Wednesday, August 29, 2012

More Fun with Foam Core Board

I recently decided to sell the pastel plein air setup I’ve used for a couple years because I wanted a different style. I love my plein air ‘gear’ and I am always envious of what the other guy has….  I am still deciding between two different brands and have decided to take my time with the purchase. 

I was leaning on buying the Heilman, Backpacker size pastel box and easel, but recently I’ve seen several painters online who were using the Sauter All-In-One Easel, Gypsy size. I’d seen the Heilman in action in person by several painters, but have yet to see the Sauter. So I decided to take some time to decide.

In the meantime it meant that I didn’t have pastel easel for the coming weekend! So I got the foam core out and made one! I’ve had an EasyL Pro easel, which I haven’t used much so I decided to try to use it as a base. EasyL sells a pastel insert for their bigger easel, but not this model.IMG_4401

Several years ago, I made my own studio trays for my pastels, and I had one extra tray leftover, so I started with this. It was just the right depth for inside the EasyL. It was a bit narrow for the space, but in the end, it was fine for a few pastel pencils on the side. I also needed to leave a space free in the top middle for the panel adjustment mechanism, so I put some of my blending tools there.

I wanted to use just what I had in the house and it needed to be fairly thin, so it is padded with craft foam instead of regular foam. I then created dividers and made a padded top to keep everything in place when it was all closed. Because it is all white (including the foam), you probably can’t see the details well, but this actually seems to work pretty nice! The size is similar to my other setup, but I had to leave out only about a handful of pastels. I originally wanted a new setup for travel on planes, but I am not sure this will be secure enough, and it won’t fit in my backpack like the above models. I think it will work well locally, for working near my car though.






Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Plein Air–Griggs Park

Today we painted along the Scioto river in Griggs Park near the Griggs dam. There is a change in the foliage now, the poison ivy is beginning to dry and turn red and the grass is heading back into dormancy after the dry summer. Still, there wasn’t much that caught my eye. I setup beside the stone shelter house to be shielded from the sun. It was convenient to have the ledge of the window to place my supplies (especially my coffee mug!).

Below is the view, and some process shots, followed by the finished painting.



Late Summer Hill, oil, 8 x 10

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Texture in Miniatures - Stream of Light SOLD

I've been continuing to play with home made textured surfaces for my pastels. I've done quite a few this week, but this one is my favorite! Love the texture where the light streams from the clouds into the unplanned 'happy accident'. This one is about 3" square.

SOLD - Dec 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Texture in Miniature SOLD

I've been playing with texture of pastel grounds lately. I was making a few tiny paintings this week for an art fair this coming weekend. I really liked this one. This is about 3" x 3" on a mat board that had been coated with Golden Fine Pumice Gel. I love the feeling of this surface for pastels. It has just enough grit to hold on to the pigment without feeling so scratchy of sand paper. Look at the nice lines of texture that are visible under the sky - that is what pulls me into the painting  Love it! Most of this one was done with Terry Ludwig hand-made pastels. These are new to my palette and they are luscious!

SOLD - Dec 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saturday Plein Air–Inniswood Metro Park

We painted at my favorite metro park today, Inniswood. It was a dreary overcast day, with intermittent sun, but it was a refreshing 70 degrees! Ahhhhhh. The other painters complained of being COLD, but I was feeling refreshed and very comfortable.

I setup in the herb garden, where the dusty pink Joe Pie weed caught my eye. I had recently watched an Albert Handell video and tried to use what I learned. I used Wallis sanded paper today. Unusual for me, but this is the paper Albert uses. I did a watercolor underpainting and after it dried, continued on with pastels. There is always that awful time in the middle of the process, where it gets really UGLY, and it is very tempting to just give up. But I continued and ended up with a nice painting. Here is the final painting and following are the process shots. If you look closely on each one, you can see the differences.



Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Studio Work - Pastel Surfaces, #2

Tonight I did a quick pastel on the board I coated with clear gesso. Not good. But it is ok, I like to experiment. Perhaps my color choices don't work well either..

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Studio Work - Playing with Pastel Surfaces

I've been reading recent articles by Richard McKinley and following Karen Margulis' blog, and both have been showing different ways of making interesting texture for pastel painting surfaces. I generally like softer surfaces for pastel, but I love the looks they showed.

This first experiment is a homemade mixture of finely ground pumice mixed with acrylic matte medium and brushed onto a piece of mat board to dry. The surface is REALLY rough and because of that, it was really chewing up my pastels. So I decided this was a good time to use my cheaper pastels which rarely get used, instead of my expensive ones.

I copied the composition and steps in Richard McKinley's article in Pastel Journal magazine.
This board was coated with the pumice mixture and  under-painted
with watercolors and dried. Then the beginning of pastel shown in light blue on top.

Composition put in loosely with large shapes.

Rubbed in.
I sprayed Spectra-Fix pastel fixative to see how this product works.
I thought I put a light coat but it looked pretty wet. Took awhile to dry.
After drying. Surprised - looks pretty much like it did before
the spray, but the pastel is set!

Finished painting.  Good experiment, but a bit rough for my tastes.
Perhaps the ratio of pumice powder to medium could be adjusted.
The next experiment was using Golden Fine Pumice Gel, which is very similar to what I made, but ready-made with a finer pumice. Easy Peasy!! I coated a piece of mat board, and it dried fairly quickly within an hour. This still had a nice texture, but softer and was much nicer to work on. I felt I could paint more quickly.

First pass

Finished painting.
I am pleased with this one. I use this product again.

I have also coated a board with clear gesso, which has its own sanded feel. I will use that on my next painting and report on the results.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Saturday Plein Air - Blue Limestone Park

We painted in Delaware Ohio today at the Blue Limestone Park. I found it hard to find much contrast in any scene, so I just picked this outcropping of rock across the water.

 I started out using harder NuPastels and then opened my new box of Terry Ludwig, handmade pastels. Terry recently had a 'mystery box' sale, and my box arrived just in time for Saturday's session. I hadn't purchased any of Terry's pastels before and was excited to try them. They are luscious and the colors that were selected for the box are great!

I finished up with my regular mix of pastel brands. I was trying to decide how much more to do, but it started to sprinkle rain, and rain with pastels doesn't work! By the time I had packed everything up, the rain quit.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

"Zion Spring" Accepted in Japan Art Exchange

Zion Spring, 11x14, oil
I've been hard at work on a mystery project for a couple weeks. I got word tonight that my above painting was accepted into a great exhibit! The painting will be part of the PNC Bank Worthington Sayama Exchange. As part of my local art league, we were asked to submit work to be included in an exhibit of artwork which will be exchanged with Worthington Ohio's sister city in Sayama, Japan. Our local work will be exhibited at the McConnell Arts Center (MAC) this fall. The representatives from Sayama will be coming to Ohio to view the exhibit and give some lectures on Japanese views of American art. The representatives will be bringing an exchange of Japanese artwork to then be displayed at the MAC, while our art work will be shipped and installed in Japan until the end of this year! So this painting along with 55 others will be world travelers. How cool is that? Yes, another Zion view! I wanted to paint something different than what the other Ohio artists might submit. 

The MAC has started a blog detailing the continuing process. The link is HERE. So, keep checking there along the way.

I wanted to show some process shots as I created this painting and talk about the process. In the pic below, you will see the far side of my studio. I posted printouts of my photo in B&W (to see the values) and a color print. I have heard that putting the photo across the room, makes you see the big shapes and not the details (although the artist which showed this idea, was using snapshot size pics, not large ones like mine). 

Then I did a small value sketch using grey felt tip markers in different values. I am pleased with this little sketch! Something very pleasing about a simple drawing. You will see how little this is in following photos on the right side of my easel.
I worked really hard trying to remember all the things I have learned from recent workshops and in particular, Michael Chesley Johnson, who mentored me on the Zion trip. He gave me many tips on how to paint these mountains!

I started out with a thin wash of color, trying not to get into details. I wanted to follow the values I established in the little sketch first as I knew I would be adjusting both value and color later.
Here is my easel and the tiny value study just to the right. I also had another color printout right beside me, so when I got to the detail of the red rocks in the middle left, I could see them better.
Here, I have started to figure out relationships between the cools in the shadows and warmth of the sunlit rocks, keeping in mind the reflecting light in some of the shadows. Also, beginning to make the foreground rocks warmer and more detailed. I was very conscious of edges.
Now, I have started to detail the trees and the river. I mostly used a palette knife in these areas. I was pleased with how it was looking and wanted to keep it very loose in this area.
I did a bit more fine tuning and called it done as seen in the first photo! I had only a little over a week to enter the exhibit in person, and was really hopeful that the paint would dry in time, which it did.