A Blog about Finding Inspiration

"We have a wonderful world to be inspired by and each new day is like an adventure into the unknown, where things that require a second glance can be captured in time on a canvas for anyone to enjoy forever." (Louise Corke)

Friday, April 22, 2011

New pastel painting of Jeckell Island Marsh

11"x14" pastel of Jeckell Island Marsh.. The photo color  is more saturated than the actual painting.
 Last November I visited Jeckell Island.  I was very impressed with all the beautiful colors in the marsh.
Reference photo used to create the painting.
The pastel work area was set up so I could see both a value and a colored rendition of the reference.
I printed out the reference photo in color black and white to give me a understanding of the values in the scene.  I also displayed the photo on a monitor next to my easel. , then made a little test sheet of the colors/values  I wanted to use. Using my newly sorted values made painting the scene a snap.

Doing my homework

 My recent pastel workshop reinforced the importance of knowing the value range ot the stick of pastel I am working with.  So I set myself the task of grouping my collection of pastels by colors, and temperature, then sorting them again by value.

A photo of some mid tone sienna color chips against the gray scale. 
It's easy to do with the dark and light ends of the spectrum, but mid values get a little trick.  I wound up making a color chip of each pastel stick, then visually ranking the color chips, then  photographing the chips against a set of known value gray scale sheets.
I used photoshop to remove the color saturation so I could view it in gray tones
 A week later I have a well sorted set of  700  pastel sticks arranged and labeled  by  brand, #, color, and value. And I have a set of color chips with the same information just in case I loose the label and need to figure out where a stick of color belongs.
This is only a portion of  my set.

Greg Barnes Workshop

 I  recently attended a three day Greg Barnes pastel  workshop which was held at  the Island Art Gallery on Pawleys Island. The workshop opened as usual with introductions and a verbal review of the equipment that would be used. After which Greg gave us brief demonstration of his pastel painting technique.

The Demonstration on the first day was of painting from a reference photo.   Greg chose a traditional marsh scene from the photos he had brought with him, and proceeded to sketch the scene on his pastel paper with vine charcoal

Then he blocked in the dark tones often smudging the areas to blur and blend the tones.
 Next he put in the  mid tones followed by the lighter shades leaving these more distinct, especially near the focal point.
 Below you can compare the painting with the reference photo.  Obviously Greg is not into slavishly copying the original photo.
Greg then added in the highlights ,  intense tones , and details to finish the piece in less than two hours..

Day two was a lesson in plein air painting.  Actually all three days should have included some plein air work, but the weather didn't cooperate.  The morning of the second day was the only time it didn't pour.
 The subject of the painting was the Island Deli across the parking lot from the Gallery.  The bright red roof was eye catching in the morning sun against the stately old oak tree.
 Greg set up his easel in the parking lot outside the gallery and proceeded to sketch the scene in vine charcoal.

 Then Greg blocked in his colors.  Again he started with the dark tones of the oak, but quickly threw in some of the mid value red so as to have something to judge the other mid tones against.

This is a photo of the painting  when Greg ended the demonstration an hour and a half later.

On day three, it poured, so we were again stuck inside.  Greg decided to show us how to paint with a limited number of colors  

 using a background toned with watercolor .

 As promised, Greg pulled it off beautifully.   The trick, it seems, is in knowing your values well enough to pick the right set of limited colors.

 Each afternoon the class worked on their own paintings, while Greg coached us.  

 Every one's style was different.  From the semi abstract and dreamy painting above,

to the dark and moody one above. 

There were some highly realistic renditions,

and even an attempt to paint the same scene as Greg's original demo.(Below)
Clearly personal style matters.  Both paintings were beautifully rendered, but each was unique.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Thunderhead 4 '11

With all the storms hitting the South, there has been a lot of dramatic cloud formations in the sky over the marsh....I just finished this pastel painting of a thunderhead I saw yesterday.

Oh by the way, so far, dramatic cloud formations are about the only action we have seen from those storm fronts.