Sunday, January 20, 2008

2 Seasonal Paintings

Like seasonal cooking, painting over the course of a year allows one to experience firsthand some of the changes
that may be unique to the region one lives in. Here's 2 pieces done in the winter over the past few years that show different aspects of light. This is just scratching the surface.

Winter Drizzle
~7.5 x 12.5" Pastel on Canson Paper

Fog, mist, and rain, are some of the qualities of weather and light that come this time of the year. I don't always seek out "miserable" conditions to paint in, as I'm happy to stay in and cook on a cold, dreary day. But sometimes the circumstances are in favor of working outside. In this case, I was sitting inside a horse arena off of Bear Creek Road, while my daughter was riding, and I had some time on my hands. As I often accompanied her out there on the weekends while she groomed and rode her horse, I would bring my pastels along, as the surrounding hills had some promising views. I've probably painted there over 10 times, and I've only kept 2 of the pieces, my daughter providing an automatic time constraint... "Can we PLEASE GO now, Dad?" etc. So, I aborted a few of the pieces midway, or just had unsatisfactory results. The horse has been sold, and I keep this one, as a reminder of that period with my daughter, as well as being able to paint in the rain, and stay dry. Hint:
Find a horse arena with good views!
A soft, misting rain was coming down like a curtain over the hills. The range of color in the green and the violet of certain weeds or shrubs interested me.... this sort of luminous, minty green, and a grey violet. I had to paint that. The foreground horse paraphenalia provided a contrast to the muted bg. I probably overstayed my daughter's time limit on this one.

January Afternoon
~10 x 15"
Pastel on Canson Paper

Here is a kind of light that is common in the East Bay hills this time of the year. Often, on sunny days in the winter, there will be a lot of moisture in the air, which will start attenuating values, even within a hundred feet. This effect becomes more pronounced when looking towards the sun, as in this case. This was painted on a ridgeline about a mile from my house, looking down the hill. I was so interested in the blown out light, I don't think I chose the strongest composition here. The 2 tree 'scoops' are awfully similar in scale and angle. The shadowed folds of the hills were showing a strong bounce color from their counterparts, while the upward facing folds turned blue as the sky colored them. It was a warm afternoon, and some kids were flying remote controlled gliders that were whirring about, periodically passing over my head.


Anonymous said...

They're really pretty, Bill. The first one feels surreal and the second one has a lot of range in color and value, just love it.

Those terry ludwig pastels you recommended arrived and I'm really fond of them. Definitely getting the cool greens set now. Thanks for sharing the knowledge about 'em.

Marco Bucci said...

Great plein air studies. That atmosphere is really palpable. By the way, I've been a fan of yours ever since I picked up the 'art of Bug's Life', when it first came out. So glad to stumble across your blog!

Bill Cone said...

Eduardo, One way using the Terry Ludwigs changed me was the fact that they have no wrapping, and are flat.
For several years, when I first used Senneliers only, I kept them wrapped, and just used the tip. It wasn't until they started breaking accidentally, that I started using them as 'chunks' of color, as opposed to thinking of them as crumbling crayons that you can't sharpen.

Unison also has some good colors. Their blue violet range is good for atmosphere.

Marco, Thanks for the note. It was working on 'A Bug's Life' that got me started doing the pastels
in the first place.

Anonymous said...

That's true, actually! My most brittle sennelier pastels are mostly the lights from the 40 set. My light viridian I use for some skies has already crumbled. The ludwig ones seem to always have some edge for me with less or no need to break one up (so far). Some of the brigher reds from that intense dark set are brittle, with a darker red feeling a bit hard.

For those Unison ones, I guess snatching the 18 BVs on the list and the light set seems good once I can, haha. Oh, and then a box to carry them all in. =\

What do you think about using pastel pencils, or even a charcoal pencil? I've used it sometimes before, but it kind of just dulls out a shadow. Like, it'll look gray... Maybe for something else?

Cheers, Bill! Again, awesome work.

Bill Cone said...

The Senneliers are the most fragile of all the ones I've used, but perhaps because they're also the thinnest, eh?

I always liked their bright sky colors, the one's that go towards washed out cerulean and turqouise. I got a lot of mileage out of those sky colors early on for doing lighting studies on a couple of projects.

Some of the 'pure' colors from any manufacturer can be brittle, like the dark or very saturated blues and greens, for example. Perhaps it's just the true character of the mineral itself at a certain point.

As far as using other tools, I think anything goes, as long as you can integrate it. I have explored that a bit at work, when I needed some detail in an image that I couldn't achieve with
crumbling bits of colored rubble and fingers.

There's a whole other range of techniques that
I've not yet explored, involving laying down an underpainting of color with harder pastels, then putting softer over that, or laying down pastel colors, and moving it around with a paintbrush and thinner, then using the sticks over that. Some artists whose work you may want to look at are Clark Mitchell, Kim Lordier, and Gary Blackwell. They use some of these different techniques. I think they all have their own websites.

dicet said...

oh my god Bill!
You never told us about your new website! GOsh! This is gonna be my regular hang out blog!

Thanks for sharing.

Beauuuuutiful paintings! Wow!

Katy Wu said...

These are great Bill! I need to whip out my pastels again.. if only it'd stop raining here. :P

Anonymous said...

I've been checking out those artists' websites, Bill. Thank you. I especially like Blackwell and Lordier's work. They're keepers. There's some more I've seen, like Colleen Howe's. Just nice stuff.

I have some hidden nupastels around here, hrmm.. give that hard to soft stick application a shot.

How do you go by storing your paintings? Do you use fixatives or frame 'em? I'm starting to wonder where and how I'd store any work in pastels to preserve them. Sorry about all these questions, by the way... @_@

Randy Bantog said...

gorgeous pastel paintings!

Bill Cone said...

Eduardo, A simple way to store them is just pin them up where no one can bump into them! If you want to put them away, I make little foamcore and glassine storage boards. The pastels are taped to a piece of foamcore, the glassine is hinged over it, and a simple 3 sided spacer of foam core is hinged over the whole thing, like a narrow matte. I can stack them up, and they don't press on each other. I'll post a picture of one of them sometime. Easy to make. There's probably better solutions, that is just what I came up with out of necessity.

TJ said...

I am new to your blog (via Robin Purcell). I am primarily a pastel painter. This January Afternoon speaks electric to me! Your paintings have a serene joy to them and thank you for taking the time to blog and allow us to view them and share your thoughts in painting them. I love Ludwig pastels but also the Paul deMarrais ones that I have.

Thank you so much.

df said...

Is winter drizzle for sale?

Anonymous said...

Its so very gentle, warm and captures the day warming up so beautifully