Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gold and Blue

Some time ago I bought a large number of handmade cotton rag paper with the intent of using it for pastels.  It has an interesting texture, wonderfully torn edges and comes in 25 colors.  When I got caught up in oil painting this spring, the paper was forgotten.  It sat neglected in a drawer for many months until a studio clean up this summer brought it back to light.

At the time, the winter wheat was ripening and the contrast of golden yellow with bright blue skies was irresistible and this paper seemed perfect for it.  There are two of them right now, and since they seem to make a pair I mounted them together on a piece of matboard to show of the edges.  Both are currently available in my etsy shop.

Top: Through the Fields 8 1/2x11 pastel, copyright 2013
Bottom: Turning to Gold 8 1/2x11 pastel, copyright 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Turning 75

Every fall the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors has its annual members show.  Most years it has a suggested theme with a special award.  This year the theme was "75" in honor of the organization's 75th anniversary.

Themed shows are a bit of a struggle for me, especially when they are open to interpretation.  I can be rather literal-minded, so figuring out how my rather traditional works fit into a theme can be a head scratcher.  This time though, I decided to just go ahead with a very literal interpretation.

Interstate 75 is a major highway that passes just west of downtown Dayton and is prominent feature of the city.  When heading into Dayton (including the DSPS gallery), we usually take US 35 - the interchange between the two is quite impressive.  US 35 passes underneath I75 and the ramps curve and soar overhead in a dance that always fascinates me as I pass through.  Unfortunately I am usually driving, making it impossible to grab a decent photo.  Thank goodness for Google StreetView, which gave me just the inspiration I was looking for.

I had some fun with this one, and a lot of reworking to get the perspective right (if a bit exaggerated), but it was an enjoyable experiment.  It didn't win any awards, but it did turn some heads.

Approaching Interstate 75 16x20 pastel, copyright 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Back in the Saddle

My blog has been ignored lately, and for that I apologize.  It has been a crazy six months as I have a tendency to overcommit myself to non-art.  I've also been focusing on my Facebook page, since I am often on there anyway talking with geographically scattered friends and relatives.  And while Facebook has been attracting a lot of views, this blog seems to be attracting mostly spam.  But Facebook has its limitations; the biggest one being that it is difficult to "follow" if you are not on Facebook.  But I'm willing to try again for those loyal few who are legitimately following this blog and who justifiably have a dislike for social media.

Let's start with some more recent pastels, and then I'll work backwards a bit, interspersed with new works as they come along.

It's common for pastelists to mat their work, which means we often have scraps and bits of mat board just sitting around in a pile.  Another artist whose blog I follow, Karen Margulis, has said that she often uses scraps for quick studies and sketches, so I decided to give that a try.  I had two long narrow pieces in a warm dark grey that would work for panoramic scenes.  Here are the results:

Dormant 5x14 pastel, copyright 2013

End of Summer 6x16 pastel, copyright 2013

Turns out, this shape suits me quite well!  They ended up more as finished pieces than sketches but I am quite pleased with the results.  I'll admit to giving myself a little pat on the back for the snow scene in particular.  It can be a bit of a challenge to work out the composition on unusually shaped pieces, so I played around with cropping the reference photos first, then sketched them in charcoal and dark pastel until I was happy.  After that they almost painted themselves.

The Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors has an annual invitational for new members each December, I've decided that the snow scene will be one of my entries.  The next challenge will be getting a custom frame!