Crossing the Perch, 24x24

"Crossing the Perch"  24x24"  Pastel  ┬ęBrenda Boylan

After much struggle and delay, I've come to a point where I think all the corrections have been made to call this one piece complete. Along the way, I was flip-flopping between a warm or cool light source. If the light is warm then the shadows are typically cool and vice-versa. Because the foggy sky had a lot of cool color (a typical Portland sky), it made the painting very cool in nature and I didn't want another foggy painting.  So I switched the light to be warm (yeah, we artists can change weather almost in a blink) and it gave the painting the pop it needed.  Also, the highlights on the shiny cars and other urban motifs have either a pink or yellow hint to them from the warm light source, giving my painting some sparkle. Below I share my process of struggle and success...

There is a guy somewhere in Portland who now is in a painting! Who could he be? He originally was a tad to the right, but his head was in perfect alignment with the Nordstrom sign, and that created a direct linear path through the middle of the painting.  That being a big no-no, I scrubbed him off and moved him a cadence back.  Also of note, the grey street is not grey at all, but a series of colors lightly layered on top of each other.  Our eyes "mix" the color and that is what I love about pastels...the layering of colors that make the eyes excited.

Originally, the lower right hand area of the painting was just sidewalk and signs, so I added the ladies from other resource pics I had.  Originally the women didn't have hats on their heads, but as I was painting their hair, the bulkier it got and it began to look kind of nice.  So now they wear hats, as we often do to keep warm in Portland.

Then there are the birds. Every city has them, be it pigeons, seagulls or small brown finches and so I was inspired to name this piece after their heavenly perch because of their presence in every city. These gulls were originally perched a tad towards the middle of the light pole, but I moved them over to the left to give weight to this corner of the piece... creating a flow and balance to the overall composition.  There is lots to explore in this piece, but most of it is painted with a soft blur so it's not too fussy.  In keeping with focal point guidelines, (strong contrast in dark and light, complimentary colors touching, tighter detail, and busy shapes) I kept the tight rendering to the busy traffic pattern in the far distance.

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Keeping Track

Unison's Albert Handell Landscape Color Chart (sorry for the glare)

In a few weeks I will be teaching my pastel workshop and in preparation, I give my students a list of supplies and things to do prior the event.  Yesterday, one of my students asked a very good question that I thought may be of some helpful insight to those who have ever wondered.


"If I take the papers off the pastels, I am wondering how on earth you would know what color was what when you are reordering the ones you want.  Should I make little samples of each with the name? Or???


Sometimes I create a little "color chart" of my pastels when I purchase a set of pastels.  Some manufacturers will put a blank chart in the box for you to fill in with their palette, and some manufacturers don't.  In the photo above, I had to make my own.

This is Albert Handell's Landscape pastel set that I purchased at one of his workshops.  They are Unisons and I love them!  So when I brought them home from the workshop, I took off the wrappers one by one and marked them on this chart and then later had the sheet laminated so they wouldn't smear over time and use.  Now some of you may think this is silly, and some of you may really want to utilize this method of keeping track of your pastels for reorder.

To tell you the truth, I have never used one of my charts I've put together and that is probably because I usually go into my local art store (a fully stocked one) and just pick pastels like they were candy. It's not a great method, actually it's a pretty sloppy method. This wouldn't work for those who live in a remote area and have to order over the internet. :(  There are a few pastel colors I know darned well I'll be wishing I looked up on my charts because there is always a few favorites you tend to reach for time and time again.  When you've developed your color voice, as I have, then you will begin to know what you really want.  As for now, these are great ways to keep track of your very expensive babies!

So, this is one of those cases where one says "Do what I say, not what I do"  HA!
Hope this helps!

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Last call for Pastel Punch! workshop, 3/30~4/1

I'm sounding out the horn to let all of my bloggers know that I have a few spots left for my Pastel Punch! workshop. My workshop is intended for beginner to intermediate pastelists, as well as advanced, (there are a few of you who would prefer me to challenge you farther with your craft).  I love teaching and find a deep satisfaction in personal progress and love to push students to their fullest potential.  Perhaps I have a deep energy for it, but the fact is I LOVE pastels.  So come join me in this journey of artistic creation and learn ways to make your work stand out in a crowd.

More information for registration can be found here:  http://www.brendaboylan.com/Pastels/Workshops.html


Champagne For Everyone!, 20x17"

"Champagne for Everyone!" 20x17" Pastel ┬ęBrenda Boylan

Detail of "Champagne for Everyone!" (click to enlarge)

Last weekend (The Trilogy Event) is still fermenting in my mind as one of the highlights of the winter season and I wanted to post the final image of what I painted.  Of course, I began and "finished" this piece in one hour, but in reality, pieces created in quick draws usually need some final tweaking.  So it spent a little bit of time in the studio and here is the finished piece.  I usually don't share much about my painting method, but this time around I think I'll share with you how I do what I do.  After all, isn't that why people read blogs? For information?  Oh yeah.

I use the sides of my pastel sticks a lot! That way, the pastel makes a wide brush of color as well I have more control applying pressure on the sanded surface, giving me endless ways to make a mark.  I save the edges of the pastels for the expressive mark making and final details.  Because this bar scene has a lot of atmosphere, I wanted to capture that haze of the sunlight streaming in. I scumbled a bright yellow pastel in the window area and followed over with a bright light blue of the same value. Also, I carried out the blue throughout the painting to give it a light filled feeling.  You can see that the source of light throughout the scene is cool, and the interior is very warm with burgundy and mauve.  Because of that, I used complimentary colors to my benefit.  I pushed the background area (shutters, shelves, etc) by applying, with light pressure, a green pastel that was slightly lighter in value.  This "grayed" out the shutters helping them to recede as well as helping push the bolder colors forward. Look closely at the area in the lower left of the detail pic.  You can see the green over the dark burgundy.  This green helped support and pull together the other greens throughout the painting.  

As for the champagne flutes, they are just bits of color....yellow, blue, pink and purple.  The highlights on the champagne flutes make them sparkle.  Notice I didn't finish them off like a picture perfect photo?   That would be a shame because I believe it takes two people to finish a painting:  The artist and the viewer.  That way you get to wonder about the scene and complete the image, helping you to engage.

OK, that's it for my artistic dialogue.  Hope you enjoy this piece.


Surprise Workshop treats!

Sample pastels from the generous Terry Ludwig

This is a newsy post, so stay with me....

In preparation for my next pastel workshop I had contacted Terry Ludwig and asked if he offers sample packs so I could introduce these wonderful pastels to my students. He generously sent me a couple of boxes to share with my students, and I was surprised at the contents.  It was thoughtful of Terry to have hand rolled these samples with little "notes" on them.  They remind me of those Valentine's Day candies. My students will get their pick of these beauties as well as another box of sample pastels to start them off on their artistic journey. There is still room in my 3-day intensive workshop coming March 30, 31, and April 1st.  Registration and information can be found online HERE, and don't hesitate to call me if you need help with hotel recommendations.

I'm still working on my cityscape (my last post) but honestly, I think I want to cut it up into little pieces.  The energy seems to come and go from it, I'm fighting it all the way, and my colors are tending to go flat as well.  So instead of fighting it, I have put it away for now and I will return to it to and hopefully discover new energy and excitement. Oh well.

Trilogy Quick Draw painting in one hour.

Also, this past Saturday evening I participated in a very special event called the Trilogy Winemaker's Dinner and Quick Draw Auction at the Allison Inn & Spa. 18 talented artists were there to make a work of art in 1 hour.  Here I am proudly holding my finished piece titled "Champagne for Everyone" that sold to Portland's own Thomas Kitts.  I think the highest compliment to an artist is when another fine artist purchases his or her work, don't you think?

Which leads me to my last bit of news: I have made plans to attend the first ever Plein Air Conference held in Las Vegas this coming April 12-15th. If you are attending this event, please look me up. I would love to connect with you. Until then, happy painting!