Scotland’s Stalker Castle

There is something about castles that appeal to me, perhaps is their antiquity then there is the romantic concept too. Sometimes I think that I’ve lived in a castle in a past life and can almost remember these old stone walls and stairways. I found a picture of Stalker Castle which is located in Scotland and just had to paint it although I don’t usually paint buildings. The land around the castle is lovely too with a kind of haunting serenity that calls to me. I used Terry Ludwig and Unison pastels on Wallis Pro White Paper in the 12×18 size.

Scotland's Stalker Castle

Scotland’s Stalker Castle,
Pastel on Paper, 12×18″

Rustic Woodland Cabin

I decided that I wanted to paint something with a little more color so this one fits the bill even if I am doing an autumn painting in the spring.  I love the dark red of the tree contrasted with the browns, greens and golds around it. I don’t usually paint buildings but sort of liked this one so opted to include it, I probably need to practice painting buildings a little more but this is so far away and it’s festooned in foliage that I can overlook it. I used Ludwigs and Unisons on Colorfix Suede Paper. I couldn’t get the camera to co-operate with the lighting so the picture is a little dark and the colors are a little dull.

Rustic Woodland Cabin

Rustic Woodland Cabin, soft pastel on paper, 14×18″

Autumn Marsh

Autumn Marsh

Autumn Marsh, Pastel on Wallis, 9×12″

I was going through my computer files and found this painting that I did a couple months ago and forgot to post about it. I worked from a reference photo that I bought from Johannes Vloothuis and really liked the composition and decided to liven it up with some bright rusty oranges and golds to create an inviting scene.  I tried to play with different mark making techniques to bring energy and interest. The picture reminds me of many a fall scene around here in Southern Ontario.

This is the original photo:

IMG_4491 (2)

Wetlands Study

Living near the Grand River has given me an appreciation of the beauty and serenity of the wetlands and all the wonderful species that rely on the wetlands. The reference picture could be anywhere but it reminded me of this area and I loved the evergreen trees since they have so much character. I was growing tired of dominantly blue skies, so I painted this one mainly a pretty shimmery pink which didn’t translate through the camera so well, neither did the trees. Cameras and artwork just don’t always cooperate with each other so well. This was meant to be a quick study using a new surface that I created from Colorfix primer on Canson Board, and have to say that I’m very happy that the container is now gone and only three more Colorfix surfaces left to deal with before I can say a final ‘so long’ to this surface. I’ll be very happy to return to Wallis and Uart for my pastel surfaces. I used my usual Unison and Ludwig combination of pastels.

Wetlands Study

Wetlands Study, Pastel on Board, 9×12″

Early Spring Morn

It was time to paint a larger pastel landscape, in fact it’s probably the largest that I’ve done to date. With spring just around the corner it seemed time to create a pastel landscape based on my river/trees theme and I wanted to feature both deciduous and coniferous trees. The cooler pinks, violets, yellows and greens seem to be the best choice for a softer spring color selection. I also used low key values since the sun is just thinking of peeking over the trees on a cool overcast spring morning.

Early Spring Morn

Early Spring Morn, Pastel on Wallis Sanded Paper, 18×24″

This is the original picture; I decided that there was just too much water in the foreground and the composition was just too symmetrical so I cropped it:

Original Reference Photo

Original Reference Photo

I used Wallis Belgium Mist which certainly does take many layers of color providing a chance to create a rich and textured tapestry of color, something only the Belgium Mist will allow. I hope Kitty Wallis will continue to make this paper for years to come.

The original reference picture came from a collection of high quality photo’s that I downloaded from Johannes Vloothuis for a minimal fee of $20. He has over 700 pictures of various landscape scenes and buildings including scenes from Mexico and Cape Cod. Worth checking out especially if you’re as bad at finding pictures with a descent composition to work from as I am: http://www.improvemypaintings.com/Reference%20Photos.html

Curry’s Art Auction for Dystonia

I’m happy to announce that I have two pastel landscape paintings that have been included in Curry’s Charitable Art Auction benefiting Dystonia to be held at the Liberty Grand in Toronto on October 25, 2011.

Springtime Reflected

Springtime Reflected

Late Afternoon Along the Grand River

Late Afternoon Along the Grand River

The whole story can be read here:

http://www.mississauga.com/what%27s%20on/article/1219086–art-auction-celebrates-100-years

You can see the other excellent artists who have been selected here:

https://www.currys.com/generic.htm?ECINFO=AUCTIONPREVIEW1

As well as the online art gallery:

https://www.currys.com/generic.htm?ECINFO=ONLINEGALLERY

The Green Walk

I think it’s funny how artists always say that it’s bad to use too much green in landscape paintings and yet green is one of Nature’s dominate colors;  seemingly, the color of life. It’s is also one of my favorites (perhaps it’s the gardener in me) therefore I decided to break with conventional wisdom and paint a landscape using green as the dominate theme. Sometimes you just need to do things the way you want since art begins with the artists and it is an expression of those artistic desires. I worked from a picture that I had taken near the Grand River in late spring before the terribly dry summer really kicked in so perhaps this is an expression of what summer needed to be instead of what we got.

I used Terry Ludwig and Unison Pastel on Wallis Belgium Mist paper.

Click to Enlarge

The Green Walk, Soft Pastel on Wallis Paper, 18×12”

The Old River Tree

It’s been awhile since my last post I see…guess this means that it  has been summer break time…or at least that’s my excuse. However, I’ve been busy at the pastel easel and have completed some new work including this one.

We decided to stop along the Grand River in Cayuga, Ontario on our way back from delivering some work to the gallery, so I took the opportunity to snap a few shots of the river for reference images. I loved how the gnarled willow tree was growing over the river like an old woman stretching after waking from a long nap. The bark was deeply creviced and the leaves and branches allowed the light to travel through creating a lace-like appearance. The sky was partly overcast lending a silvery appearance to the still waters of the Grand which is something I hope that I’ve managed to capture in this painting.

I used mostly Ludwig’s with a few Unison’s on Belgium Mist Wallis paper. For the darker tree trunk and branches I  used the lovely warm brown pastel BE#6 that came with the Unisons Landscape Set of 72, it is the most wonderful rich velvety brown a pastel artist could ever want.

The Old River Tree

The Old River Tree 12×18″ Pastel on Wallis Paper

I’ll post my newer work over the next couple weeks.

Late Afternoon at the Grand River

Another trip to the Grand River with my camera and several less than impressive photo’s later and I managed to get something I could crop into submission to create a somewhat decent reference photo.

The original picture:

Grand River, Dunnville, Ontario

Grand River

The Cropped Version:

Grand River, Dunnville, Ontario, Canada

Grand River Cropped

Soft Pastel Landscape, Grand River Ontario

Late Afternoon at the Grand River

And my final pastel painting. I changed the basic shapes of the shrubs to make them more abstract and I also simplified the trees so it was a little less busy and moved the shore line to make the line more interesting and musical.  Once happy with the layout, I sketched the landscape in with hard pastels/pencils then blocked in the basic masses, followed by the more time consuming details.  My materials included Faber-Castel Pastel Pencils, Nu-Pastels (hard), Unison and Terry Ludwig Soft Pastels on Wallis paper which has become my favourite pastel surface.

>Springtime Along the Grand

One of those ideal spring days arrived and I had the opportunity to take several photographs of the Grand River. After sorting through my less than wonderful assortment of pictures I decided to settle on one in particular showing the bridge and a few buildings along the opposite shore.  I played around with the composition and finally decided that I didn’t want any man-made structures involved so this doesn’t act as a correct interpretation of the local, but I prefer my work to have little or no presence of human habitation.  However, mostly I just liked the simplified version, the bridge and buildings just made things too busy.

The original image:
Grand River

Grand River

 My Interpretation:
Late Afternoon at the Grand River

Springtime Along the Grand River