A Landscape in Pastel

Snowy landscape in soft pastel
Snowy Sunset

Welcome back to this art journey I’ve undertaken. After completing the flower pieces I talked about previously, I decided to try my hand at a landscape/sunset piece. I really love a good sunset and love to take photos of them as you are likely aware if you have followed along for awhile now, so I figured it would be a good subject choice.

I managed to do a few things right, and well, more things wrong. I feel it lacks a the flow of the land in the first snow covered field just behind the trees. The next field, where snow lays between rows of harvested corn stalks is a bit too dark. I do find the snow covered hills far off in the distance visible through woods and tree lines turned out nice. The sky has some nice colors but overall the blues I used were way too dark in comparison. They should be lights and be in the upper half of the color values but here they are darker than some foreground elements.

I mostly was happy with the piece though as overall it is pretty representative of the initial photo I was using as a reference. I chose a light blue hued pastel paper figuring it would show through for the sky better but the paper is so toothy I had to fight to cover the blue elsewhere in the image. If you look at the trees in the foreground you can see it showing through so I felt I was fighting the paper the whole way through. After I finished this piece I went searching on google for some additional information on pastel and landscapes. [Who asks for directions before you get lost? 😉 ]. I happened upon a wonderfully informative learning blog: Landscape Painting in Pastels by Deborah Secor. There is a wealth of information on painting landscapes using pastels with topics from additional helpful tools, how to select good pastels, and which surfaces work well. She discusses technique in laying down the pigments and points on various landscape elements. The site even provides the entire tutorial set as a PDF download free of charge! Thank you Deborah!

In the chapter on surfaces to use there was a segment on the very paper I have here at hand, which she expects most pastel artists use at least briefly in their art simply because it is affordable and readily available. This is cotton pastel paper in various shades by Canson, of which I have the 9″X12″ size. She mentions the toothy-ness issues and her own struggles with it:

“The screen­like grain on the front (the side that bears the watermark) left so many tiny holes
in the painting that I often found myself blending too vigorously and far too often.” (Landscape Paintings In Pastel, Deborah Secor)

And is exactly the experience I am having too. She goes on to say that the back side texture is quite different and was softer, something my inexperienced self had not thought to explore. So I have since turned the paper over and am enjoying using it much much more. So if you have an interest in pastel painting, even if you don’t intend to paint landscapes, this book is a GREAT free learning tool that will help in so many ways. It is 142 pages long, laid out in 35 chapters and covers topics related to landscapes, color theory, pastel technique, selling art, getting gallery representation. The whole of topics in the career of pastel painting artist!

As for me, I moved on to a few portraits as I am still searching which subject category I am most drawn to by experimenting with many. Landscapes are sure to rank up there as I love landscape drops against sunsets. Sunsets, however, may be overly done since they are loved by many and may lack that bit of creative spark to draw the viewer into your painting, or so I have read in other search result content.

Next time I will talk a bit about my experiences with portraits in pastel so far. Until then, thanks for stopping by and may your travels through life be safe!

Jim Sponseller – mindescapes.net – 2021


Published by Jim Sponseller

By day, a programmer of computers, by night a masked crusader on the front for justice! errr....erm, no. I do create art and writing for everyones enjoyment at mindescapes.net

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