Thursday, October 7, 2010

Aspen on black

Sometimes, it takes a failed painting (or attempt) to act as the impetus for trying something new, or at least different.  In this case, it was another pastel of fall colors that managed to quickly head for the rut and stay there.   Despite putting a couple hours into it, which was probably part of the problem, it just got worse.

So, yesterday, I tried something different.  A discussion on WC about painting on black paper prompted me to experiment with some watercolor paper and black acrylic paint as a surface.   I've always liked working on black paper; it makes the pastel colors much more intense.

I also was reminded of why it's often a good idea to do thumbnails of complex scenes to distill them down to a series of simple abstracted shapes in 3-4 values, and as a reminder that often "less is more" when it comes to detail in a painting.

These are a step towards abstracting the landscape.   I was also needing a high-chroma color fix, so these  paintings are good for that.  They are fun to paint and I'm really enjoying working with the bright colors and compliments.

Aspen #1
12x9 inches
pastel on cold press watercolor paper toned black

Aspen #2
12x 7.5 inches
pastel on w/c paper toned black

Orange aspen?  Not the usual color, but certain stands are pale orange.  Add some late afternoon backlighting and they positively glow orange!  There is a small stand of them along Hwy 550 near Coal Bank Pass, with a convenient pull-out, which is where the photos that this painting is based on.

This is the cropped version; the original had the center tree right in the center and some misc. trunk/busy-ness over on the right.

Here is the page of 4x3" thumbnails I did for a few of these yesterday:


  1. Woohoo! More thumbnails! I'm loving that they're cropping up all over the place... Aspen #2 is GREAT... I love the color choices and the values... the shaded oranges are superb. Well done.

  2. Hi Sherrie - thanks so much for stopping by; I appreciate your comments!

    I should tell you that after finding/reading your blog, I was inspired to start doing a page of thumbnail sketches a's a good way to get in 30 min. of drawing. So, thank you for that!

  3. Wow, I really like all the images on this post.

  4. Jala - I missed this comment earlier. And someone else's comment showed up for moderation, I hit "publish", but it never showed up for some reason.

    I'm enjoying the intense colors for this series and the challenge of distilling a scene to a series of simple shapes. As we've discussed before, it's much harder than it looks to work abstractly and decide what not to put in the painting.


Your thoughtful comments add value to this blog - thank you so much for taking the time to leave them!

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