City Drama, 24x24

"City Drama" 24x24" Pastel on sanded paper   Sold

Wow! This sure is a drastic shift from my past work! I mentioned in one of my past blog entries that I'm thinking about making changes in my work, wanting to brighten up my palette and work on brushstroke quality more and more? Well, I've tried something new and it was sure fun! In an effort to come up with an entry for the NPS Members Show this coming April, it has to be a bit experimental as stated in their show prospectus. In this piece I've applied gold leaf to the piece that was entirely experimental for me. I've wanted to use gold leaf for a long time now and here is my first attempt. My inspiration for working on a night scene comes from 2 sources. One, In a recent artists' gathering, we saw the work of one fellow artist Michael Fisher and he shared with us his nocturne paintings...simply spectacular! And 2, I also was influenced by a recent article in The Pastel Journal on artist Tony Allain. Both show sensitivity to brush work and color, composition and subject matter. I'm not sure if I'll keep onward with this nocturnal theme work, however, it was a good stretch for me.

So, here is my first attempt to a night scene, a work in process (WIP) series. Photo resource from the Reference Image Library.

In this first step, I mounted Wallis Museum Grade sanded paper on a gessoed gator board and under-painted it with a mix of dark blue, black, and purple Createx Pure Pigment paint. I used a light blue pastel pencil to lightly mark my intentions always loosely, so not to over-commit to the scene. Don't want this painting to be rigid now, do I? Naw...

Here, I've applied the gold leaf to areas I want to shimmer with light. I applied this leaf first and formost simply because I don't think it would stick directly to a surface covered with dusty pastel. This was my first time trying gold leaf and it was a bit messy for me. I wasn't sure on the "how" to do it, but I knew that I had to paint on a gluey solution on the preferred areas for it to stick. Then I applied the leaf gingerly with my fingers and using a funny flat-tipped brush to tamp down onto the leaf. I think it worked. My 8 year old boy thought it was "neat" that I was using "real gold"! OOOh!

Now for the color! Blocking in basic shapes of light and dark patterns all while I'm figuring out what colors I'm going to use. Working on a black surface has its twists because the colors seem brighter on an intensely dark surface than working on a light surface.

Here, I want to communicate that the illuminating neon lights are what makes this scene. Without those lights, this scene would be just another city street. Adding details and still sorting out what goes where, I begin to forget what the resource photo has, and begin to play with the mark-making and color placement.

Finished! I love it when I'm nearing the end of a piece. It's so satisfying and thrilling, meditative and calming, correcting and reviewing all the while.

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Staged Zest (study), 6x6

"Staged Zest, study" 6x6" Pastel on sanded paper

Lemons! Don't they remind you of Summer? In this little piece, I wanted the color to sing by using the complementary colors of yellow and purple. I used a fun mark-making technique called "broken color" where the underpainting or underlying colors are allowed to peek through, making the eye "mix" the colors in the mind. See the table-top...it has marks of yellow, pink and blue. And I just love that bright red on the lemon skin. Makes my mouth water.

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Reds and Reeds (study), 6x6

"Reds & Reeds" (study), 6x6" pastel on sanded paper

Feeling a little happy from the recent news, the creative juices have been flowing! Stopped by two galleries today: Broderick Gallery and Portland Classic Gallery to see what's new and to get a boost. It's so awesome to view other's work, see the brushstrokes, colors, feelings.

I picked this one image up from my favorite Reference Image Library. Once started from my demos during Portland Open Studios, I've decided to finish it up. I'm so glad I did. There are so many ideas I'd like to put to paper! I'm thinking about making changes in my work, wanting to brighten up my palette and work on brushstroke quality more and more. I'm not sure if this one painting really does what I'm desiring but just the same, I'm so drawn to water themes and soft soothing scenes. It's hard to change a way or style of an artist's work, just like trying to change the color of your wool carpet. It's dyed into me.

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Autumn Song, 6x6

"Autumn Song, study", 6x6" Pastel on sanded paper

Seems like it's been awhile since I last posted anything new! Since the beginning of the year, I have been pulled in several directions and I'm wanting to do so much....how does one keep up with it all? And there is so much to do with my family, keeping up with all that my kids have going on that I nearly forgot to paint/post any new work! And to top it off, I've been terribly distracted by FaceBook! Augh! Excuses!

Anyway, I'm back! And I'm painting!

Here is one from the demo series that I've since completed this week. It has a nice combination of colors that I'm thinking will make my list of fav's: purple and rusty reds...yummy! It is definitely autumn in this watery scene with the foggy atmosphere hanging over the waterway. Very soft, distant tree-lined horizon gives it a dreamy mood.

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Sylvia, 12x12

Sylvia, 12x12" Pastel on sanded paper

The Portland Plein air & Studio Painters' group has a couple of winter projects underway to keep our skills up during the colder months. One in particular, the Portrait Challenge, is a fun one because each participant is paired with another willing artist to act as the model. This is Sylvia, my partner, in all her glorious color! We met a couple of weeks ago at a Starbucks coffee and sketched each other and talked about art for nearly 3 hours. This is what I have so far and I hope she is not offended by the garrish color! I realize that the monitor is nowhere close to realistic color, so hang with me on this one! As you look at it, squint your eyes to help mix the colors. That bright orange somehow changes to a flesh color when you simplify your vision. Try it!

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Koi Color, 4x6

"Koi Color" 4x6"

Over the Christmas break, we had a lot of snow which kept everyone from going out. Parties, programs, meetings all cancelled! It's amazing how the snow will stop us dead. One anticipated party that I was looking forward to was the Paint-Out groups' annual painting exchange. We all paint a piece that will fit into a standard 8x10 frame, wrap it in a brown paper bag and exchange them like a white elephant gift. It's fun to see what you will end up with! This is my gift that someone will get. Since I had spare time on my side by being house-bound, I had time to try something new. I mixed some Golden acrylic ground (ground marble) with oxidized red pigment and painted it onto a gessoed gatorboard. Left to dry, it leaves a nice rough surface that grabs the pastel pigment well. I usually use Wallis with a wash of color, but trying to experiment a bit with some other surfaces that I've seen used by other pastelists. It was nice to try. One benefit to this Golden acrylic ground is that you can apply it to any large or non-standard board creating a custom piece. You can add a tint of pigment to the ground, creating any color underpainting you want.

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