Monday, September 28, 2015

Photo, Study, Painting

Briefly, my process...

Starting with a reference photo, I talk to myself about why I want to paint this scene. This is a photo of Roberts Road in our town of Black Diamond. It is on the route between my Grandma Benedetti's house (she is long gone but the house remains) and the cemetery where she and my aunts and uncles are buried. Now that we have moved to this area, I drive this road often on my way to the post office and library. I have built-in emotion for the scene. I like the way the road dips as it goes over the creek that is bordered by lush foliage of native trees and brush. I like the way the house on the left peeks through. I like the tops of the trees - big and loose. I like the grasses and shadows and most importantly, I can imagine painting this scene. But, I also can easily envision how I might become immersed in detail and include too much detail with small sharp strokes or the spattering I have become so fond of. I know the formula that works: Start with the large shapes and work to the detail but be sensitive and aware of WHEN TO WALK AWAY before it becomes labored and picky.

I'm a big fan of small studies as you may have noticed on my Daily Paintworks Gallery. I use the studies to work out composition, value, color, etc. So before embarking on a 13 x 13 inch finished painting of this scene, I painted a small study and as I write this it is in its final hours on the Daily Paintworks. Sold

I cropped the reference photo scene to a square format and painted (quickly and with abandon) my interpretation of the scene. Got the dip in the road, got the loose, breezy trees, put in an indication of the building. I like it!  I like it so much that Study#2 of this scene is not going to happen so I moved on to my larger painting. The paper of both paintings is my new favorite, Pastelmat but I didn't have a large enough piece of the same color so I chose a warmer hue for the larger painting. Pastelmat doesn't have a deep tooth to hold lots of pastel so I laid in the big dark shapes of the trees with an oil wash. I would love to be able to make the bold strokes of color that appear in the small study but I am limited by the width of my pastel sticks.

Roberts Road, Black Diamond, WA - pastel - 13 x 13 inches
Several things changed in the larger painting - the most obvious is that there is more emphasis on the road instead of on the house. I saw this happening and was OK with it. It is up to each artist to decide what they learned from their study and how closely they choose to follow it in the finished painting. Overall, it has a more finessed look but I stopped myself before including much detail. This painting is scheduled for a show at Scott Milo Gallery, Anacortes, WA in Dec 2015/Jan 2016.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Study #1 for a larger work

I was curious to know if I could do an underpainting on Pastelmat. Seems to work. I used an oil paint wash to tone white Pastelmat.

Study #1, pastel, 6 x 6 inches

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Red Barn - the larger version

Red Barn larger version Step 1
I'm painting for a couple fall/winter gallery shows. This time it is Red Barn again with the little study to guide me. I photocopied the little study and drew guidelines on it to help me transfer the scene to an 11x15 inch format.

Red Barn, pastel, 11 x 15 inches

Monday, September 14, 2015

Red Barn Progression

Red Barn, pastel, 5x7 inches Available   

Red Barn, pastel, 5x7 in virtual frame

Sure Mount

Judy commented on yesterday's post asking what adhesive I use to mount pastel paper to Gatorbord. Here it is. When it arrived, the jug had leaked all over the instruction label so I had to Google how to use it. Can't remember now but I just Googled it and found this information.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Study#2 for Tucked Away

Study#2 - Tucked Away, pastel, 9x6 inches
​As much as I loved the angles of the buildings in Study#1 for Tucked Away, they kept getting in my way as I tried to simplify the scene. I used a vertical format this time to emphasize what the story is about (the "tucked away" house). Different paper, different application of pastel. 9x6 inch image, Wallis mounted on Gatorbord.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A study challenge in simplification

I have a reference photo of an old farmhouse off the main highway, down a dirt road around a fenced pasture, between outbuildings and suddenly, an uphill driveway to the main house. Definitely "tucked away."

Study - Tucked Away, pastel, 5x7 inches
Love all the angles and planes, reflected color. I will continue simplifying this scene for a larger work. Available         
My September update

Monday, September 7, 2015

filling frames

I'm still bonding with my new studio. When we first arrived here, I jammed everything I didn't want to deal with into my storage room. Suddenly, it is Fall and I have to begin painting for a couple upcoming gallery shows so I have to get organized. I pulled everything out of the storage room, repositioned the shelving unit to a different wall and ordered a work table to go along the wall where the shelf had been. I left my collection of frames in the main room of the studio beside my drafting table so I would have to look at it daily and do something about it. I culled those with imperfections - I thought I would use them someday for personal work. That left about 50 frames, wood and metal, some with mat and glass.

I was excited to paint a larger version of my Chicken Coop study and use a frame I had on hand but the first frame I pulled out of a box had a mat and glass in horizontal format instead of the vertical format of the small study. Well, an added challenge, that's okay.

When I begin a new painting, I almost always take step x step photos but then when the painting process gets exciting, I forget to stop and take photos so there are only three below. They will give you an idea of how I begin a pastel when I don't use an under painting. This painting was FUN, maybe because I was so fond of the little Chicken Coop study. This is a scene from our new, more rural neighborhood. I love it here.

Chicken Coop, pastel, 11 x 15 inches

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

One more

Reference photo for Brambled
A few days ago I painted the street-side of this little ivy and bramble covered house and named it "Forgotten." Today, using this reference photo of the side view, I painted "Brambled" in a 6x6 inch format. See the painting below then use the Daily Paintworks Magnifier.

Brambled, pastel, 6x6 inches

Sunday, August 30, 2015


An old chicken coop, no longer used but still standing.
Three months ago we moved from the hustle and bustle to a more rural location. Not so many people, much quieter and more scenic. The landscape is dotted with old buildings where people lived, laughed, worked. This is the  same area where I visited my Grandma, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins when I was a child. I've painted three little scenes: the images are 6x4 inches on 7x5 pastel paper. I may paint more, or not. These three will go to Daily Paintworks for purchase. Use the Magnifier there for a closer look.

I call this the Ivy House because one side is covered in Ivy. No one lives there but it is on my route to the Library and Post Office. It seems to be forgotten but deserves to be painted.
We came upon this original homestead on a Sunday Drive. I'm sure a lot of memories were made in this simple little house. Sadly, it now stands open to the weather.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

In appreciation

Study for Leaving Home, pastel, 5x4 inches
I recently shipped Study for Leaving Home to it's new owner and received a nice email from her.  Thank you Jory! Take a look at her beautiful paintings through the link below.

Dear Barbara,
I received your perfect little gem “Study for leaving home” yesterday. It is a perfectly detailed brilliant little painting and doesn’t look like a study at all. I just love it! It is already at my framers and it will be in a place of honor.
Thank you! (feel free to post this testimonial if you want)

Jory Mason

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Two new ones

Study for Spring at Gold Creek, pastel, 5 x 4  inches

Study for Spring at Gold Creek Pond, pastel, 4 x 5 inches
See both of these little studies with the Magnifier on my Daily Paintworks Gallery page.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Take a look...

After my post yesterday showing a small pastel study, I had a conversation with my husband about why I posted the green reference photo along with the colorful little pastel. I told him about a follow-up post I would do as soon as I had time - one in which I would put into words what I showed as a visual: take any reference photo and push the color. If you have trouble imagining how to do this, put the reference photo in Photoshop and slide the "Hue" bar. It is an interesting experiment. Meanwhile, today Marla Baggetta has posted on the same topic and she has saved me a lot of typing as well as explaining it better than I might have. Here is a link to Marla's post. Thank you Marla from all of us!

The other thing I wanted to tell you is that the little studies on Daily Paintworks, mine and those of others, are inexpensive little gems of education, especially if you can't study in person with the artist. If you want a real, live example to study composition, value, color or stroke, invest in one of these. Place it on your easel next to your painting and put it to work by example to improve your own art. Here is one I have available now -  Study for "Leaving Home". See it on Daily Paintworks.

Study for Leaving Home Sold

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The second time around

My new Studio is full of natural light during the day but last night was the first time I painted after dark. I found a reference photo in one of my old sketchbooks and used it for a little color study.

This morning the skies are overcast making it MUCH easier to get a good photograph. This is a Study for "All Things Good and True" (the second time around). Sold

Monday, August 10, 2015


A few days ago I was informed by the folks at Patience Brewster that August is Artist Appreciation Month. Patience designs hand-painted ornaments for Christmas and all year decor. They inspired me to write a post on this blog about a few artists that have inspired me.

The first artist that comes to mind is my former instructor at Burnley School of Professional Art, William Cumming. Below is a photo of my office wall and his painting - girl leaning toward a window -  that he gifted me when I was his student. Bill Cumming encouraged me to carry a sketchbook and to make a habit of capturing everyday events in quick, spontaneous line drawings. He showed me the joy of line and the emotion and moods a simple line can convey.

Next to my Cumming painting are two works by my first husband, William Iles. As I look back, I am inspired by his perseverance and dedication to express himself through art regardless of his circumstances.

These days as I work in pastel and oil, my art heart beats faster when I see the lovely works of  Tibor Nagy and Alex Kanevsky. I can't express in words how their work makes me feel. The play of color and texture in their paintings inspire me to get into the Studio. That's where I'm headed now!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

painting from my sketchbook

I used to be diligent about adding entries to my Sketchbook. These days, it is fun to look back to review my art struggles - most of them now a distant memory. The work itself also shows my challenges of the time. When I came across the painting Days Ease I remembered how much I liked it. I even remember the person who came to my Studio to pick up another painting and saw this one and purchased it also.

Today I wondered how differently I would paint the scene now so I propped the sketchbook up on my easel and began to paint. It was fun, and the best part was walking away when I had said what I intended instead of belaboring the painting.

Days Ease, pastel, 4.5 x 6 inches   Sold

Monday, August 3, 2015

painting light

Painted on Wallis paper toned with Venetian Red gesso.
Leavenworth Light, pastel, 7 x 7 inches Sold

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Paint it twice...

I painted "Leavenworth Pine" twice this morning. I had to rip up the first painting because when I removed the black artist tape that held it to my easel, the tape took the right bottom corner of the Colourfix pastel paper with it. Here is the second try shown in steps...much improved anyway because I was familiar with the subject (same as doing a study for a larger painting).
Leavenworth Pine Step 1
Leavenworth Pine Step2
Leavenworth Pine Step3
Leavenworth Pine, pastel, 6x6 inches   Sold