|The View from Eagle Cove, pastel, 9" x 12."|
|The yard at Eagle Cove School.|
I rarely paint with pastels en plein air, mostly because I have yet to assemble a professional traveling kit for them, but this time I brought my set of Sennelier half-sticks and the old Grumbacher set of pastels I inherited from Mum (my mother-in-law Margaret). I set up my Guerilla Painter box & tripod and laid the Sennelier box across the palette, leaving the Grumbacher box on the ground. I had to bend down periodically to select the Grumbacher sticks I wanted to work with, laying them on the palette. A sheet of Wallis paper mounted with adhesive onto a piece of archival matboard was my surface.
I wasn't sure just how to tackle the painting--I haven't had as much experience with pastels as with oils or watercolor, so I have not developed any specific method of working. I constructed the main features: the lines of the trees on the right, the water and horizon, the two boats as the focal point, the near shoreline. From there on I was all over the place, filling in the lights on the tree trunk and drooping branches, then a bit of the darks, a peach wash over the sky overlaid with light blue, coloring the far shore, a lilac wash over the water. It didn't look like much at first, but gradually the painting began to emerge.
I'm so used to mixing my colors in oils that trying to select just the right val-hues in colored chalk seemed impossible--the water was too purple, and needed to be toned down with gray-greens and blues. The touch of blue-green in the bushes in the foreground appeared garish at first, but after consideration, it's a gorgeous color and it works, so I added some touches of the same color to the tree foliage. Voila! It was so much fun, I must try it again real soon.
Looking at Gibson Island across the water, we artists wished one of us knew someone who lived there who would invite us over to paint, so we could cross the causeway to explore this intriguing place. How about it folks--any one reading this who lives on Gibson Island? Would you please invite a group of plein air artists to paint on your island? We'd love it!