:30 pm.

Wednesday Feb 5th
Thursday Feb 6th
6:00-8:30 pm

So come on out to help me celebrate my hard work at the Preview night at Attic Gallery on Wednesday, February 5th, --- OR--- First Thursday February 6th.  Located at 206 SW 1st Ave, Portland, OR. 

Attic Gallery is conveniently located along the MAX line.


Carol's Cup & Alorro Gold, 6x6 & 36x36"

"Carol's Cup" 6x6" Oil (Sold)

Tea cups continue to grab my attention for subject matter for my small 6x6 series because they fit so well in a square format. I hope to have "Carol's Cup" varnished in time for Caswell Gallery's First Friday opening on Feb 7th. They have also asked me to produce a few larger pieces for them and I have worked and worked on this piece (below) and boy did it have it's challenges, but I think I'm finally done with it...

"Alloro Gold" 36x36" Oil

Because I normally work on a smaller scale, the size difference was certainly new and challenging.  Have you ever sized up and things just didn't go so well?  Yeah, I feel your pain! Figuring out brushstrokes, composition, mixing much larger piles of color were all changed up. Furthermore, I went through the painting without sketching out a composition, and that was the biggest challenge of all. Asking upon my fellow artist friends to help me see through the fog, it became apparent that it was composition. From that, I certainly realized my hard lesson to make a few compositional sketches before I put any paint down. Painted predominantly with a palette knife.

Here is a slide show of it's process by "FlipoGram", an app I found that makes a fun slide show. It was easy to use and fun to see how the painting evolved. Have a peek HERE.


"Nearly Home" 12x16" and Pastel Workshop news

"Nearly Home" 12x16" Pastel

This past weekend I headed out to Eugene, OR to do a demonstration at the Emerald Arts Center in pastels. In an effort to encourage artists to attend my upcoming workshop in March, I chose a colorful palette of purples and blues.  I'm not sure just why I gravitate to certain colors, but the cooler hues of purple and blue seem to be in nearly all of my pieces. Why is it that one will choose to pick a certain color scheme or rage of hues? I for one, think I tend to pick cooler colors because of one silly observation about my personality: I am highly enthusiastic! Perhaps it's because I have a fiery personality and need to "cool" it down a tad? Heck, I don't know what it is about the cooler colors, but I love how soothing they are.  Calming to my eyes and peaceful.  What colors to you prefer?

What:  Explore pastels with my "Pastel Punch!" workshop
When:  March 21-23rd, 2014
Where:  Emerald Arts Center
500 Main Street, Springfield, OR
Cost:  $325


PFAFF, 6x6

"PFAFF" 6x6" Oil

After a long two weeks with family and festivities, I finally got back to painting for an entire day. Having stored up a lot of creative energy, I got super focused and dove into the "illustrative" mode. Much like meditation, I figure it a great way to solve all the worlds problems when I go deep into painting. What do you think of when you create? There is no real answer for me, but perhaps it's just solving what's before me;  shapes, color, value, depth, space, and perhaps the all the  emotional stuff going on in one's head too. As for this one above, it was an escape back to painting I so enjoyed.  The little PFAFF sewing machine oil can was found at an antique store in Klamath Falls, OR., and the wooden spool and clothes pin are my dear neighbors. The buttons are from her endless collection too.  Perhaps not centered accurately, it could stand to have some air above the can's spigot and less "base" at the bottom. 


What, Why and How of Goal Setting & Kupkiss, 6x6

"Kupkiss" 6x6" Oil    ©Brenda Boylan    Sold

As the days hasten to 2014, we begin to think more about the past year and ponder what next year will bring forth.

In this post, I am not trying to boast or make myself out to be the super duper star of this blog. My post is about YOUR goal setting and I am a huge believer in goal setting. What I wish to share with you is what I did to make my goals happen.  So this is my "What, Why and How" to goal setting. As for diets, we won't even tackle that subject...but I digress. 

Looking back, I think the past year has been quite extraordinary in terms of my growth as an artist. In light of the economic challenges most artists have experienced over the past 6 or more years, I made a mental decision to take this unknown "down time" and invest in the business of my work. This meant workshopping with master artists, building up marketing online and off, pushing myself to stretch in ways that made me very uncomfortable, and to try new things. I had decided that when the economy was ready for art, I would be ready for IT. And so for the past 6 years or so, I hunkered down and focused. I said "yes" to those opportunities that would lead me to my ultimate goal and avoided the ones that would misdirect me...and boy, there were many! I lost a few friends along the way, opting out of some fun, smaller art shows, I sacrificed a few family events, but I stayed the course. Reflecting back over this past year, things are really starting to move along. Do I regret any of my choices?  Perhaps a few, Am I fulfilled? A resounding YES!  Let me explain... 

It all happened a few years ago when I attended the Plein Air Convention in 2012, the early morning marketing class that Publisher Eric Rhodes taught really hit me on the side of the head.  I knew this stuff. I read it in books, I discussed it with others, I heard it on tapes, but something took over that early morning session that made me shift my ways. It wasn't easy either. It took work.. really hard work. I was no longer a pin ball bouncing around just doing things. I had directions. The thing is, it takes focus for any goal to happen. I just decided to work on it, and try to stay balanced. I accepted that somethings just get out of whack when the focus is lazer hot, but then you gotta make a point to take "down time" to realign. Life just gets in the way as always, and that is to be expected. Then this year, I began to see actual results for the first time in all my 19 years. I began to get invitations to participate in some incredible shows, judging opportunities came my way and galleries began to call. My work was getting noticed online and off, but the best part was that my work was beginning to sell. 

My first hope for you in the new year would be to DECIDE what it is you want. Write it down and look at that goal daily. 
Secondly, FOCUS on what it is you want. Stay clear of distractions and opportunities that will end up taking you nowhere. 
Work hard. No explanation here.
Evaluate and decide.  Sit down with yourself and ask what worked and what didn't, and make the needed changes. 
Take chances and have fun with your art. It will take hard work and sometimes be uncomfortable, but it's all so worth it.

Here are a few of my top picks for goal setting:
(Disclaimer:  I am not getting paid to post this, just sharing what I have done)

Eight Habits of Highly Effective Artists  Blog Talk Radio with Leslie Saeta

15 Ways to Get Back on Track for Your Best Year Ever.  Blog Talk Radio with Leslie Saeta

I'd Rather be in the Studio! by Alyson B. Stanfield

How to Sell Art by J Jason Horejs

Plein Air Convention, Monterey, CA. April 7-11, 2014

All my best to you in the new year!


The Blue Line, 24x24

"The Blue Line" 24x24"  Pastel  ©Brenda Boylan

I have been wanting to paint this scene for some time now. It took many detours along the way, (no pun intended), as some paintings take on a direction of their own.  I started out with an image that I took a few months ago on my iPhone and I uploaded it to Instagram where I had the liberty to try different filters for different effects. I really loved one filter in particular, Mayfair, with the contrast boost. Once on the easel, I saturated the colors a tad to add to the drama to this gray city scene. My interest was to use a warm/cool palette of blues and oranges complimented with neutral grays.  At one point the painting had stalled for two weeks as I was distracted, so it sat..and sat. Then one morning I woke up to a fallen easel, face-planted down on the studio floor!

Oh my!

Luckily, the painting avoided any potential smudging or dents. Thankfully it dodged that bullet. With pastels, it is always a good idea to tilt your standing easel forward a bit. This tilt helps the pastel dust to drop away from the painting, keeping it from contaminating the painted areas below. Unfortunately, not a lot of easels are designed to lean forward. (perhaps a Christmas gift idea?) Lesson learned:  weigh down the back of an easel if it is tilted forward. Anyway, I am happy to share "The Blue Line". It will be available in late December at Attic Gallery, located at 206 SW 1st, Portland, OR.

Here is a cropped view of the more "busier" part of the piece

Starting off with a sketch in blue pastel pencil

I tried a bright blue underpainting with water-based createx paint
to give it that "cold, fall day" feeling.


Thankfulness continues...

"Dried Bud" 6x6" Oil      ©Brenda Boylan  Sold

It's been a rocky road for many in America these past seven years, give or take. Perhaps our struggles may seem petty for those less fortunate ones across the globe, but there are many things that could always be better. Some don't even notice as their days fold into years. Thanksgiving continues for me long past the festivities. I mention this because there was a time when I was living in borderline poverty as a child and so I can attest to the hardships some people go through. I made it through with an exceptional desire to work hard and focused planning. It has given me a unique perspective on life, and so I'd like to mention a few things at the top of my mind that I am most grateful for, not in any order.

Food (gluten free food especially)
Health (fragile at times)
Family (this includes friends)
The gumption to work hard
Art Supplies
Dark chocolate
Live music
A hearty laugh
Good red wine
Safe neighborhood
A car that drives

Ok, there are more, but this is what tops my list.

What are you thankful for?

Artist Note:  I have representation by two new galleries I must mention here. Attic Gallery in Portland, OR., and Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ.  So yes, there is always more to be so thankful for.


SALE SALE SALE...Ok, did I get your attention?

What better way to get one's attention but to write the word SALE! for a title!

Really now....Well, here is what's going on...

I have been thinking... since I no longer offer reproductions through my galleries, or my galleries just don't offer giclee' options, then I should somehow offer them for sale elsewhere as I have plenty of inventory, and where else but to share with my faithful blogger buddies. These classic reproductions are priced at drastically reduced prices (50%) to all my new and long time subscribers, to thank you for being such loyal bloggies. It's my gift to you! Just think, that person who has everything, will now have something unique and personal and more of everything.  So, you may be asking..."What is the catch?"

There is no catch!
All works are printed on Epson Velvet Cotton, a supreme paper that gives the reproductions a wonderful appearance of "pastel". All are matted in "off white" archival cotton mats and shrink wrapped for shipping. Shipping is FREE through USPS! Did I say FREE? Well, only once, but it's true, free shipping to you or to your recipient. I will be taking payment through Paypal.  Expect about a week for me to get it out the door and to your destination.

Each one is a flat $32. That's it! No shipping or handling charges, no taxes, no extra coal in your stockings...you get the idea?

First come, first served!

"Boats with Ropes"  10x8" $32   Sold

"Lavender Afternoon III"  8x10"  $32

(one more still available)
"Between Moments"   10x8"  $32.  SOLD

"Cafe' Seating"  10x8"    $32   Sold
"Watmough Bay"  10x8"    $32

"Lopez Harbor"   10x8"    $32   Sold

"Curbsides"   10x8"    $32

"Red Blueberry Rows"  10x8"   $32

"September Symphony"  10x8"    $32. SOLD


"Seeing Values Clearly" Workshop

"4 Color Fred"  12x9" Pastel  nfs

Here I have used Photoshop to render the color out of the image, 
leaving the values to indicate shape and form.

Since the day I started teaching workshops on art and pastels, nearly all of my students have told me that values were the hardest thing to understand and get right in their paintings. This had me thinking that perhaps there is a big void in the education of painting and art.  No, I'm not talking about how much a work of art is "worth", although that could be a topic for another blog post. I am talking about the lights and darks and all shades of colors in between that give a work of art volume and shape, providing atmosphere and depth, as well as mood.  So I have decided to offer a one-day workshop on "Identifying Values Clearly" for a mere $95. What a value! The class will be a offered at Sequoia Gallery and Studios in Hillsboro, OR. in February of 2014.  Click HERE for more info and registration. Hope to see you there!

Above, this is a study using only values as the method of creating an image that I had done in a workshop with Kitty Wallis. This was my big "ah ha" moment as my work began to take shape and improve dramatically once I understood how to control this important aspect of painting.