Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Southeastern Pastel Demo And Talk

It has been a little while since I posted here. Many things have been happening. Two shows, a studio tour, a plein air event, open studio at my place with a new blog for that, planning workshops for next year ... and a demonstration at the Southeastern Pastel Society.

Beginning the discussion about the trip!
The Southeastern Pastel Society wanted me to talk about the trip I made to Ireland this July/August and how I won part of the trip, participated in Art In The Open in Wexford, Ireland ... and marketed this work to my patrons. Well ... I told them many times it is rather boring to listen to someone talk about their trip. So, I asked if they minded if I demonstrated a pastel painting from one of my Ireland photographs while talking about all the other! Yes, was the answer, and so here goes a little of what I did that evening. I'll weave into the discussion part, photos taken while I demonstrated!
The 15" Digital Photo Screen --
I paint from this!

First I had everything set up so I could start the painting very quickly. I brought with me the "heavy" French easel, my 15" digital photo screen, books with photos from the trip, photos along with the paintings I created, and a book with all the information from start to finish about the trip. These books were passed around while I talked and demonstrated.
Showing how I do a thumbnail
and a Notan before I start the painting.

I discussed first how I had won the trip -- or part of the trip, anyway. I belong to a web site called "" which Don Maier started several years ago. Many wonderful artists belong to this site, from beginners to professional. Don and a member of the Irish Plein Aire site decided to hold a competition to give one US artist the entry fee into the competition (Art In The Open) and a 7-night stay at a 4-star hotel with bed/breakfast package. All the winner had to do was get there ... so that meant air fare, and whatever else the costs would be ... like eating, and getting from Dublin to Wexford. Wexford is about a two-hour bus drive below Dublin on the Southeastern Coast of Ireland.

Beginning a light
pencil sketch.
So, I submitted three plein air paintings to the competition .... oh yeah ... these were to be somehow "Irish" in nature, or green! That was fun ... green is no stranger to me! The group at the meeting got a kick out of that one! Anyway, I won the entry and hotel, and started looking for airfare, getting reservations for the bus ride, etc.

Here I am starting with a
watercolor underpainting on an
Ampersand Pastelbord.
To fund this part of the trip, I decided to offer a deal to my patrons and family.  This was a very special offer and only to those that have been long time supporters of my paintings, classes and workshops. I sent these people a newsletter via e-mail, and then I also sent a beautiful letter by Postal Service. The patrons were allowed to choose a size and pay in advance at a discounted rate. This allowed me to travel to Ireland and participate in the "Art In The Open" Plein Aire Festival.

Watercolor complete, and holding
the photo reference! Don't you love
the faces a camera person catches?
After returning from Ireland, I painted 35 paintings to supplement the plein air pieces. I uploaded images of all the paintings to a Picasa Web Album and sent a newsletter to all the participants to have a look and start choosing their favorites. A date was set and the party was held for the showing the Ireland series! After a little time of partying and conversation, it was time. The first person to "opt in" for the pre-sale chose their painting. The second person was not here, but they had already seen the images online at the web album and had given me their choice with a couple of alternates in case their first choice was already gone. They did get their first choice! Third person, fourth person and so on down the list until all had chosen their painting!
Beginning the pastel
application - standing to the
side so viewers can see.

Though they paid for a certain size, they were not limited to that size. If they wanted a larger one, then they paid the difference. If they wanted a smaller one, they could receive the difference in a refund or apply it to another painting. The first person did "up-size"! The third person did "down-size" and choose another painting (not an Ireland one) and just paid the small difference in what it cost and their credit from the Ireland painting. I believe everyone had a very good time, and left happy!

Taking a look before

I rarely ever discount my artwork unless they are buying multiples! This is only the second time I have offered this kind of opportunity. It does not come around very often ... and my patrons and clients know that. So, not a bad deal on both our parts ... I get to go on a trip, I get to sell some paintings, and my biggest supporters get a "Thank You" deal and one of the first paintings from a new series!

Brushing out the foreground
because it did not help the painting.
The remainder of the photos will finish the progression of the demonstration and the process I use to work on a painting. The photos show the thumbnail and Notan, the digital photo screen, a photo that I manipulated in Photoshop Elements, and the initial sketching and watercolor underpainting on the white Ampersand Pastelbord.

Reapplying shadows at a darker
value to help the composition.

After the underpainting in watercolor, I start by applying the pastel in a broad manner, working from dark to light most of the time. On this particular one, when I started applying some of the darks in the trees, and the colors in the sky ... I decided I loved the looseness of the strokes and the values, and so told them I did not think the trees needed any green! And, I even showed how when something did not meet my expectations, I brush off the lower third and reapply pastel in a different value to help the composition come together.

Here I am taking a final look
before stopping for the night.

I added a few diagonal strokes of light to create a little pathway from the foreground to the middle and some strokes of yellow and mauve / purple to indicate there might be wildflowers in the area. At this point, I step back and decide the painting needs to sit for awhile at home and then I will have another look to decide if it really is what I want. My demonstrations tend to look a little looser than my studio pieces ... almost in the same vein as when I go plein air! I think I like it! 

Here is the painting as it was when I stopped that night. I have done nothing more to it. It is still sitting where I can see it when I walk through the room.