On Monday I headed down to Cygnet to drop off some paintings at an exhibition. It was a glorious sunny morning and The Writer was headed in the opposite direction to Port Arthur to take the Tasman Island cruise. I would have joined him but for the need to drop off the paintings and the fact that I’m such a bad sailor there was no way I was ever going to get on that boat! The waters down there can be pretty rough and the boat is a very bouncy ride – all adding up to a green and nausious experience for me which I preferred to avoid.
So, back to the Cygnet trip which was by road and much less bilious all round!
I packed the car with my painting kit, trusty Red Velvet (my camera) the paintings to be delivered and some lunch. This took a bit of time. Painting kit makes it sound like a small box you might fit your first aid items in-try imagining a 1940’s film star heading off on the Orient Express for a 6 week grand tour of Europe and you might get a glimpse of the magnitude of the packing job. I had acrylic paints, brushes, canvases, my field box of pastels, rags, charcoal, pencils, alcohol ( not the drinking kind- I’m driving!) paper, sketchbook, easel and a kitchen sink just in case I might need to wash up after the painting! Then I decided it wasn’t quite enough so I threw in the tripod in case I wanted to YouTube the painting.
Red Velvet got quite a work out on the way down. As soon as I hit the Huon River I was stopping every few minutes- the reflections were fantastic and the blackberries lining the road were ripe and luscious- so between the snapping there was a fair bit of berry browsing!
I often have trouble committing to a painting spot when I head off plein aire. I want the perfect subject , the perfect place for the easel, not too much traffic to disturb me and a bit of shade nearby. So I kept on driving and was very tempted by the reflections here…
but all the time I was thinking of Drip Beach so I kept heading south past more perfect reflections…
…and then I arrived. I love this small beach because it has such interesting shadows from the gum trees behind the beach. I’ve painted these shadows before and I thought I might try a different format this time…
I parked the car in the shade, hauled out the easel and set up. It was a lovely spot and I enjoyed being out in nature painting for a change. There were a few locals out walking their dogs and we exchanged greetings as they trooped on by. They stopped to check my progress on the way back and wanted to know if I was famous- not really- but they wanted my name anyway!
A couple of happy hours passed and here’s the result…
I’ve promised myself I’ll get out and about more this year and this was a good start!
I like to use my Samsung Galaxy tablet to view the reference photo on as I paint because it has great colour and I can zoom in and out for detail if I need to. I just hang it up next to my paper. Then I choose the boxes of pastels I’ll be using and set them out. I’m using my Unison Lights for the snow, a box of greens I’ve made up myself for the trees and some Sennelier Darks for any area that needs a punch of deep, dark colour. The Unison Landscape set is for extras I might need. I chose a purple/violet MiTientes TEX sanded paper and taped it to a foamcore board.
Next I sketch in the main composition lines with a white charcoal pencil and block in the main shapes with my harder pastels then wash them down with a watercolour brush dipped in alcohol.
Block in major shapes
Use alcohol to wash down
Add in other basic shapes.
Now I start working from background to middle to fore ground.
Finishing off with a snowfall.
I choose a few very light blues and a white. Holding the pastel above the painting which I’ve now laid flat I scrape lightly with the knife and a little shower of pastel dust falls onto the painting. I start with lighter blues and end with some bigger flakes of white for the closest snowflakes.
Choose a range of light blues
Scrape pastel with knife to release a snowfall!
Now I take a piece of greaseproof paper and place on top of the painting. Pressing down gently I move my hand in a circular motion to press the pastel flakes into the paper.
Finished painting and reference.
I was concentrating on the snow and didn’t realise that I sloped the paddock the opposite direction until I looked at it later. Doesn’t really matter as this was just a demo for my YouTube channel.
Why not use the reference photo and have a go at a snowy winter scene. It’s lot’s of fun. Send me a link to your painting.
This is a step by step tutorial on how to frame your pastel painting using a ready made chain store frame.If you choose a well made wooden frame you can save big dollars and still have a tastefully framed painting.
a ready made frame with a mat ( the opening to be slightly smaller than your painting) Check the corner joints are well formed with no gaps.
some mat board or foamcore offcuts
a sharp craft knife
a pair of scissors
acid free framing tape ( can be purchased from an art supply store)
a kitchen table knife
a lint free cloth
2 small screws
2 D rings
hanging wire the width of your frame plus 10 cms.
You can buy picture hanging kits from the dollar store which include the screws, rings and wire.
Step 1 – Remove the backing board using the kitchen knife to prise up the metal tacks flat against the frame.Take out the paper and mat. Make sure you place the mat on a clean surface!I like to use the paper insert from the frame as it’s just the right size.
Step 2– Check the frame for any damage. Especially check that the corner joints are smooth with no gaps. Check the glass to make sure there are no scratches.
Step 3 – Make a spacer frame. Cut four strips from your scrap board long enough and wide enough to make a frame that will sit approx 2cm in from the mat opening and 2cm in from the mat edge. You will make the scrap “frame”on the side of the mat that will be facing the painting.The spacer frame will allow any falling pastel dust to fall behind the mat keeping the front of the mat and the glass clean.
Step 4– Attach the spacer frame with the framing tape making sure the tape doesn’t show in the mat opening. You don’t need to tape over all the strips – just enough to hold them securely in position. You could also use double sided tape for this .
Step 5- Centering your painting on the backing board. Take the pastel painting and sit it on the middle of your backing board. Here I’m using a piece of foamcore cut to the same size as the MDF backing board I removed from the frame. You cam use the MDF board but if you do it’s a good idea to seal it first with a coat of varnish or gesso to prevent any acid in the MDF from causing discoloration of your painting in years to come.
Now place the mat over the painting to make sure only the painting is showing in the mat opening
Take a ruler and measure from the top of the mat to the horizon line on both sides to check you have the horizon level.
Once you’re satisfied with the painting placement remove the mat and tape the top of the painting to the backing board with a small piece of the framing tape. This stops it moving when you place the long strip of tape on.
Now cut a piece of tape long enough to cover the full length of the painting at the top and attach to the backing board.
Step 6– Placing the painting in the frame. This is the fiddly bit. As you’re doing this stage you need to constantly be checking for any stray pastel dust on the mat and the glass before you go onto the next step. This is very important!
Clean the glass with a lint free cloth ( I use glass cleaning cloth)
Lay the mat on the glass making sure the spacer side away from the glass and the metal tacks are all showing. You can use the knife edge to lever the mat in gently to get it to slip below the tacks.
Holding the painting on the backing board carefully place it face down on the mat
You might need to use the knife again to ease it past the tacks.
Use the flat of the knife to push a top and bottom edge tack flat onto the backing board.
Turn over and check carefully for any dust or stray specks on the glass or mat board. If you see any remove the painting , clean the glass and/or mat and replace. You can use a kneadable eraser to clean any pastel dust off the mat. Only when you are completely sure you have no unwanted dust should you move onto the next step.
Step 7- Taping the frame to keep moisture out. Turn the painting glass down . Take the framing tape and stretch it along the top edge of the frame just in from the edge.
Cut each end using the craft knife and gentle pressure.
If your frame back is flush with the backing board then start in the middle and carefully press the tape downand gently press as you move your hands out to each edge. Don’t worry if you get a few wrinkles- no-one will see it when it’s hanging on the wall! If the frame is above the level of the backing board as mine is just cut into the corners as below and then starting in the middle press the tape down into angle formed by the frame wall and the backing board.
Continue until all sides are covered.
I need to cover the small corner gaps now so I just cut a square of tape and place in each corner.
Step 8. Attach the hanging hardware. You will need 2 small screws, 2 D rings and some hanging wire. Notice that the D ring has a flat side and a curved side.
Repeat on the other side using a ruler to make sure they are at the same level.
You shouldn’t need to pre drill holes but if you do make sure to do it before you put the painting in as the vibrations will loosen the pastel dust and cause you grief!
Now stretch the wire across the painting to check the length is right. You should have a bit extra each side.
Run it through one D ring and pull it through a second time. Pull tight and tie off .
The excess is now wrapped tightly around the wire.
Repeat on the other side making sure to keep the wire tight.
Now just wrap the ends of the wire in a small square of the framing tape to keep all sharp ends covered.
I got such a positive reaction to my recent pastel painting of Adventure Bay that I did another for my Mum’s “World’s Greatest Shave ” fundraiser auction. There’s already been anabsentee overseas bid for it so I hope it does well for the Leukaemia Foundation on the night. This photo is on the dark side- need to hone up my photography skills a bit .
A friend saw the first pastel on Instagram and asked if I could paint a small canvas for her as it brought back lot’s of childhood memories of holidays spent at Adventure Bay.So I went ahead and painted this one today. I think it’s my favourite because of the lively colours in the shadows on the sand.
Then I decided to break out my new Schminke watercolours and try a large (for me) painting. I really only use watercolours for pen and wash sketches these days so this was a bit of an adventure. I did find I’d forgotten a lot of the techniques but was happy I’d remembered any to be frank! I like the reflections, the clouds are OK ,the shadows are too pink and the foilage is overworked.
It was interesting trying the same painting in pastels, acrylics and watercolours and made we want to brush up my watercolour technique and try a few more. We’ll see how that goes!
I’ve been wanting a day trip to Bruny Island all January but The Writer was hanging out for the perfect day. He was after all those blue sky and sparkling sea shots. I was all for just going and working with the weather! So last Saturday I got up early , packed lunch and said “Let’s go”- and off we went.
I have to say I was quite happy with a few clouds- I’ve got lots of sunny shots from previous trips . My first solo art exhibition was inspired by a day trip to Bruny on an astonishingly beautiful summers day and I was looking for a different, more moody side of the island. The early morning light was subdued and the water took on a silver sparkle.
I love this into the sun shot at the Neck and have already painted a small pastel using it as reference.
I added a little more colour and used a square format. I’m a bit of a fan of the square for small paintings.
The clouds came and went creating some interesting skies and reflections.
…and the water kept on sparkling.
The tidal flats had just enough shallow water to make for great reflections of the amazing clouds…
And finally the sun took over the day and we had a swim and a snorkle in the fairly chilly water at Coal Pt with it’s weathered rocks that have been wind blasted creating a myriad circular pockets in the rock.
Then off to Adventure Bay for a few shots in the bright sunlight to satisfy The Writer.
The lovely tracery of shadows on the sand inspired another painting…
All in all, another stunning day on this small island off an island.
My sister came up today and helped me rip off the old rusted roof from the Potter’s shed and replace with new colorbond sheets. It was a big job jemmying out the old rusted nails and power drilling in the new roofing screws while balancing on the wobbly ladder! But girl power prevailed and 6 hours later we had a new rain proof roof.
While we were ripping, banging and balancing someone bought one of my pastel paintings from my Etsy shop so that paid for half the roofing sheets. Happy days!
My kids get a good laugh ( I even laugh at myself) at how excited I am when I reach another small You Tube milestone. It took such a long time to reach the first 100 subscribers and I was counting up to the big 100 for days ( maybe even weeks!) then just 2 months later I’ve hit 500+. Am totally loving the chance to share my pastel techniques and help aspiring pastel artists out there. Love getting questions and thinking … “yes- I know the answer to that one!”
I have to admit I was doubtful that anyone would want to watch my offerings . There’s so many great art videos out there that it seemed unlikely mine would find an audience . I try to think how I felt when I started experimenting on my own with pastels, what I wanted to know, how long it took me to search out information and what kind of information would have helped me progress quicker at the beginning. Then I jotted down some headings and I’ve been slowly working my way through them. It’s not easy finding the time to make these videos and it’s been a steep learning curve coming to grips with editing them into some semblance of viewability but very rewarding to see people are watching and being inspired to try , or re-try, pastels.
I do know that 500 subscribers is very small fry compared to all those channels out there that are slick, posting everyday and going viral but I have to say my 500 are the most talented, discriminating and plain wonderful viewers on You Tube and more than make up for their small numbers by their discerning and insightful comments and the artful way they click the like button!
A big thankyou to everyone who has ever taken the time to watch , to comment and to share. I hope to hit 1000 by Christmas and plan to expand the types of videos I do next year as I have more time. Am thinking a painting on holiday series would be fun!
I had a rostered day off work today after a horror couple of weeks with equipment breakdowns that have played havoc with our work schedule. I love a RDO ! Unlike a weekend it’s all MY time! I can share it with The Writer if I choose but he never takes it for granted that I’ll go for a walk or sit down for a long conversation over lunch, which is a good thing, since I always have a long list of stuff I want to do on my precious day off.
Today I got up early and put on some washing , showered,had a quick breakfast and checked my email. Then I had a fun morning making some little felt phone pouches. They’re quick and easy but I did have to change the cotton colour quite a lot! I’ll be popping them into my Etsy shop later on tonight. Then I hung out the washing ,which I have to admit I forgot about!
Then I started a large pastel painting for an upcoming charity exhibition and made a good start. I’m happy with the water and sky. The rocks are coming along well- although I may knock the colour back a little in some places. There’s going to be a lone seagull in flight when it’s finished but I haven’t got that far yet. The photo’s not the sharpest as the cat was purring round my legs when I took it with the tablet and there’s a bit of camera shake going on but I was just too darned busy to break the schedule and get out the camera on the tripod.
Around one thirty my stomach reminded me to take a minute out for lunch so I made a sandwiched and then headed back to the studio. I kept working on those rocks for the next couple of hours until the chill reminded me to get the washing in. A few domestic chores, a quick flit to the shop for some butter and a foray into the bush for the greenery that I need for tomorrow nights decorations for a mid winter feast and it was time to put dinner on.
While dinner cooked I cut out snowflake templates stuck them to empty jars and then spray painted the jars white . Once the template came off I dropped in a tea light and voila! a safe and pretty candle for the table centers.
So by the time I would usually be heading in the door from work I’d managed to tick off a fair bit from my “to do” list!
I’ve unpacked the suitcase, done the laundry and distributed the gifts. I’ve settled back into work reacquainting myself with the myriad small disasters of the working day. I’ve rearranged the studio and tidied up a bit. So now there’s so more excuses for putting off starting on the post holiday paintings.
It might surprise you to know that as much as I love painting there’s something a bit daunting about sorting through my memories, masses of photos and all those small sketches I did and trying to distill the essence of the holiday that I now want to capture in larger pastel paintings.
Sometimes I absolutely know what I’m interested in. One holiday it was patterns- roof tiles, fields of different crops, rows of lavender, five metal jugs on a wall, bicycle wheels- stone fences-the list went on. Other times it takes a while for a them to emerge and this last Italian holiday was one of those.
When that happens sometimes I just decide to jump in and start painting whatever and see what develops. So here are my first three paintings and I think what might be developing is a visual essay on the varied landscapes of Italy.
When you live as far “down under” as we do, in southern Tasmania, it’s a long way to Europe and our usual approach is to whittle away at our wish list across 2 or 3 countries each trip. This holiday we spent 5 weeks in Italy instead of our usual 1-2 weeks and it really made a difference. We were able to stay a week each in four very different regions and explore a bit more in depth than we usually have time for and I think the vastly different landscapes, architecture and traditional work is what captured our interest. Of course this variety shouldn’t be a surprise given that the Italy we know today is a very recent entity .
A gentle morning landscape with mist rising over the Tuscan wheatfields, the emerald waters of Sardinia and snowcapped mountains reflected in Lake Arpy in the northern Italian alps – the start of a series celebrating the diverse landscapes of Italy.
I fell in love with pastels for their bright and glorious boldness but as our relationship developed I began to appreciate more and more the quiet beauty of the muted greys. So in this video I explore the more restrained colours that can help develop a more subtle mood.