Pine’s In the Mist

I love old growth forests and wish there were more of them left around and these two pine trees seem like they might be part of one such forest which is almost perceivable in the background through the mist. I used cool tones of greens, violets, blues and grays to capture the peaceful, lush , wet and somewhat haunting atmospheric mood of this scene.  I used Terry Ludwig and Unison pastels on Wallis Pro White Pastel Paper.

Pine's In  the Mist

Pine’s In the Mist, Pastel on Pastel Paper, 12×18″

Autumn Woodland Stream

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.

Bruce Trail, Ontario, Canada

Autumn Woodland Stream, 16×25″, Oil on Canvas


Autumn Birch Walk

Strangely I started this composition in oil pastel last fall and didn’t finish it since I didn’t like the paper; I also found that I didn’t find oil pastel suitable for landscape painting since the colours aren’t subtle enough. I had put it down and forgot all about it until I took a minute to look through my reference images for autumn themed paintings, and decided to use the old reference for a new soft pastel.

The colours don’t seem to be as bright this year, probably due to the dry summer, so I decided to tone the colours down in this one and make is more impressionistic. It seems that every landscape artist needs to attempt birch trees since they have such lovely bark although they aren’t my personal favorite. I hope that I managed to create a bit of depth in this painting which is something that can be difficult to do with woodland compositions; I also focused on conveying life energy and movement by using the pastel marks to create harmony with an almost musical quality.

I also used the white Wallis Professional paper which is indeed wonderful but not a toothy as the Belgium Mist and neither is as thick making it more likely to tear if you aren’t careful when removing the tape from the edges.

Autumn Birch Walk

Autumn Birch Walk   

Soft Pastel on Wallis Paper   12×18″

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.

>Grand River Gallery

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I wanted to share my latest bit of news, I have been accepted into my first gallery since picking up the art again. The Grand River Gallery is located in Caledonia, Southern Ontario, Canada, and is a lovely place to enjoy viewing beautiful work by several talented local artists. The owner, Rene Ariens accepted my pastel Woodland Path and my orchid portrait Lady Rothschild as part of his collection for the next few months. Be sure to drop by the gallery if you’re in the area.
The website: Grand River Gallery
Woodland  Path

Woodland Path

Lady Slipper Orchid Portrait

Paph Lady Rothschild

 

>First Two Works with Soft Pastels

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After growing tired of using those scratchy hard pastels I decided to try the softer varieties and after much research about the health hazards and a good deal of colour and value comparisons I ordered Unison and Terry Ludwig landscape sets. The Unison’s are as wonderful as expected and the Ludwig’s are even better if you like their soft fluffy texture. I’m finding that the harder Unison pastels work better under the softer variety since they can lift the super soft pigment right off. 

I also tried the Belgium Mist Wallis paper and the Ampersand Pastelbord and love both surfaces for entirely different reasons. Wallis is a super toothy sand paper that can take ridiculous amounts of pastel which does appeal to the oil painter within. The Pastelbord on the other hand is far more akin to drawing on paper with a little more tooth and I think it would work very nicely for oil pastel and pencil art if you really like to layer those colours. However, it works wonderfully for soft pastel as well but it won’t take as many layers and neither does it faithfully hold onto the pastel making far more likely to smudge. 

I also love working on a hard surface so I will mount a sanded paper on foamboard or some kind of non-warping surface and try Richard McKinley’s wet-underpainting technique. This should also make framing much easier since I can bypass that dreaded matboard thing and all the related gadgets.
  Here is my first soft pastel on Wallis:
Spring Creek 12×18″ Pastel on Wallis
And my first pastel on Pastelbord:
Woodland Garden Path 11×14″ Pastel on Board