There is a certain enchanting beauty about a heavy snowfall on evergreens at the end of a winter’s day. I wanted to capture the peaceful quality of a northern Canadian landscape since this is where I’m from and we certainly have had a peaceful and long winter this year, which has brought several inches of snow although I am getting rather tired of the snow at this point in the year. This will probably be the last snow painting that I depict for a bit and plan on painting other subjects including a few spring landscapes if I can find the proper references or the wherewithal to paint.
I rarely talk about the actual application of the pastel however it might be interesting to some so…Many pastelists like to use harder pastels in the beginning and layer the softer ones over top however I don’t really like the hard pastel I have well enough to use them so I move straight to the Girault which are medium hard to the really soft one’s like Ludwig and Unison and keep layering until I either achieve what I want or I run out of layering surface. I don’t bother with an underpainting or anything fancy. It’s better to concentrate on things I need to work on improving such as the values changes, composition and color application.
Early on a Winter’s Evening
It’s the time of year when winter seems to be lessening it’s grip on this part of the world and the fluctuations of temperature are prominent and the atmosphere seems to soften and grow a little less frosty. I notice the soft apricot glow of the morning sunrise and wanted to capture that quality in the winter painting. I also like how the tree creates a nicely arching habit which creates an almost circular movement around the piece. I was also careful to simplify the color scheme to capture the subtle tonal value changes often seen in the winter months along with the soft light of early morning. This work is also about forms and how they relate to one another to create a sense of drama. I used artist quality pastels including Unison, Terry Ludwig and Girault on acid free Wallis Pastel Paper.
It Was a Cold Winter Morning, Pastel on Pastel Paper, 12×18″
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.
Sunrise Over the Lake, Soft Pastel on Pastel Paper, 9×12″
Lakeside by Twilight, pastel on paper, 14×18″
There is something that is so beautiful and tranquil about sunsets, I can’t help to paint them every now and then. I’m not really sure where this is but it reminds me of the lake I live near so I decided that this was good subject matter. I also really liked the warm pink and violet tones in the sky and tried to reflect and cool them in the water. I also liked the combination of the rock and shrubbery in the foreground and tried to bring a little detail into the picture. I used my usual combination of Unison’s and Ludwig’s on Colorfix Suede paper, which I’m starting to like better despite the lack of tooth to this paper.
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, 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
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
Ever since childhood, Wales UK has always held a certain appeal to me, something that I can’t easily explain but it’s always been there nevertheless. My mother’s family may have come from there originally but my own research points more in the direction of Yorkshire, England than Wales but the family migrated to Canada back in the colonial days so the history has probably gotten a little muddled. I watched BBC video about the old Megalithic standing stones of the UK and when the host started talking about the Welsh history and showing the exceptionally hauntingly beautiful and lonely landscape I knew I had to get a few stills and work from those.
This painting was based on Cerrig Duon in mid Wales and I left the standing stones out since I was more interested in capturing the feeling of the landscape and the beautiful sky at sunrise. Adding the rainfall over the hills was artistic license at work since I don’t believe that it was raining in the documentary; however, I’ve heard that it rains a good deal in that part of the UK so I’m probably not far from the truth. I used a fairly cool and low-key value system in the hopes of capturing the eerie feeling that I was picking up from the video. One day I’ll have to visit this place!
Rain Along the Hills at Sunrise, 12 x 18”, Soft Pastel on Wallis Pro White Paper