pastel, Uncategorized, Watercolor Painting

Spring Colors

Spring is finally here even though a chill wind creates little choppy waves and white caps on the lake near my house.   But now, new blossoms around our neighborhood are blindingly radiant.  They won’t last long so we’re trying to take it all in now.  When we’re out walking, they bounce in the breezes overhead  as if tossing folds of white and pink skirts to show off.  Bright forsythia complete the color show.  It’s tempting to set up an easel immediately but a quick check this morning confirmed that the temperatures are just above freezing.

Lake scene

Illustration: “Spring colors”, 15″ x 7″ watercolor, gouache and ink on Fabriano Traditional White 140# watercolor paper by Black Elephant Blog author

It’s hard to believe a year that starts off with such a gorgeous spring could be anything but fabulous (though, of course, sadly, there’s many more reasons geopolitically at least why it might not be–but that surely is for another blog post, and maybe even another blog).  Art is a great way to escape from whatever is preoccupying one. Anyway, it’s time to get out the paints and the pastels, pencils and erasers, and experiment.   No pressures, just to see what happens.

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Illustration: “Bouquet,” hard and soft pastel on Claire Fontaine Ingres Pastel “Bright” paper, by Black Elephant Blog author (2019)

Here’s a bit of the latest work, including a pastel on a Claire Fontaine Ingres colored pastel paper made in France.  (Note: this paper has a sort of grid imprint that shows up in one’s work, not an effect everyone is seeking, but I was using it for the background color.)  I’ve found that I can make copies of these on a little printer and give them out as cards, when I need one.

Recently, over the weekend, we had a warm Saturday afternoon, so I set up a watercolor easel downtown in the driveway of an unoccupied ($8 million!) house opposite this cemetery gate.  It was a great spot, just out of the way of the pedestrians with a direct view of the gate.  I’ve been fascinated for several years by the famous Fauvist Raoul Dufy’s treatment of gates (he mainly painted in oils), so perhaps I’ll give this one another try.  It’s the gate to the Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown, Washington, D.C.  The cemetery was founded in 1849 and overlooks the Rock Creek Parkway.

OakHillCemetery

Illustration: “Oak Hill”, watercolor, gouache, and ink on “15x “11 Arches 140# watercolor paper

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Uncategorized, Watercolor Painting

Spring in the Park

Spring is struggling to make itself known this year. There’s a chill in the air. Cold breezes vied with bright sunshine in Central Park this weekend.  Color and light caught your eye after taking in some artworks inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art.   From the top of the museum, the Manhattan skyline edged the tops of the furthest trees.  One can imagine spring settling in here soon.

Spring1

Illustration: “Spring in the Park”, watercolor, pastel, gouache and burnt sienna drawing ink on 10″ X 7″ Arches rough paper by Black Elephant Blog author (2018)

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Innovation, Risk, Surprise, Uncategorized

Urban Sketching in Pastel

University classes are just about done but, just across the river, students in my pastel class are still in high-gear, clearly in no hurry to have this series of classes end.   Here is a practice pastel worked up in the studio class after some sketches made not long ago.  In the ever-expanding armory of art supplies, NuPastels have been joined now by Sennelier half-stick pastels in 120 colors.  This is a messier medium than watercolor, for sure, and a whole lot more “forgiving.”  It is just about as different as it could be, in fact.  But, how do people go “urban sketching” –especially if traveling abroad–with such an array of tools–hard and soft pastels, paper of all kinds, etc?  More “problems” to solve! 🙂

Illustration:  Pastel sketch, "Japanese Garden at the Hillwood Estates, Washington, D.C."  by Black Elephant author

Illustration: Pastel sketch, “Japanese Garden at the Hillwood Estates, Washington, D.C.” by Black Elephant author

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Surprise, Uncategorized

Going Pastel

Joining the ranks of the pastel artists can feel like crossing over to another world; upon introduction where one is welcomed with curiosity, we mention our “medium” and this apparently already says a lot about us to the pastel artists.  Like how we approach a piece of paper, and what color our paper usually is (white, in the case of watercolor people).  Everything we have learned is just the opposite in pastel, where among the pros the affection for this medium is a self-declared addiction.

Pastel

Illustration: Pastel by Black Elephant Blog author

Like every other endeavor, there’s a certain initial outlay that’s unavoidably necessary when seriously endeavoring to take on a new medium.  Pastel has its own papers and tools. I started with a box of 96 NuPastels and was quite amazed at the colors they produced.  But for blending and other effects, the more experienced all have additional favorites, and it can “add up” pretty quickly.  (I was really glad the NuPastels worked so well as I felt less compelled to immediately go out and stock up on the allegedly even better stuff.)  In addition, pastel pencils are necessary for finer details.  There’s lots to experiment with…  Most of the members of the group I’m learning with have a headstart and produced wonderful things some of which seem like frescos ready for display.  There’s another exciting journey ahead!  And another medium, pretty well-suited to urban sketching, by the way, to add to those I’ve already adopted.

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Surprise, Uncategorized

Santa Fe Sketches

Santa Fe 1

Illustration: Pastel by Black Elephant Blog author on grey Canson Mi-Teintes Pastel paper

New Mexico in the early Spring: bright yellow flowers in the snow, white drifts on mountain peaks in the distance, terracotta adobe houses hugging the hillsides, a fresh cold air that catches your breath, a startlingly blue sky, a lovely teahouse along Canyon Road…

From museums, churches, markets, and  hundreds of beautiful outdoor sculptures to parks, shops, and restaurants, there’s much to see and do… and sketch. But on this trip the temperatures have generally been too cold for much outdoor sketching.

Even finding the time to complete a sketch can be difficult with all the attractions all around.

St. Francis Park sketch

Illustration: Sketch on Strathmore Aquarius II paper by Black Elephant Blog author

There’s the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, for instance, which brings the story of this amazing artist alive, ensuring that one wants to know more.

Georgia O'Keefe paintbox

Illustration: Georgia O’Keefe’s paintbox on display under glass at the Georgia O’Keefe Museum

And the hundreds of years of history on display in the New Mexico History Museum inside the Palace of the Governors on the Plaza.

 

The colors of the hills and mountains that have made this area a favorite of artists for many years did not disappoint.

 

South from Taos

Illustration: Watercolor sketch, “South of Taos” on Strathmore Aquarius II paper by Black Elephant Blog author

With its rich history, intersection of cultures, and mix of ancient and modern, Santa Fe is a mecca for artists of all kinds. It’s easy to see why they call it the Land of Enchantment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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