I love the Huon River in all it’s moods. Here it is on an overcast day , full of atmosphere and quiet beauty. The grasses and bushes on the river bank add another layer of interest and texture against the backdrop of misty mountains and gentle reflections.Here’s the reference photo to go along with my YouTube video .( If you want to paint along feel free to use this photo.)
Here’s the video.
…and here’s the pastel set I used ( along with a few Conte sticks for sharper details on the boat.)
Back from holidays and just recovering from the old jet lag which has really hit me this year. Still … I managed to find a few good hours to finish the painting I started 6 weeks ago. It’s always difficult painting an iconic location – the silhouette is so well known that it’s immediately obvious if you get it wrong! So here’s my attempt at the wonderful Cradle Mountain and sunset reflections in Dove Lake, which nestles at it’s foot.
I’ve been coveting a set of Terry Ludwig pastels for a very long time. The trouble is they are quite expensive and you just can’t buy them in Tasmania. So by the time I’ve added postage from the US the “quite expensive” has soared to stratospheric heights of extravagance.
When I retired The Writer kept urging me to spend a little something on myself as a reward for sticking it out so long. I drooled over the full set of Terry Ludwig hand made pastels for some time even going so far as to ADD TO CART to see what the postage was. The message re postage implied I would need to take out a second mortgage to have the 550 set of delicious, buttery, hand rolled pastels delivered to my door. I sighed and deleted from my cart.
Roll forward 3 months and once again I sat up late into the night poring over the various sets on offer. I agonised about the price but I’d just done a couple of commissions and the bank account was looking OK so I decided to choose a small set and treat myself – I don’t think I posted the Easter baskets painting here previously.
I really felt I was due a reward after all those people and baskets . The client sent a black and white photo and asked me to paint it in an Easter pastels colour scheme. I did a lot of googling to work out just what might have gone into Russian Easter baskets and can now give you a full run down from lamb shaped butter sculptures to the plaited Easter breads with baked eggs embedded in the plaits.
Anyway , suffice it to say a feeling of entitlement prevailed. I debated the relative merits of the general landscape set versus the basic values set and then settled on the violet collection before succumbing to the gentle call of the Richard McKinley landscape set.
I love bright colours and have a lot of them so this set wasn’t my first or natural choice but I kept coming back to it because this set is full of all those muted and soft colours of nature that can be hard to find. It’s going to fill a few gaps in my collection from the grey greens right through to the light hues of soft pinks and creamy yellows. I just love Richard McKinleys art and think I can learn a lot by using his chosen colours to add a little restraint to my vibrant palette. Here’s my first painting using just this box.
Already I love these pastels. It’s incredibly hard to find just the right colour for sage brush and here it was – right out of the box!
I’ll keep you posted on my new love affair with 60 square, yet soft and subtle, pastels.
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.
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!
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!
If you’ve seen many of my paintings you might think I only use brights. It’s true I’m a bit of a colourist and my hand naturally gravitates to those jewel bright sticks in my pastel box but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the muted pleasures of soft greys. Tonight I pulled out my box of Great American Artist greys to use in a small painting of a Tuscan evening sky and I didn’t miss those brights at all.
I’ve had this photo on my idea board for a while . It’s a quick snap I took a few years ago on a trip to Italy. We were driving home one night and the sky was just beautiful – full of soft pinks and mauves with a typical Tuscan farmhouse and cyprus trees silhouetted against it. Well – I took more than one snap that night but this is the one I’ve been thinking about lately. I’d planned to paint it fairly large but as I walked past my painting area a scrap piece of purple paper that looked just right caught my eye so I decided to go small and paint right then!
The photo doesn’t show much colour in the foreground so I wanted to up the colour there for a little more interest. The sky was the main inspiration so I planned to render that area fairly faithfully . The tree on the right didn’t seem to serve any purpose in the composition so I got rid of it. I decided on more contrast between the fields and the foreground bushes to add a bit more depth to the picture…and that was my planning process before I started painting.
This is a fantastic set of greyed pinks, blues, purples, browns and greens. They’re so useful for evening skies, soft shadows and understated subjects. These weren’t a cheap buy but I don’t regret a cent – they’re a must have in my collection. This is the set I used for tonight’s painting with the addition of a few darks. It’s surprising how few pastels you actually need to paint a subject like this.
I’m reasonably happy with this little 20 minute painting. It has a bit of verve, I haven’t overworked it, there are some lovely soft colours in the sky that give the glow I was looking for. True ,the house roof could do with a bit of quieting down and a few of the trees are looking a bit stunted , but overall I’m pleased with the results of my box of muted greys.
Having featured the reference photo for this painting in a previous post on Creating a series and again for the photography 101 Cropping assignment I thought I should post my first painting in a series I intend to do based on a single photo.
As part of a personal challenge I want to limit the painting time to 30 minutes and video them for my You Tube channel
Here’s the photo alongside the first painting and the video is in process.
Shadows on the beach
You’ll notice there are some major differences between the finished painting and the reference photo. I’ve ramped up the colours in the shadows which I’m pretty happy with although I think I might revisit and refine the shadow shapes a bit. The cliff is also a bit more colourful with some added orange accents that repeat in the reflections. The cliff slopes down a bit much on the left and needs a bit of a fix here as it tends to pull the eye out of the painting at this point.
What have I learned for next time?
Every painting teaches me something and when I go back for the next in this series I’ll be comfortable with the palette of colours I’ll be using. I’ll have noticed the tendency to let the cliff run out of the frame and will put a stop to that early! And I’ve made the trees a bit too orange so will nip that in the bud as well. Overall I’m satisfied – it was fun to paint, I kept to the 30 minutes, the shadows are nicely complex and I’m ready for the next one! I’ll keep you posted.
All paintings are available for sale in my Etsy shop unless marked as sold.