I Always Come Back to Landscapes in Pastel
I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to do non-objective paintings, and they always turn out to be landscapes! I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to paint with acrylic or watercolor, and I always go back to using soft pastels! I guess I should just be myself, and stop trying to do what everyone else is doing.
My favorite subject is the landscape — could be Arkansas’s rivers, mountains, lakes, farm lands and fields, houses, bridges, roads, rocks, forests, majestic trees or their roots; it makes no difference. It’s what I love. At one time, I did a lot of plein air painting, but I haven’t done that in a while. Instead, I take my camera with me as I walk the paths of my home town or travel from town to town; take vacation trips to places like Charleston, Martha’s Vinyard, or Portland, Maine. I must have a zillion photos of landscapes that I want to experience in pastel.
Yes, soft pastel! It’s always been the easiest medium for me. I like to hold the stick broadside in my hands and be able to swipe across the sanded paper, or use the point of the stick to make drawing lines on top. The colors are there for me to use – I don’t have to mix them to get the right color. They are intense, dull, gray, brilliant, sizzling, and/or calming. I can layer on top of a watercolor or ink underpainting, or I can start with a hard pastel underpainting and dissolve it with water or turpenoid. I can use local color, complementary colors, or really intense colors for the underpainting and then layer other pastels on top. Sometimes, the painting just paints itself! What fun!
Here are a few photos of my latest pastel landscapes. I tried to show the mood of late afternoon/twilight landscapes — the time of day when everything is shutting down and the hectic, busy times are over. Time to go home and rest. I call this style “Romantic Realism” because of the emotional content. These paintings are part of an exhibit named “Where the Sky Kisses the Earth” that will be at the Searcy Art Gallery August 5-September 21. The opening reception is August 6, Saturday from 1-3 pm. I will be there; I hope to see you there as well!
This watercolor painting titled “With Strings Attached” recently won the Bronze Award at the Arkansas League of Artists Spring Members’ Show at the Cox Creative Center in downtown Little Rock. It is on 300 # cold-press Arches watercolor paper and framed to 29 x 37.” I don’t usually paint in watercolor, and this was not an easy piece for me to create. I saw the aprons hanging in a studio at the Arkansas Arts Center, and thought they would make a pleasing composition with some alterations on my part. I tried to create visual interest and movement by varying the colors, patterns,, and sizes of the aprons and shirts. It was quite a challenge! This same piece won the Wiggins award at the MSW Annual Competition at the Arkansas Arts Center and 1st place at the Stuttgart Grand Prairie Arts Festival in 2015. The show at the Cox Creative Center will hang until April 30.
Currently on display, one of my pastel paintings was juried into the Wichita Pastel National Show in Kansas — the same piece won 2nd place at the Delta Arts Festival in Newport this year. From April to May 11, I have 3 artworks at the Conway League of Artists Show at the Faulkner County Library in Conway. In addition, a charcoal drawing of my husband’s arms will be published in the Art Coffee Table Book of Arkansas Hospice. Date of publication is unknown at this time.
If anyone is interested, I still have a few copies of my book about the Argenta Historic District Available. Contact me through my website or on Facebook.
I spent two weeks painting these six “word portraits” to take with me to the Delta Arts Festival in Newport last week, and not a one sold! Guess I thought others would like the words of scripture displayed in their house. I was inspired by my priest’s chasuble he wears Sundays in ordinary time. It says “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY” across the front. At any rate, here are the images — the acrylic paintings are 11 x 14″ and I’ll sell any of them for $25. The embellishments are symbolic – at least to me! Might make nice gifts — who knows! Comment if you like them, please
THE NORTH LITTLE ROCK HISTORY COMMISSION WILL BE SHOWING MY PEN AND INK DRAWINGS OF STRUCTURES ON THE NATIONAL HISTORIC REGISTER DURING THE ARGENTA ARTWALK FEBRUARY 19 FROM 5-8 PM. MY BOOKS ABOUT THE ARGENTA NATIONAL HISTORIC DISTRICT WILL ALSO BE FEATURED: I WILL BE THERE TO SIGN PURCHASED COPIES. YOU CAN ALSO ORDER LIMITED EDITION PRINTS OF THE DRAWINGS DURING THAT TIME. AS YOU KNOW, MY PEN AND INK DRAWINGS ARE CAREFUL AND DETAILED, AND THE IMAGES IN THE BOOK ARE OUTSTANDING. I’LL TELL YOU JUST WHY I DECIDED TO START THIS 3 YEAR LONG PROJECT AS WELL! PLEASE COME BY AND VISIT.
The book on my Argenta project is finally printed! It contains images of the 25 pen and ink drawings I did of Argenta buildings, plus the history of the region, each building, and architectural facts. The book is 8 x 9.5″ and sells for $34.49 at http://www.blurb.com/b/6631540-the-argenta-national-historic-district, plus shipping. At present, you can get it from me for $35 (I’m not making a dime on it)! Let me know if you’re interested; I’m always willing to sign the frontspiece for you!
Here are some other images from the book:
Knowing about how to use linear perspective doesn’t mean that you have to be a slave to it. Using the principles of perspective in drawings and paintings that include buildings, posts, roads, etc. can become an internal knowledge that makes your artwork more realistic. However, some artists like to distort reality and in doing so, distort perspective as well. De Chirico is a prime example of this. Some contemporary artists do this as well: (from Artist Magazine, June 2010).
But here’s another way to use perspective creatively — an imaginary residence high up in the sky! This drawing uses 4 vanishing points — all related. The vanishing points are on vertical and horizontal lines. Try this in your sketchbook to work out your “dream house”!
If you have drawn the country home that I showed last post, you may be ready to add an addition or a porch to your drawing. Hopefully you have put in some windows, and maybe a chimney using the same converging lines to the vanishing points. All you need to do to add a porch or extension is to bring a corner post forward and use the same vanishing points and vanishing traces to add the roof. To add a center door, remember to make the x from each corner of the rectangle to find the center, and then position the door in the center. Steps could be added in the same way. A walkway that is parallel to the horizon line can also be added as per example. To make the fence posts and fence, follow this sequence: Decide where you want the corner post and draw it in as a vertical shape. Draw converging lines to the vanishing points from the bottom and the top of the corner post. Establish the second post arbitrarily when you’d like it to be using the converging lines for the top and bottom. Now, make an X from point to point of the first and second posts. This determines the center point between each post. From the center of the X, draw another line to the vanishing point. Then draw a diagonal line from the top of the first post through the middle of the second post. Where that line crosses the bottom converging line is where to position the third post. Continue drawing the rest of the posts in the same way, and do the other side the same way. Elaborate the posts any way you wish, but you have fenced off your country property! Remember to add trees and shrubs to make it homey…
Let’s try to draw an imaginary country home using the concepts of two-point perspective. Here are the steps I used:
- On a large *18 x 24″) sheet of drawing paper, draw a horizon line and select two vanishing points as far away on the page as you can. Then draw the front corner of the house approximately 2″ tall. Draw vanishing lines from the top and bottom of this line to the vanishing points on the left and the right.
- Your imaginary house in this case will face to the right. Draw vertical lines to establish the length and width of the building. You have made a box similar to what we did before.
- On the wide part of the box, draw diagonal lines from corner to corner to find its center. Extend a vertical line through this center point and extend it about 1 1/2″ above the top of your box. This will define the height of the gable end of the roof.
- Connect the top of the gable with the vertical sides of the box at both ends, extending just a little beyond the side to make your eaves.
- Now draw a converging line from the gable peak to the left vanishing point. This is the top of the roof.
- What about the back side of the roof? To get this point, extend a vertical line from the right vanishing point all the way up as far as you can on your paper.
- From the left corner of the facing side, extend a converging line all the way up the left side of the gable until it meets extended line you drew from the right vanishing point. Make a dot where these lines meet — this is called a vanishing trace. Where it intersects the top of the roof is where your roof ends.
- Extend a roof line a little beyond your left house end to make the roof. From this point, draw a converging line to the vanishing trace. Where it intersects the roof line is the end of your roof.
- So far, you have made a box-type house with a gabled roof. You can make some windows on one side if you wish like you made windows in the indoor examples. Next post, I’ll discuss how to make a front porch, a walkway, and a fence enclosing the property!
Draw a rectangle 8″ high and 10″ wide in the middle of your large drawing pad. Draw your eye level a little above center so that you will have a lot of floor to play with.
Set your left and right vanishing points.
Close to the middle of your rectangle, draw a vertical line about 2″ long — this will be the corner of your room.
To draw the ceiling, connect a line from the top of that corner to the left vanishing point and a line to the right vanishing point.
To draw the floor, connect a line from the bottom of the corner to the left vanishing point and another to the right vanishing point. Do you see the floor and the ceiling now?
On one wall, draw a window and make sure your tops and bottoms are parallel — use the vanishing points. Draw the window casing as well, if you can. If you want, you may draw a door in the other wall as well.
To draw the floor tiles in 2-point perspective, measure off 1″ marks on the floor line from the corner of the room along the wall. Do this on both walls. You will have to extend your floor lines all the way off the paper in order to make all the tiles.
From each of those points on the floor line, draw converging lines to the vanishing points. If you do this on both walls, you will have tiles that grow smaller and smaller as they go back in space. You can darken every other one of these so that you can see the pattern.
I know this is difficult — I hope you understood my directions. Please let me know if I need to explain it further. We’ll draw a house in a landscape for the next lesson in perspective.
HERE’S AN EXERCISE YOU CAN TRY TO UNDERSTAND 1 POINT PERSPECTIVE INSIDE A BUILDING.
INTERIOR SCENES ARE MUCH DIFFERENT FROM EXTERIOR. PRETEND THAT YOU’RE IN A SMALL ROOM LOOKING AT THE BACK WALL –THERE IS EITHER A WINDOW OR A PAINTING ON THAT WALL, AND IT IS SEEN HEAD-ON. IN YOUR SKETCHBOOK, DRAW AN 8″ SQUARE IN THE CENTER OF THE PAPER. THEN DRAW A 4″ SQUARE EQUI-DISTANT FROM ALL SIDES WITHIN THE 8″ SQUARE. PRETEND THIS IS THE BACK WALL OF YOUR ROOM. DECIDE WHERE YOUR EYE LEVEL IS AND DRAW A HORIZONTAL LINE INTERSECTING BOTH SQUARES. SELECT A VANISHING POINT ON YOUR HORIZON LINE. NOW DRAW CONVERGING LINES FROM THAT VP TO THE CORNERS OF THE BACK WALL (NOT THE CORNERS OF THE SQUARE – NOTICE). DRAW DOORS, WINDOWS WITH CONVERGING LINES THAT MEET AT THE VANISHING POINT. NOTICE THAT YOU CAN ONLY SEE THE FRAMING OF WINDOWS/DOORS ON THE BACK SIDE.
TO DO THE TILE FLOOR MEASURE OFF 1/2″ DIVISIONS ON THE BACK WALL EXTENDING BEYOND YOUR SQUARES IF YOU CAN. DRAW CONVERGING LINES TO THE VP FROM THESE POINTS. THIS GIVES YOU THE ANGLES OF BOARDS OR TILES PERPENDICULAR TO THE SIDE WALLS. NOW, IF YOU WANT SQUARE TILES, START AT THE BASE OF YOUR PICTURE PLANE (THE 8″ SQUARE) AND MEASURE OFF 1″ UP AND DRAW YOUR FIRST HORIZONTAL LINE (THIS IS CALLED A TRANSVERSAL).
NOW, CONTINUE TO DRAW DIAGONALS ACROSS THE FLOOR FROM THE INTERSECTIONS OF THE CONVERGING LINES. CONTINUE IN THE SAME MANNER TO MAKE CHECKERBOARD TILES. DARKEN ALTERNATE TILES SO THAT YOU CAN SEE THE PATTERN. ERASE THE LINES YOU NO LONGER NEED.
I REALIZE THIS WILL BE DIFFICULT FROM A WRITTEN EXPLANATION. I USUALLY DEMONSTRATE THIS IN MY CLASSES, AND STUDENTS FOLLOW ALONG AS I DRAW. LET ME KNOW IF YOU CATCH ON TO THIS OR NOT. A TWO-POINT INTERIOR SCENE IS NEXT!