Pastel Painting Demo: “Quiet Day”

Hello all of my creative friends!

I hope you are all enjoying your holiday. My family and I are feeling truly blessed by having some time off to spend making memories with each other and doing some of the things we love to do—like painting! 🙂

To that end, today’s post includes a pastel painting demonstration with photos and video.
So, let’s get started!

My inspiration photo for this demo is of a scene in our backyard. This photo, as happens in many of the photos I shoot, has an interplay of light and shadow which piqued my interest. 

Inspiration Photo

When I started this painting,I made the decision to paint without a plan—dun, dun, DUN!!! 
What?! No thumbnail?? No value study?? 

I know, I know…Normally I would do those things to get to know my subject and to take a few passes at it in order to be better acquainted before jumping in to paint. But, not this time. Why?

Well, a few reasons. 

First, I was feeling spontaneous! For those of you who don’t know me well, I am not often spontaneous.
I am, in fact, a planner. But being spontaneous is something I value because for me, it is connected with PLAY.
And play is something I am striving to do more of, especially in the coming year.

Second, like many of you, time off is limited for me. I am not the kind of artist who likes to work in broken segments of time on a project—ten minutes here, fifteen minutes there.

Instead, I tend to like to work in longer sessions of at least an hour in length. When I work this way, I can get into and stay in “the Zone” more easily. And when I have time off, it’s actually possible to work in the way I prefer. For this painting, I just wanted to jump right in.

Finally, I wanted to challenge myself to work in a different way. Not having a plan is kind of like working without a net. Maybe something good would come out of it, maybe not. But I would definitely learn something along the way, and that’s a wonderful thing!

The photo below was taken at about the half-way point.

Blocked In

Here is the finished painting. I asked my brother to suggest a name for it; hence, “A Quiet Day.”

“A Quiet Day” pastel on Pastelmat 8×10

Here is the link to the video I made of my painting process. I did not videotape my final mark-making because I like to take a break from the painting before I make those final decisions. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed sharing it, and I hope you have lots of time to nurture your own creative play-time in the coming year.

Till next time friends,






When Making Art Is A Struggle: Lessons Learned

Hello creative friends!  

I wanted to do a follow-up to my last post about the little painting study I recently did, “Never Give Up.”

First, I was drawn to this subject because of the interplay of light and dark in the cloud masses of this photo taken on a particularly stormy day this summer. I had skyscapes on my mind and was keen to build up my reference material for future paintings when I took this photo.

 I also had on my desk a new set of pastels I had purchased but had yet to try: Mount Vision’s Thunderstorm Grey set. So I decided to give this set a whirl!

Here are some progress shots:

Blocking in


All was going well, when…..CRASH!!!!!!!!!!

Over went my easel with my painting AND my set of Thunderstorm Greys….it had all crashed to the floor. 😦

Needless to say, this was quite upsetting and was the first time something like this had ever happened.
I spent the next half hour picking up and sorting broken shards of pastel off of the floor, vacuuming, and mopping up the mess.
The painting had a little damage, but nothing too bad.

More than anything, I was disheartened. 

Lesson #1:
Every month or so, check all the knobs on your easel to make sure they are hand tight—especially when the seasons change, as the changes in humidity levels can dramatically affect your easel’s stability!

After the “incident”, I returned to my little storm cloud painting, determined to complete it and get it off of my easel before another catastrophe.  But my paper (Uart Dark) was running out of tooth, so I decided to experiment with a new product: Blair Low Odor Fixative. Another artist I admire uses this fixative with great results, so I thought I would give it a go.

Fixative Fiasco?

As you can see from the picture above, it didn’t go so well…the blotchiness and spatters were NOT intended….

Lesson #2:
Don’t experiment on a painting you really like with something that might ruin your painting!


But I pressed on.

Indeed, I didn’t give up.  I figured, “Hey, what do I have to lose?”

Almost there….

Turns out, the blotchiness and spatters didn’t stop me from developing the painting further…whew!

Lesson #3: 
As I looked down at all the little pieces of broken pastels on my tray, I was reminded that

I really do believe that. So I gathered all the broken pieces together and reconstituted them into “new” pastels.

The Reconstituted Pastels: Their shape may not be pretty, but their colors still are!

“Never Give Up” 6×8 pastel on Uart


Lesson #4:
If I had given up after my easel crashed and broke my pastels, or after I “ruined” my painting with the fixative, I wouldn’t have gotten my end result.


Never Give Up. 

When every day can be a choice between hope and despair, never give up.

Never give up on life. Never give up your dreams. Never give up striving to be light and salt in a dark and troubled world. 

Never. Give. Up.

Blessings to you all this Christmas season.

Till next time,
Stay creative!





New Pastels! The Mount Vision Thunderstorm set

Hello creative friends!  

I thought I would share some color charts and a painting I completed recently using Mount Vision’s 25 piece “Thunderstorm Grey” set.


This set is full of beautifully greyed-down colors, as you might expect! I was a little surprised to see a few greens in it, but they turned out to be super helpful in the little study I painted using this set exclusively.

Here is a teaser of the colors on two different papers: Uart 500 and an unknown white, textured paper.

 These pastels are wonderful. They are really large and easily break into thirds, which makes them economical and easy to spread out into different boxes. I put a third into my plein air pastel box, a third into my studio box, and the other third on reserve for when it’s time to reorder.

And here is the study I painted using this set only.

“Never Give Up”

More on this study, including progress shots, in a future post. 

Till then, keep creating!