Sunday, October 17, 2010

Series intermission

I didn't manage to get any painting done yesterday - just a page of thumbnail sketches.   I was originally planning on working in oils today, as I don't have sheets prepared for the aspen on black series yet.

Then, I decided that I wanted to just pull out the old standby - 400-grit sandpaper - and do some "for the heck of it" pastels.   There were two ideas bouncing around in my head for paintings, and so those are now actualized.

First up is an idea that I've long been wanting to do for a while - an abstracted landscape based on the dark, brooding storm sky against a bright, sunlit foreground.  Inspiration came from multiple sources, including pastelist Wolf Kahn's work, my blogger friend Jala's abstracted paintings, the work of Marla Baggetta, and my observations and photos.   In fact, the trees in this piece were based on a snapshot I took from the car during our drive back from Aztec, NM, about 2 weeks ago.   This was done with no photo reference directly handy - just a mental idea of what I wanted.

Plus, I love the compliments of blue and orange together.

11x9 inches
pastel on 400-grit sandpaper

Foreground is all NuPastels; sky is all MV Thunderstorm Grays, and the trees are Sennelier and Unison. Looking at it now, I think it would be improved with some of the foreground cropped away.  

The second piece is a more traditional landscape, but with effort to avoid extraneous detail.  Interestingly, it's also based on a photo taken during a drive back from Aztec about 2 months ago - the clouds were glorious, so it was time to get a sky fix in.  I knew at the time I took the photo I needed to paint it.  Plus, I really like painting roads [even though I can't seem to get the divider stripes to turn out the way I want].  I left out the telephone poles and some buildings.  The fence and group of trees stayed.

South of Town
9x11 inches
pastel on 400-grit sandpaper

Here are a few more photos from our Canyonlands trip:

Left:  faded flowers of some Rabbitbrush in front of the sandstone walls on the drive towards the park.  Right:  A lone pinyon pine stands against the sandstone cliff outside the park.

A juniper casts long shadows across sandstone slickrock by our campsite at Hamburger Rock.

Another view from our campsite, looking to the east.  A twisted juniper is wedged in the sandstone dome I stood on to take the photo.


  1. Really like your two works on sandpaper - never heard of anyone painting on it- but I see it works!

  2. Hi Helen,

    Thank you as always for your comments! :) Sandpaper is nice because it's: 1) available everywhere; 2) inexpensive; 3) is wonderful to paint on.

    The only issue with it is that it's presumed to be non-archival, but that hasn't stopped people from buying paintings I've done on it. It might not last 500 years (but I'm willing to bet it will last at least 30), but impermanence is the state of life itself, so I don't worry.

    BTW, it is wet-dry sandpaper [GatorGrit, made in Finland] which is very durable, and has the dark gray surface that makes the pastels so vibrant.


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