Rush Creek in 15 Minutes

Seemed appropriate that a 15-minute study should be of a place called Rush Creek up in the Eastern Sierras!

Aspens, calm water, reflections, and done. I also used this as an opportunity to check out a new spray fixative (for me). This is an acrylic semi-gloss.

The problem with pastels is they smear if touched, so storing them and framing them can be a bit tricky. Smearing was attenuated well here, but it did take about 8 applications, some of which were a single coat, and the last about 4 or 5, back and forth, out of impatience.

Fixatives often dull colors or darken them, and whites can be especially vulnerable. This one seems to have done okay, perhaps turning the white of the aspen trunks to a creamy color, but the white trunks on the middle right seem to be doing okay.

Interesting thoughts arise . . .

Study at Pt. Lobos

You could spend your life exploring and drawing and painting Pt. Lobos in the Monterey area. Here is a quick study in pastels. This was a particularly difficult one to do because of the nature of the medium – messy and full of fine dust!

The distant cliffs across the waters are seen through the trees. Unlike gouache, you cannot paint over layers as successfully in pastels. More layers mean less success, even when you use a workable fixative. In watercolor masking can help as well as the fact you work from light to dark, so darker watercolor can obscure lighter washes.

In the end, the sky was a messy mush up weirdness – the white scribbles were my solution to the problem, but oddly, it did help out in the end. The sky was a flat grey, and here it gives the same flatness of color that morning.

37 Minute Painting

Another timed painting. This time the requirement was 37 minutes. I set my phone alarm and was shocked to hear it go off! I was checking it off and on, but suddenly it just rang, and here is the result.

This time I used Uart 600 grit paper, which is like a fine sand paper. It pulls the color of the pastels really easily so a lighter touch is required when painting than with the unsanded Mi-Teintes paper. I used a combination of photos for this one as I needed a creek, but I wanted some oaks and hills from around here. Not especially successful as far as I am concerned; the exercise was the point. I did get into the zone of painting even through I knew that timer would go off at some point.

24 Minute Painting

Following along with a pastels instructor, the by-word of the month is “fast and furious”. Well, for me, this means in less than 30 minutes. The instructor suggests 15 minutes. I decided to give myself “under 30” for a “fast and furious.” Here is the result.

The point of the fast-and-furious approach is to keep the artist from over thinking and overworking a painting. This exercise is invaluable as decisions have to made quickly and decisively. Pondering doesn’t happen! Instead it is like, hmm, let’s see; I think this could work. Grab, paint, run on to the next section. Top to bottom with swaths of color here and there to carry out a sense of continuity.

It worked out.

I won’t show you the first attempt.

High Desert Rain

I have had a perfectly lovely day today! Went out on a short road trip, did some photography, ate a Croque Madame for lunch, and drove through beautiful back country here where I live. Josh came along, and we had a nice day out. Once home, a nap, some coffee, and then, at long last, the pastels came out from hibernation! The result is more rain (we get none, I want some!) as subject matter. As pastels lend themselves to blurring and blending, I decided to use a long stroke of a finger tip, moving at an angle from top to bottom, to suggest that fierce rain one sees in the high desert. Dark background and a sunlit foreground. So fun to do!

Storm Above the Pedernal

Another painting on the reverse of another, again employing dampening the paper before commencing. More hake brush wet-in-wet. I wanted to catch the brilliance of the land beneath the storm as spots of sunshine break through a fast moving storm. In the Southwest, this is common and exciting to see – sometimes the landscape shifts in seconds.

About Dionysos’ Pond

Another painting done primarily with a hake brush.

This painting was done on the reverse of a previously painted piece of Arches 16×20 CP 140#. I wet the paper initially, taping it only in the corners, and was rather pleased to see how the paper relaxed once wet. I moved the tape as needed to keep the paper flat.

Anyway, the work here was themed on wet-in-wet, use of an excessively large brush (for me!), and standing up, rather than seated. The results were interesting – standing up allowed for more freedom of brush stroke. Getting the paper wet and letting it set a bit before starting the washes also helped.

Compositionally, I think it is a bit bland – really very little to lead the eye. However, this was not my focus here; rather, I wanted to use the hake brush to create sky and foliage as well as broader swaths of color. The nature of the soft brush allows for thin lines, rough splotches of color with white or underlying colors to show through, as well as washes of subtle beauty. From there I used a rigger to create branches, trunks, and some more calligraphic and suggestive lines.

Incoming Storm

Another watercolor, mostly wet-in-wet, but I ended up doing a lot more details in dry brush as the painting progressed. Finally, I applied some glazes in an attempt to unify different sections as I had overworked the painting quite a bit. The even spacing of the brush / trees in the lower middle ground are rather amusing, too – didn’t I look? I didn’t really notice them until I scanned the painting!