I’m starting to present artists who paint Winter landscapes in soft pastels. Just to make it clear, since the Winter looks different in southern California than the one in Sweden I’ll be presenting only snow winters. The gallery with the links to the artists will be on the left column. The paintings that were so far presented should end up in the January gallery as soon as I figure out how to do that in the WordPress.
There are couple of demos and instructions how to paint snow and winter landscapes and I’m recommending the WetCanvas class by Deborah Secor and demos by Tom Christopherdemo1demo2demo3.
Whether you are a blooming artist exploring the world of soft pastels or you are an established master pastelist, here is a great lesson, or better to say many great lessons which can open up a new way of painting, or it can enrich your style. This online lesson was given by Charlotte Herczfeld on the WetCanvas.com forum and was commented by many artists. The post thread is very long and this index will help you find your way through a lot of useful information. The lesson in that thread is based on the work and teachings of Susan Sarback. If you don’t know Susan it is enough to say that the International Artist Magazine named Susan one of the Master Painters of the world. To learn more about her teachings I recommend you read her book Capturing Radiant Light and Color in Oils and Soft Pastels.
Pan European pastel society The Pastel Guild of Europe is publishing free monthly newsletter. You can find old issues here and if you like it you can subscribe at the bottom of the home page. The newsletter has some society specific articles but in general it is a good read for all pastel artists. In the latest issue you can read about:
Some artists are proportioning their works to approximate the Golden ratio. Special form of the golden ratio is golden rectangle, in which the ratio of the longer side to the shorter is the golden ratio. It has been said that the Golden Rectangle is the most visually satisfying of all geometric forms. The strange thing is that we don’t know why human eye likes it.
The internet is full of explanation about the Golden ratio and it is easy to find many references by simple search. One explanation I like is by Dianne Mize on emptyeasel.com.
Very good example how to compose a good landscape using the Golden ratio is this painting by Suzan Ogilvie. Susan is a well known pastel artist and a lecturer. Her works attracts me in ways I can’t describe. Maybe I ‘ve just found the reason :). Take a look at her blog to experience it yourself part 1 and part 2.
Many artists complain that Canson Mi-Teintes paper is not lightfast enough – meaning that the color would eventually fade when the paper is exposed to sunlight for some time. The pastelist Marsha Hamby Savage who mainly uses this paper for her soft pastel paintings is explaining in her blog how to prepare Canson paper to endure more light. Marsha is an expert in using this paper while the great deal of the soft pastel artists, including me, are having nightmares where they are left with no sanded paper in sight.
Tennessee based artist Paula Ann Ford, who specialized in beautiful soft pastel landscapes, shares her process of doing pastel underpainting followed by the alcohol wash.
“I normally use a dark value of blue at the top of the sky, then in the middle sky a medium (lighter than the dark) value, and then at closest to the horizon or in this case tops of the trees with the lightest value of blue. It almost looks like 3 stripes.
Then I block in the darkest value for all of the trees in the background. In this painting, I used a Mount Vision extremely dark navy blue.
Then in the foreground I use the same blues as the sky for the snow, but in reverse order. The lightest will be the farthest away; the medium will be in the middle; and the darkest will be in the foreground.
That covers all of the board and I’ve only used 4 colors…” read more on Paula’s blog
Whenever color is concerned, it’s best to begin with the color wheel. By studying the relationships of individual colors and how they interact with each other, we develop a better understanding of why certain colors work when placed together. This is a powerful tool in choosing what to place in a painting. Nature works. It shares an atmospheric relationship and a light source that creates the natural appearance we accept. Our paintings, on the other hand, are created “artificially” with pigments on a flat surface. We have to create the illusion of reality and harmony… Richard McKinley blog
“This may seem simple but be sure to sign your artwork – redundantly. Sign your painting on both the front, AND the back. And on the back please write the name of your painting. And this is why…
I just finished hanging a show. As we went to label the show we ran into an issue. An artist had two paintings accepted into the show but we couldn’t figure out which piece was which so we couldn’t place the labels. The titles of the works didn’t give us a clue and there was no writing on the back of the paintings. The problem was that one piece was for sale and the other was NFS. We wound up making a guess based upon the titles but hope we haven’t made a mistake in case the wrong one sells! This may seem like a small detail, but to folks hanging a show it can become a problem and the issue could get lost in the confusion of prepping for an opening…” Liz Haywood-Sullivan blog
Great demo on youtube by Deborah Secor where you can see how Deborah is using PanPastels. You can also see it in the pastel video section on top-right of this page.
“This is the painting I did in the new video demonstration that PanPastels has produced. You can take a look at it here.
In the video I use PanPastels on my favorite paper, Pastelmat. You get to watch over my shoulder for a half hour as I paint and talk. I share a lot of techniques you can use with the Pans and a bit about painting the landscape, too.
So grab a cup of coffee and take a bit of time to watch me paint. I hope you enjoy it!” Deborah Secor blog
A few years ago while I was on a painting trip with legendary pastel plein air artist Glenna Hartmann, the question of how to handle green was posed. After a perfectly timed pause, she quietly responded, “I avoid it at all cost.” The ensuing discussion was very interesting. It seemed that every painter there had an issue with green.
As the discussion unfolded, it boiled down to a few issues. One of the most mentioned was the pigment used to make green pastels. What we see in nature is light reflected off of a surface. It shares a relationship with its surroundings as well as the bias of the light source. In our paintings, we’re creating an illusion of what’s real. Since we’re incapable of placing real light on a surface, we have to use man-made colors that reflect light back to the observer, representing what we see. link