I live near a wetlands area connected to the river system and a large lake so there are many different forms of interesting wildlife in this area too that this precious habitat supports. I wanted to capture the essence of this natural setting in one of my few wetland paintings and the first one that I have done of this type of landscape in the winter season. In fact I seem to be exploring the theme of water and wetlands in the winter season just lately and have completed three pastel paintings describing this type of habitat in the snow.
I have discovered that I like working on small seascapes and enjoy the simple, smooth strokes and planes of color involved with the subject matter instead of the more highly textured and detailed forest painting that I normally create. I really like the soft pink in the colours and the soft focus of this painting as well. I used my favourite artist quality pastels mainly Unison and Terry Ludwig pastels on Wallis Pro White Pastel paper which as a sanded surface so that it can hold the pastel dust better and prevent it from falling off.
I’ve been away from my blog most of the winter but I’ve been busy painting in both oil and pastel and finally had a somewhat decent and sunny day when I could photograph a couple of my painting. It’s been a frustrating winter for me artistically and physically since I’ve been unwell on and off for much of it and found myself in a creative rut where everything that I did was less than satisfactory; however, I did manage to complete one landscape painting that I’m mostly happy with, called Autumn Woodland Stream.
This painting is composed from a couple reference pictures that I found of the Bruce Trail near Hamilton, Ontario. I used to have the odd opportunity to hike along the beautiful woodland along the Niagara Escarpment and have happy memories of those years during my 20s. I did a few value studies and compositional sketches before starting the first block in. All in all there are probably 3-5 layers of oil paint since I used thinner transparent colours to create what I hope is an interesting surface for the painting, than I added details in key areas where I want the viewer’s eye to travel. I also created several visual pathways using value changes and hopefully well placed tree branches to create a semi dramatic atmosphere in an otherwise quiet woodlot. I hope that I’ve managed to capture a sense of the sacredness of the forest, the water and all its creatures.
For all those pigment fanatics, I used W&N artist’s Titanium white, yellow ocher, cadmium orange, cerulean blue, cobalt blue, burnt sienna and Old Holland, Zinc White, Persian red and French Ultramarine Blue Light Extra (which is great for those darker violets). I’ve starting painting a few studies using pigments by Blockx, Michael Harding and Old Holland and will probably leave W&N behind since the higher quality paint have a much better pigment load resulting in better luminosity and intensity then the cheaper pigments. The Michael Harding Cobalt blue and Blockx Yellow Ocher are both especially nice, I will be trying more pigments by these two companies in the future. And Old Holland can’t be beat, I adore their FUB and Red Iron Oxide (Persian/Indian Red), together they create a lovely natural mauve, you just need to be careful that you don’t blow the blue out of the water with the super dense Persian red.
For some reason the photo seems to be flattening the composition; in reality, the actual painting seems to have more depth but at least the colors are more or less correct. Camera + painting = frustration.
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.
The whole story can be read here:
You can see the other excellent artists who have been selected here:
As well as the online art gallery:
Living near Lake Erie has given me an appreciation of the beauty and sometimes violet nature of the lake, but it’s always been the sunsets that are the most dramatic. For some reason I never seem to have the camera with me at the right moment so when I saw a friend post a picture of a sunset along the lake on her Facebook page, I just had to ask her if I could use it. Thank you Tracy!
I also tried a new surface with the Colorfix Supertooth paper and like it well enough since it allows for a couple more layers of pastel and it has a much softer texture; however, it doesn’t go as far as Wallis Paper. Pastels include the usual Unisons and Ludwigs and the under drawing was done using Faber-Castell pastel pencils. I also used a few of the very warm colors in the Ludwig Plen Air set to make those shadows in the foreground vibrate. I probably took the greatest amount of time trying to recreate that dramatic sky leaving me to wonder why something as soft and simple looking as a sky can be so complicated. This must be the smallest pastel work that I’ve done yet and have to say that it’s great to have a piece that I actually like that isn’t so large and didn’t take so many hours to complete.
Soft Pastel on Colorfix Supertooth Paper 9×11”