Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pastel Musings

Summer Ripples (16 x 20 pastel on panel)

I thought I'd dig into my archives for today's post. In looking back through my postings, it's been awhile since I've posted a pastel.
The board for this painting was green.

And I mean a warm green similar to the middle value of the trees on the right. That made the sky pretty difficult, since I didn't want any of the color showing through. I might as well have started with white. I had to work with the panel flat, so that when I colored in the sky, all the extra dust stayed on the surface. I could then take an old paintbrush and gently work it into the crevasses. After that, I used my finger to build up the pigment so that the green was completely hidden.

Next came the golden hill and the faraway trees, which I wanted to keep especially cool. The color of the foliage in this picture is different from the forests around the Midwest in that the overall color temperature is cooler. I had to keep that in the forefront of my mind since my tendency is to use the warm greens that are found in Illinois.

For the beach, I found out just how many uses Great American's Violet Grey has. It's great for sky as well as rocks.

The grasses along the side went in easily. I was please that I chose a warmer color for the tassels. Then the reflections went in, and finally the moving water with the reflected sky.

The water was the part I was the most nervous about. I had just finished Summer Idyll and Chinook, where the water worked out great. But those were still waters, and the little ripples in this one made me unsure. But I looked at them as colors and shapes and recreated them rather than trying to represent ripples. It was really quite easy. After laying down the darker Neptune and Bismark (and maybe some Navy), I was able to scumble Denim over the surface, and viola! ripples.

But I've decided that I love painting water. There are so many variables - the lighting, the distance of the reflected items from the edge of the water, the cloud cover, the wind, etc. It's a great challenge. I think that growing up on lakefront property helps a lot, too. I have a firm memory base of what water looks like in various states, and I believe this basic understanding helps a lot in my landscape painting.

Keep noticing the details!
Pastel Guy - landscapes in pastel - handmade jewelry for sale

Friday, November 28, 2008


Earlier this fall, I rambled on about green, but now it's time to talk about my favorite color, red.

I took this picture of my yellow-leaved pineapple sage right before the frost got it earlier this month. Our house is a reddish colored brick, with black shutters and white trim, so I use red flowers to accent the beds out front.

We have a big yard. Our property is just over 2 acres, with a lot of it still in woods, but the front is probably about as wide as three subdivision lots. There's a half-circle drive where I have a big grassy area in the front, but off to the sides are some big beds under huge oak trees. Instead of trying to mow around them all, I underplanted them with viburnum, hydrangea, azaleas, fern, hosta, and even some redbud trees, which are our state tree, and are naturally found in the understory. For accent colors, I plant bright red impatiens along the edge. There is also a planting of bight red Freedom hedge roses (the most amazing red color ever!), and a cherry red crepe myrtle.

When I find a picture of the whole yard, I'll post it. It's taken about 7 years, but it's finally looking grown in.

And there y'have more randomness about me. I think this is the first posting about gardening, which is odd, actually. Because I'm totally obsessed. I'm one of those who knows all the plants by their scientific names, and when my wife asks what something is called, I can't remember the common name.

Until next time,

PastelGuy - pastel paintings - handmade jewelry for sale

Thursday, November 27, 2008


This morning started with my son climbing into bed with us at 6 am.

That in and of itself is not a bad thing. He's a cuddle bug and doesn't tend to sleep sideways like the other one does...

The killer is that it's Thanksgiving. A holiday.

And for some funny reason, now that I'm a dad, I can't seem to go back to sleep once I'm awakened past the hour of, say, 5:30 am. I used to be a sleeping champ.

Now I'm just like my grandma.

The problem is that I just lie there and my brain kicks into creativity mode without waiting for the warmup. Today I had one side of my brain working on the composition for a pastel picture I want to do as a Christmas gift. The other side was working on how I could work in a tile mosaic floor somewhere in our house, and somewhere in the middle, I had possible scenes for a large scale stained glass window for the wall behind our bar downstairs. Then every once in a while, the practical side would jump in and try to think of ways to market all these great ideas so I could make all this my full-time job.

I finally just got up. Sigh. Maybe some tryptophan and alcohol will slow the old brain down a little later on...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I'm thankful to have started this blog, and for everyone who comments so faithfully, like Brandy, EM, and Kay.

Pastel Guy

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Peek in My Sketchbook

Janice, a fellow jewelry blogger, gave me a great idea for today's blog: a glimpse at my sketchbook. Actually, my jewelry ideas are kept on scraps of paper (the white one, below, is the back of one of my son's papers from school), while my pastels sketches are in a proper sketchbook. ...(don't ask) They then get clipped on a post in my garage ("studio"). See pic, above.

This page shows a couple of earring ideas plus a couple of pendant ideas. I've come close to making the ones on the top left, but kinda forgot about the others. Hmmm.

These two yellow pages show a few more earring ideas which were sketched on scrap paper and tacked up on my Idea Post. You can see that the last one here on the bottom has some notes next to it. I actually made these and made notes to myself for the next time I work with this motif. In fact, this idea led me to make my fuschia earrings which sell very well, and that I have for sale on Etsy (see link, above).

So, thanks, Janice, for your inspiration today. If nothing else, it made me revisit these ideas, and gave me some renewed inspiration for this weekend!

Happy arting!
Pastel (and jewelry) Guy - pastels - handmade jewelry

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Random Photo Day

Flathead Lake, Montana, USA

This picture was taken on our trip out west this last summer (sorry the horizon is not level. I guess that's what happens when your driving and photographing at the same time!). Now that it is wintery outside, I think I may make this the wallpaper on my computer.

The is the decent off the terminal moraine at the north end of the Mission Valley into the town of Polson, where I went to school. Flathead Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. This photo just shows the bay at the southern end. Those are the Mission Mountains in the distance. My folks had a house on the lake up the west shore near Big Arm. It would take my sister and me 45 minutes to ride the bus to school - and we were one of the last ones to get on in the morning, and the first to get off in the afternoon.

One of my fellow Etsy montanateam members mentioned how fierce the winters were in the 1970s. If that is true, then the winters when we used to ice skate across the frozen Big Arm Bay to the islands were unusual by today's standards. Sound travels so much better over ice that the coyotes on Wild Horse Island would sound as if they were in your back yard, and when the ice melted and cracked the creepy eeeerrrroinnnng would wake you up at night.

The blue dot below shows about where our house was. You can see the couple of islands we would visit to the north and east.

So that's probably more than you wanted to know, but there y'have it.

Until tomorrow!
Pastel Guy - pastel paintings - handmade jewelry for sale

Monday, November 24, 2008

So Many Options...

Earlier last week, I had another mini craft fair. This is when I take my jewelry to one of the local schools and set it up in the teachers' lounge for a couple of days. It's all on the honors system - I leave it there unattendend, and faculty and staff shops, leaving their checks and cash in a manilla envelope. They even have the option of signing an IOU sheet. So far that arrangement has worked just fine. Turns out I sold 18 pairs of earrings last week. Eighteeen pairs of mostly brown earrings. That means that I have to come up with 18 new designs to replenish my display board for the next mini craft fair.

Just when I think there's no way I'll be able to accomplish that, I pull out my styrofoam plates of beads and stare. Pretty soon the creative juices start flowing, and I can start cranking them out. The picture above is just one of my plates of dark brown. I also have light brown/amber, a couple different greens, a couple blues, black, turquoise, red, pink, pearls, etc.

See, I used to put each bead type in a little compartmentalized box. Then I started buying strands by the bagful, and so that took way to much organization for the right side of my brain to handle. So I decided that I should just arrange them as if they were a palette, and put all the similarly colored beads together, hence the styrofoam plates which were sturdier than paper. What I really need are stackable trays.

This organizational system is actually how I came up with my random designed jewlery, where there's no pattern, just a random assortment of beads strung together, either as a bracelet, a necklace or as a cuff. When you have all these great colors and shapes staring you in the face, it's hard to decide which ones to use. Why not use them all? With a symmetrical design, there would be no way to fit them all in without making it look stupid, and basically random anyway.

The fun comes when you take a handful from one plate and mix it with a handful from another plate. It's mixing colors just like paint! I've ended up with some great combinations: champagne and pearls, dark brown and turquoise, and pastels, just to name a few (the bummer is then separating them back out again once the piece is finished!).

So, I'm off to make some earrings...

Until tomorrow,
PastelGuy - pastel paintings - handmade jewelry for sale

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Guesting Day

Today, I'm guest blogging on another blog, The Big Sky Montana Etsy Team, of which I am a proud member!

This posting is a story that shows how tragedy can result in beauty. While ranching and grizzly bears don't mix, a member of our Etsy team is able to make the cutest little lambs you've ever seen, despite the fact that the bears ate all her real ones. This is her story.

Pastel Guy - pastel paintings - handmade jewelry for sale