Monday, May 27, 2013

Experimenting with Pastel Paper

I have not been a fan of plain paper for pastels. I tried to use Canson Mi-Teintes when I first learned to use pastels and I found it difficult and messy. Most pastel teachers requests new students use this paper. I feel there are better options that are less frustrating. Recently, I watched one of my friends work on this paper, and now that I have much more experience with pastels, I thought I should give it another try so I purchased one sheet.

I also bought a new pastel paper (new to me) at Blicks. My local store carries very few pastel papers, which is disappointing for the many pastelists in my town. We keep asking them to carry more variety, but it hasn't helped yet. I was hoping to find a paper I liked locally, so I didn't have to order everything online. I had one of their 40% off coupons, and decided to use it on this paper. It is Sennelier Pastel Spiral Pad . It seemed similar to the Canson, but was a lighter weight.

I decided to use both papers in a test. I wanted to follow along with one of Richard McKinley's online lessons, so I used his composition for my experiment.
On the left is the Canson, and the Sennelier is on the right. Both papers were similar in texture (on their 'smooth' sides). On the backs, the Canson has a definite grid-like pattern and the Sennelier has numerous vertical stripes, both of which I find distracting.

Both papers were pretty dusty and lots of pastel dust filtered down. They both seemed to need the first layer pressed into the paper for the next layer to start to adhere. Hard pastels didn't work too well on either. The very soft pastels such as Terry Ludwig's and Great Americans were great on the Sennelier.  

My conclusion is that I am still not a fan of Canson. The Sennelier holds promise and I plan on using it in the future.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday Plein Air - Emily Traphagen Preserve

Today, again, Mother Nature was keeping it pretty cold for Memorial Day weekend. It was 34 degrees and by the time we got to the park, it hadn't warmed up much. Luckily, there was no wind and the sun was out.

We were delayed from our normal start time, as the park rangers asked us to leave for about an hour. It seems there was a coyote that looked very ill following around visitors walking their dogs. Normally, they would stay away from humans and large dogs. So the rangers had to find it and put it down. We got started after 9am.

I had been to the park in the late winter and there are two wetlands which I had hoped were still interesting. I walked back into the park by myself to the wetlands. Both were pretty grown up but I stopped at one that had some interesting grasses. I did a quick 4x6 pastel.

Even though the ranger had taken care of the coyote, I had an uncomfortable feeling being out there by myself. I packed up and went on down to the small lake and the east overlook. I painted looking west towards the dam, where all the other painters were.

Click link for a video of the scene below:

Both paintings are pastel done on my homemade pumice mixture on paper. That is the texture you see in the closeup.

We had a large group today. I think we had over 17.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Plein Air - Wahkeena Preserve

We painted at a wonderful place today, Wahkeena Preserve, Sugar Grove Ohio. It was a damp day with clouds and drizzle, but a comfortable temperature. But the rain didn't deter us and it ended soon after we got started. We ended up with 13 painters today.

I worked on Arches "Oil" Paper today. I like to use this occasionally. I setup looking into the woods with the  azaleas in bloom. Beautiful! Process shots to follow, but first, I want to show you the neat flower of the Tulip Tree - isn't it an exotic flower for Central Ohio?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday Plein Air - Gallant Farm

Our weather sure doesn't want to give us painters a break. We haven't had a comfortable Saturday yet. Today, it was misty, overcast and cool at about 55 degrees. We painted at Gallant Farm park near Delaware. This is one of my favorite places. I was hoping the machinery shed would be open so I could paint old farm 'stuff' but I started a good hour before the farm educator arrived. Luckily for us, she got the wood cook stove going in the farm house, and made us hot coffee and tea, and allowed us to do our critique in the kitchen!

 I decided to setup looking south. I had intended on painting the corner of the equipment shed, the gate, and the trees beyond. It's hard to see in these photos, but there was a very distant view in the break of the treeline above the gate. I tried painting in the shed, but I got to that period in a painting where it is really ugly and you wonder if you should go on, or scrap it. I kept pushing myself to move on and try to finish, but the shed just wasn't working. It made too strong a statement, when I really wanted to capture that distant view.

So ...... time to demolish the barn and plant a tree!

I worked hard at getting the values and colors of the layers correct for the distance, and tried to be very free with my brush strokes in the new tree area in the foreground right. There is a bit of glare here, but I am very happy with how this turned out.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

How to Mess Up a Perfectly Good Painting

The group painted at Blendon Woods metro park today. I liked the view to my left that had a slope with a white crabapple tree. I worked in oils today and am pretty rusty! I thought the white tree looked weird, so once I got home, I scraped it off and repainted the whole painting. I don't think I improved it at all. I still have trouble putting down enough paint and in clean colors. I need to practice!
As done on site

Studio finish
After I was done with that painting, I still had paint on the palette and did a quick painting knife painting. I always feel my palette knife paintings are much more interesting!
We had a large group today with over 20 painters. A few didn't make it to the critique. Kevin Buckland and Aida Garrity did our critique today.

Here's some photos and a video that Bill Westerman recorded today. In the video, they are discussing my painting!

 Pardon the sound, we had a lot of wind blowing