Friday, January 31, 2014

Old Nickelhead

"Old Nickelhead" (pastel, 30" circle)  $3500

Here it is... my first round pastel painting. The idea came to me about a year ago when I was cropping some photos for painting references, and a particular cow profile caught my attention.

photo, cropped

By habit I had cropped it into a square, but something just wasn't right. It was trying to tell me something. This noble profile really reminded me of a Roman coin.

! It was a light bulb going off... a circle! After a bit of playing around with the controls (I had never cropped a circle in Photoshop before) I got it figured out.

photo, cropped and adjusted
I was enthralled. Just look at the shape of that negative space! How perfectly she fits.

But like so many things in life, this idea had to wait until I had time to figure out the details, like... framing.

And, essentially, I just had to let it rest in my brain for a while so I could Think About It.

So I thought about it for a year or so, while studying the frames on clocks and round mirrors, and collecting more shots of cows when they'd look away, and finally, when agonizing over what great new piece to create for the Austin Pastel Society's annual juried exhibition, I decided.

It was time for the circle.

So I cracked down and did my research. Round frames can be had at (although my husband is filling my ears with ceiling rings and modified ceiling medallions, and "Let me check at Home Depot, honey!"..) A local glass company can cut a circle out of my glass. I've had advice on spacer options for circles, and I spent an enjoyable evening cropping circles around cattle, which is where I found my beautiful Bison photo from our Yellowstone trip.

photo, cropped and adjusted
I decided that in keeping with the coin feeling, and to set off the portrait-ness, I generalized the background and even used a couple of my new Diane Townsend metallic pastels.

Hopefully I'll have him framed in time for the show in early March!

*May 2015 Update: Here's the frame I found for him!
Solid handcrafted walnut by Mike Crone


Wednesday, January 29, 2014


"Aislinn"  (pastel, 6x6 inches)  click here to bid

The last of my current batch of dailies for this week, unless I get done with my special secret project earlier than expected, which isn't likely. My special secret project is my new entry for the Austin Pastel Society's annual juried exhibit (which I never miss!) and the deadline is Friday. Midnight. Yes, 2 days from when I write this on Wednesday night. The good news is I think I'm about halfway done and I'm optimistic about finishing on time.

So you wonder what it is?? It's a bison, kinda' big, 30". I'm painting it just in just the same way I paint all my other large animal paintings, but it's like no other pastel painting I've ever seen, and maybe like none you've seen either. Framing will be my biggest hurdle, but I think I've got it covered. That's all I'm saying. If it looks good I'll post it on Saturday. Anyone want to guess the secret before then?

Meanwhile, here are a few progress shots of Aislinn:


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Little Jack

"Little Jack" (pastel, 6x6 inches)  click here to bid

I'm going to try to do more little squares this year, because I like composing in a square, and eventually I'd like one of my books to be just a book of little square paintings, maybe.

If 'Little Jack' looks familiar, it's because it's actually another view of 'Miso'. I was wondering how this calf would look in a very high-key value scale with just those 5 dark spots (or 7 if you count the baby horns..) I admit to becoming trapped and wandering joyfully about for far too long in the blues, violets and greens of the white shadows. After that I forgot to take more photos, but here are the progress shots up to that point:

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Friday, January 24, 2014


"Dolly"  (pastel, 7x5 inches)  sold

Another darling deer I had primed before the workshop. Had time to finish her today, along with 3 others. I was distracted by my progress and only caught two progress shots:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Park Trail #34

"Park Trail #34"  (pastel, 8x6 inches)  click here to bid 

I did a landscape demo at the tail end of the Victoria workshop, but this isn't it. That one needs some tweaking before I can call it finished. This is one of my demos from the Breckenridge TX workshop from last fall. Somehow it fell through the cracks and never got posted!

Here are some progress shots:
 On this one, I started with a board that had a single layer of my gold primer, and used various red/orange/violet pastels to create a value study.
 This I washed in with denatured alcohol, as I learned in Terri Ford's workshop.
 Then comes the dry pastels...

I thought i was done here, but after looking at this, I narrowed the pathway on the last day of the Breckenridge workshop. (see above)

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014


"Tori"  (pastel, 7x5 inches)  click here to bid

Here's my Saturday morning demo from the weekend's workshop in Victoria. "Victoria" was the suggested name for this one, but I felt she looked much too mischievous for such an elegant, queenly name, so I shortened it.

This demo was worked in intense and (almost) silent concentration, so I could show the class how fast I can actually work. My unofficial timer was my iPad, which is set to fade off at 15 minutes. This one (the pastel work - it was already primed with gold and black) took me more than 15 but less than 30 minutes.

I didn't think to have anyone take progress shots.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Lavender (and the Victoria Workshop)

"Lavender"  (pastel, 6x6 inches) sold

My opening demo on Saturday in my workshop at the Victoria Art League. I had a great group of 11 ladies and one gent.

Thank you to Peggy for taking some excellent shots during this demo!

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BTW: My next workshop for "Pastel in Miniature" will be in Raymondville TX at the Willacy County Art League on Feb 28 & Mar 1 & 2. More info on my Workshop page.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Chick on a Pedestal

"Chick on a Pedestal"  (pastel, 6x6 inches)  sold

What happens to a chick when you put her on a pedestal? Well then you have to look up to her. Like a movie star. She becomes larger than life (which a close-up at 6x6 is!) But don't expect any thanks. She won't notice you beneath her. Her gaze is on the horizon of her glittering future.

This chick was actually an exercise in a limited palette. My pastel box is still in the truck after the Victoria demo and there it will stay until I'm back down there this weekend for the workshop because I'm too lazy to unload.
So I put this Chick's primed board up on my easel for a quick 'daily' workout, I turned to the table next to my easel and that's when I noticed the missing pastel box! Nothing but my two latest Unison sets, some misc Girault flesh tones, and the tiny shards of my (sort of) cleaned out box from last week.

I looked back and forth between my primed Chick and my assortment of pastels on the table for a couple of seconds, and decided I would go at it anyway with just these. I had the Unison yellow-green-earth set of 18 (which I love!!) and a little set of 8 violets. No real reds, but what saved me were the tiny bits of my best deep orange and bright yellow that I found among the leftover shards. I let the gold primer do a lot of the talking in this one. Another 'trick' was the blue background which made the warm feathers look more intense than they really were.

Here are the progress shots:

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