Month: February 2020

Winter Trees at Dawn

Second pastel.

Here, I used a medium blue paper and tried out different techniques, such as circular blending with the pastel itself, a torchon, fingers. I used vine charcoal and charcoal pencils for some of the finer lines.

The snow on the trees was an interesting challenge. To accomplish it, I scribbled some pure white pastel onto it, and then used the tip of the torchon to blend around it.

Compositionally, I think there is something missing here . . . I also think the midground could be a bit different to convey a sense of depth.

For a second bout with pastels, I can say I am enjoying what I am doing, even though I have to dress like a hazmat worker! (I wear a mask to keep the dust down.)


I started out with an attempt at doing a realistic succulent in gouache. It just wasn’t there. Then my pastels class came between it and me. And this ode to Audrey (from “Little Shop of Horrors” fame) moved into a sort of abstraction of its own. Normally my gouache tends to be done with thick paint and a stiff brush; here, softer paint and a softer brush. Quite a different experience and one I will need to revisit.

Dry Hills in Malibu

Yesterday I started an 8 week course in pastels. Already I am in love with the medium! Add to this, the teacher is a real teacher – she is a professional who teaches full time in an elementary classroom. She is organized, states what she expects, interacts, demonstrates, and all the things that are so important in learning something new. Some teachers just say “have at it” and you stumble along, not knowing what you are doing. Yes, experience is a good teacher, but explanations and clarity really help one understand what is going on. I am looking forward to more classes!

Here is a picture from the Malibu Creek State Park near where I live. We all had a copy of a photograph to use, and then she explained the Rule of Thirds, the Golden Mean, and explained how she changed the composition of the photo to meet the needs of the Rule of Thirds. Value studies, too, were done before even picking up a color.

We used Nupastels, made by Prismacolor. Inexpensive but very nice. I have some Rembrandt soft pastels that I will use later on, or in conjunction with the ones we have in the classroom. As I love colors and drawing, this is a perfect combination of “things” – and these pictures are not “drawings” but “paintings” in the lexicon of the teacher.  I never considered a pastel a painting.

I have not been this excited about a class in a very, very long time.

Patio Sketches

Where-oh-where does time go?  I have been busy – so busy – that I have not sat down with a brush or piece of paper in ages it seems.  Sewing socializing, health, family, photography, hiking, knitting – just some of the things taking up my time.  I can’t use cold weather as an excuse.  I’ve been more busy than I am used to – and enjoying all of it.

And yesterday?  The weather was lovely, so out into the dog free zone I went, travel palette, cup of water, a paper towel, water brushes.  The 6×8 Bee paper is perfect for just playing – it’s a decent paper, 100% cotton, and heavy enough to mush a lot of water around on both sides.  I just played, using the daffodils in a vase inside – brought outside – plants on the patio, fruit and vegetables from the kitchen.  I could tell I was rusty – but had fun anyway!

I need to remember my promise to myself when I retired: paint or draw every day! Like a vitamin or a prayer – good for the soul.