Thursday, December 20, 2012

Workshop Information

"Pastels for Beginners" February 9, 9am-4pm, at Artists' Attic, 401 W. Main Street, Lexington, KY 40507
I'll have a discussion about pastels and then a demonstration followed by a step by step for students to create their own piece.
I will supply the sanded pastel paper but students need to bring their own pastel sets.
Suggested sets are 48 piece set of NuPastels
and if your budget allows I'd suggest the Sennelier 80 1/2 sticks - Plein Air Landscape set which I also use.
To register email me at and I'll email you my address to send the workshop fee.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Trail to LIcking River

"Licking River Trail Evening Light" 24"x18" pastel

"Licking River Trail sketch" 12"x8" pastel

Reference photograph "BlueLicks Trail"

"Licking River Trail Evening Light" is not finished but I like to view things 2/3 the way finished. This is one of those pieces I don't want to overwork and lose the abstracted freshness.

The next image is the sketch I created at BlueLicks State Park when I visited in June. The evening light illuminated the trail and made the vegetation glow. 

And the final image is the reference photograph that I took that evening.

I think its fun to see how the progression of a final piece from photo, to sketch, to studio piece.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Upstream at Cumberland Falls

"Upstream at Cumberland Falls"   16"x20" pastel on Uart paper

Upstream in the Morning Cumberland River  photo

Looking through all my reference photos from the Cumberland Falls trip, my eye keeps wandering back to a photo of Cumberland River above the falls. I took the photo early in the morning with the hillside and bridge backlit with morning sun hitting the maple trees and bank. The bridge is barely visible in the background.

In the pastel drawing "Upstream at Cumberland Falls" I pushed the background color to play on complementary colors between the maple tree and riverside against background hillside.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pines and Maples Evening Light

"Pines and Maples Evening Light" 17"x17" on Uart sanded paper

When I left Natural Bridge the evening light fell on the pines with the darkness of the forest creeping up the valley floor. No time to create a plein air drawing but I snapped lots of photographs.

Bright light hit the maples but to make the drawing work I had to choose to quiet the maples in the background to keep the focus on the pine tree.

I worked slowly today to finish the piece but not overwork it. Adding some color and then leaving the room, re-entering with fresh eyes.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Evening Light on Pines

"Evening Light on Pines"   16"x17" pastel on Uart paper toned with acrylic
I like to photograph my work when it's partially finished. The small format of the photograph helps you see the composition and what areas need to be simplified or the value changed.

I used my reference photograph from my trip yesterday to Natural Bridge. The evening light was streaming through the forest and illuminating the pine trees. Light was fading too quickly to set up for a plein air drawing so I knew I'd have to depend on the photographs.

Maple tree colors glowed on the right side and my challenge is to keep some of that glow but not let it distract from the light on the pine tree.  I know that my photos overexpose the lights and block up the darks, but I like strong contrast and that contrast helps focus on the pine tree. This is a drawing I don't want to overwork and I want to keep a lot of the colors fairly neutral to keep the focus on the light on the tree trunk.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Natural Bridge

"Natural Bridge 1"   8"x13" pastel on Uart sanded paper
"Natural Bridge 2"   8"x13" on Uart sanded paper
"Natural Bridge 3"   8"x12" on Wallis sanded paper
"Natural Bridge Vista"   8"x12" on Uart sanded paper

After the nasty weather passed I drove down to Natural Bridge State Park in Slade, KY and it was a beautiful late fall day with full sunshine.

Because I didn't get to stay overnight at the park my drawing time was limited so I concentrated on the main feature - the hugh sandstone arch.

The paper for the first two drawings was Uart sanded paper with an acrylic wash color of warm gray which I created to match the color Belgium Mist from Wallis. That is such a great color to go any direction with my drawings, (light or dark, warm or cool) but Wallis had significant manufacturing difficulties and my last order was on backorder for 3 months. Now I'm looking for an alternative "favorite". My other favorite is PastelMat but it's considerably more expensive than Uart.

The trail around Natural Bridge is steep and tree-covered and I had to set up very close to the arch. The underneath color of the arch was warm which doesn't show at all in my photographs of the arch. That's why I'm so hooked on plein air drawing. I can really see colors especially in the shadow areas. 

I'm not happy with the last drawing of the Natural Bridge vista. If I get time I'm going to try another with more expressive colors.

Natural Bridge State Park was the last park on my grant from the Kentucky Department of Parks. What a wonderful adventure of visiting all these beautiful places and I'm so grateful to Sam Devine from the Park Department for making the grant happen.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cumberland Falls Continued

"Cumberland Falls Morning" 8"x12" pastel

"Cumberland River Boulders" 8"x12" pastel

"Cumberland River Downstream" 8"x12" pastel

"Beech Trees Trail #12" 12"x8"

Wednesday at Cumberland River area brought sunshine, warm temperatures and lots of beautiful scenery.

Above Laurel Falls

"Above Laurel Falls" 8"x12" on Wallis sanded paper

"Above Laurel Falls" cropped on Wallis sanded paper

If you read my blogs you know during my plein air adventures I'm always waffling between recording what is there and creating a better piece of art. Composition is usually the culprit.

Autumn adds another dimension to the puzzle - color. Autumn in full color is like a cheap persian rug -- splashes of color all over the place. In my drawing from above Laurel Falls as it spills out into Cumberland River I am taken with the small waterfall splashing into the pool before tumbling into Laurel Falls. 

The first photographed drawing is as I recorded it but in the second photograph I have cropped out the small falls on the left of the drawing to improve the composition. However I'm still perplexed by the abundance of color.

Now that I'm back at my studio I'd like to work on this image again.

Next week I was suppose to go to Natural Bridge for my last state park visit but the weather is turning quickly from fall to winter. Rain and cold are not appealing so I'll wait and drive up on Saturday when it's suppose to be sunny and 62 to draw the Natural Bridge and Red River Gorge area.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cumberland Falls Autumn Views

"Cumberland Falls 1" 8"x12" pastel on Uart paper with acrylic wash

"Cumberland Falls 2" 8"x12" pastel on Uart sanded paper

"Cumberland Falls 2" close-up

My Kentucky State Park adventure continues with Cumberland Falls State Park which is a beautiful spot especially in autumn.

The first image was created on Uart sanded paper toned with an acrylic blue/green/gray wash. My favorite paper is Wallis Belgium Mist which is a warm gray color but Wallis has production troubles and my order has been on back order for 3 months so I'm experimenting with recreating the color I enjoy on a sanded paper. Uart 400 has a similar grit texture as Wallis and I think it actually holds the pastel better. Then, of course, the Wallis paper arrived the week before leaving for Cumberland Falls; so now I have both papers to compare. This blue/green/gray underpainting makes a nice complementary color to the warm fall colors.

"Cumberland Falls 1" was created first and I wanted to capture the essence of the falls without too many details.

"Cumberland Falls 2" was drawn from a spot further down river and the sun was starting to drop along the ridge top illuminating the autumn foliage. This one was only 1/2 finished when it was time to go to dinner so I rubbed out some offending details and left just the impression of the bright orange trees.

So now the problem. The foliage, especially the color, is a distraction from the point of interest - Cumberland Falls. So in "Cumberland Falls 3" I cropped out most of the foliage to see if the composition is improved.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fall Colors at Jenny Wiley State Park

"Dewey Lake Evening"  8"x12"  pastel

"Morning Hike Maples"  12"x8"  pastel

"Lakeshore Dewey Lake 1"  8"x12"  pastel

"Dewey Lake Reflections"  8"x12"  pastel

"Reflections at Jenny Wiley State Park Dewey Lake"
Large, loud bass boats cut through
the silence of the morning.
Wave to them with my middle finger.
Quiet reflections and
falling leaves float gently.
Boat waves gouge through the colors. 
Just fish guys
Stay put for awhile.
4 pound bass flops against the glassy lake top
Hide, big fish, hide.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Shaker Fields series

"Evening Fields 1"
"Evening Fields2"
"Evening Fields 3"
"Evening Fields 4"

"Evening Fields 5"
Working in a series allows the artist to explore images and ideas. In this series I'm working with the fields at Shaker Village from a perfect evening in June 2012. It's fun to loosely move around the colors and shapes.

After a terribly hot summer the fields are dried and the color is much more subtle....too subtle for my liking, but weather permitting I"ll be drawing at Shaker Village on October 27 while Shaker Village highlights their work with Nature Conservancy to restore the fields to the natural savannah of central Kentucky.

These new 12"x12" pastels will be available at St. James Court Art Fair Oct. 5-7. My booth is #911 on 3rd Street. Come see the originals and lots more.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pine Mountain State Park

"Pine Mountain Sunset" 8"x12" pastel on sanded paper
When we arrived at Pine Mountain State Park the misty rain had stopped. At dusk, the clouds lifted and the sunset glowed along with the lights of Pineville far below.

The next morning the sun shone on the old growth forest along Honeymoon Fall Trail and I thought, "wouldn't it be fun to create a triptych to emphasize the height of these trees." And so I set up on the edge of the creek. Thank goodness I didn't slip on the rocks and dump my whole set up into the creek. These are quick sketches that will need a bit of tweeking before they're ready for my show.
"Old Growth 3" pastel
"Old Growth 2" pastel
"Old Growth 1" pastel
"Honeymoon Falls" 12"x8"

Southeastern Kentucky received 4 inches of rain the day before we arrived, otherwise Honeymoon Falls would be dry since we've had a very dry summer. I've never been happy with any of my drawings of rocks but thanks to the influence of Albert Handell I approached this drawing with more confidence. Sometimes its best to not overdo a piece. Pick the correct color and stroke it on there.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

"Dale Hollow Cove" correcting

"Dale Hollow Cove" 8"x12" plein air pastel

"Dale Hollow Cove" correcting

"Dale Hollow Cove" final

This morning a dear friend and fellow artist dropped by my studio and I showed her some of my new "State Park" plein air pastels along with some of the larger studio pieces. When I asked her what she thought of "Dale Hollow Cove" she commented that she liked it but the bank on the left side seemed to be a problem. I also had stared at that part of the pastel wondering what was wrong and not having the nerve start making changes. Another set of eyes can be so helpful when you have a problem area with one of your pieces of artwork.

After Holly left, I thought "yes, she's right: so here I go."

I love how easy it is to change pastels on sanded paper by just rubbing the offending area with a paper towel.

The bottom image is the final, corrected image. I think the composition is better now that the offending bank isn't competing for attention with the bright green tree and reflection. One star and the rest supporting actors.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Morning vision - Greenbo Lake

"Greenbo Morning" 8"x12" pastel on sanded paper
Heavy moisture from last nights' rain gave atmospheric depth to the morning landscape at Greenbo Lake. "Greenbo Morning" is more closely aligned with what I saw at the lake this morning.
"Morning Lake Feelings" 8" x 12" pastel
"Morning Lake Feelings" is what I FELT this morning as I sat in my kayak and absorbed the stillness of the morning. I've said before that my challenge as a plein air painter is to interpret what I see in the landscape and not just try to copy. I waffle back and forth with each outing.
Wolf Kahn, one of my favorite contemporary artist, said to approach each painting as if you know nothing, so as I attempt to explain the landscape through pastels I try to figure out my focus. This morning I kept repeating, "how do I feel about this place?"
"Lake Shore" 8" x 12"
So back to the waffling. This scene is close to what I saw, but I was drawn to the scene because of the beginning of autumn touching the forest. I like this time of year. Later in fall when the forest is screaming with brilliant color, it's hard to keep my drawing from looking like a cheap persian rug -- way too many colors. Right now, autumn is more subtle.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Floating along on Greenbo Lake

I'm visiting Greenbo Lake State Park in Greenup, KY and floating along the lake in my kayak art boat. It's a bit tight quarters but nothing like it to feel the quiet, gentle movement of the lake. "Peaceful" is an understatement, especially with all the hubbub of life this month.

But before breakfast I hiked out to a cove area to watch the sunrise and record the colors in pastel.
Early morning colors are especially tricky. It seems the longer I work on the piece, the more colorful I make it and then I look away and then back again. Now I see the colors differently once again. I think your eyes adjust to the hazy colors. I'm going out tomorrow morning to try again.
"Morning Cove" 8"x12" pastel on Wallis sanded paper
It was time to hike back to the lodge for breakfast but the sun suddenly topped the ridge and illuminated  the woods behind me. So I sketched a quick drawing to try to capture the feeling of sunlight on the pine  trees along the trail. This one isn't even close to being finished but it may never be because I think it says enough.
"Pines along the Trail" 12"x8" sketch
After breakfast my husband drove me over to the boat ramp and helped me launch the kayak stuffed with all my pastels, paper, drawing board, water and lunch. Plus, my camera and the constant iPhone. Yes, I can get service on the lake which is great for posting my art activities on Facebook but awful when a junk call disrupts the quiet of the lake.
"Cove and boat dock" 8"x12" pastel on sanded pastel paper
The hillside is showing some color which connects it visually with the orange colors at the distant boat dock. I'm going back tomorrow morning to draw just the cove with the reflective colors. This drawing has too many points of interest and needs simplifying which is always a challenge for me especially when working en plein aire. So much information in full view!
"Greenbo Lake shore" 8"x12" pastel on sanded paper
Clouds began to gather and grow. I wonder if I should be heading towards the fishing dock.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Buckhorn Lake Sunshine

The sun came out at Buckhorn Lake State Park and we rented a pontoon boat with a shade cover and boated around the lake.
If you read my blogs you know I'm always in conflict about my plein aire drawings following too closely the composition and color provided by nature and not interpreting the experience enough - not adding enough of my own artistic license to the view.
This time I started out creating images pretty much as I see them as in "Overhanging Tree"
But then at the end of the day and after drawing the lake many time I finally got around to creating a more expressionistic version of the scene.-- "Sunset Impressions 2 & 3"
"Sunset Impressions 4" is more of a mix between realism and expressionism because nature provided an incredible sunset.
"Overhanging Tree" 8"x12" pastel on sanded paper

"Sunset Impressions 1" 8"x12"
"Sunset Impressions 2" 8"x12"
"Sunset Impression 4" 8"x12"

Monday, June 11, 2012

Buckhorn Lake Sunset

The weather forecast called for intermittent rain all day but as we drove to Buckhorn State Park some blue sky began to come and go.
After dinner we walked along the lake and I grabbed my pastels hoping the sunset would have a bit of color.
It didn't disappoint and, of course, an artist can always enhance mother nature's colors.

"Buckhorn Lake Sunset 1" 8" x 12" plein aire sketch

"Sunset Promise" 8" x 12" plein aire sketch at Buckhorn State Park