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“Sparkle” Pastel Painting

Today I’m happy to share with you my newest pastel painting entitled “Sparkle”, which depicts the magical glow at sunset, when the light makes everything sparkle. This scene describes the season of Fall on a nearby lake called, Spirit Lake in northern Idaho. It is the second painting in my new landscape series called The Beauty of Idaho, which I introduced in my prior post.

Sparkle Pastel Painting

A few years ago my husband and I spent the weekend at a local resort that had cabins on the waterfront. The resort is called Silver Beach Resort. The area reminded me of an old time vacation spot that you might find in the Catskill mountains, or perhaps a place kids go for summer camp back in the day. It was really quaint and the cabin we stayed in was very small, but so cute. It was late fall and we were the last guests of the season so we had the place to ourselves.

The reference photo I used to create this painting was taken while we were out fishing as the sun was setting. We were the only ones out on the lake and it was so peaceful and beautiful. There were no fish to be had that evening but the sunset was a perfect ending to a fun day. I spent a few hours searching my backup hard drive to find photos of the cabin to share with you, but no luck. If you click the link above you can see some of the photos of the cabins on their website. We stayed in cabin #3, which had no bathroom, so we had to use the community bathroom and showers. The tv only had an antenna which picked up one or two local stations but no worries, as we were there for the outdoor activities anyway.

“Sparkle” pastel painting was painted on grey Pastel Mat paper and is approximately 9″x9″. I used a variety of soft and hard pastels to create the piece. I spent about two days working on this painting to get the lighting correct as well as describing the lake. There weren’t any major problems to solve and it went very well making the whole experience very enjoyable. I absolutely love working with pastels!

I will be taking some time off to do some architectural drafting for my part time employer, and will be back when I have a new painting to share. Until then, much love! ~ Rhonda

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” –Leonardo da Vinci

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The Sun Drenched Meadow

A few years back I drove past this little farm and the sun drenched meadow had parts of shade and sun due to cumulous clouds drifting by. A part of the meadow was so beautiful and bright with flowers and new spring growth that I had to pull over and shoot a photo. I was drawn to the contrast of light and dark and the red barn in the distance.

This pastel painting is the first in my new series of landscape pastel paintings entitled “The Beauty of Idaho”. The series will include sunsets, mountain vistas, lakes and rivers and more pastures with farms. Idaho is a beautiful state especially the northern area where I live, and so I want to pay homage to my home state.

"The Sun Drenched Meadow"

The Sun Drenched Meadow

Painted on 8″x9.5″ green Pastel Mat paper.

I think the green pastel paper was a great enhancement to the palette and allowed me to use it as a starting point when laying in my colors. I allowed parts of the paper to show through which gave texture to the meadow. On this piece I used an alcohol wash after applying some preliminary color and I can say I am not a fan of this method. The alcohol changed the texture of the paper and gave me some trouble with building up the layers. I won’t be using this method again. I much prefer using watercolor if its necessary, to create a preliminary wash such as on white pastel paper.

Painting the flowers was great fun and I had to be careful not to overdo it! My favorite part in painting the piece was laying in the sun drenched field and creating the shadows made from the clouds. Standing back and looking at the painting on my easel I had a great feeling of accomplishment. The painting seemed to just pop off the easel with vibrancy! I wish you could see it in person, because the photo doesn’t do the painting justice. Photos flatten subjects and one can’t see all the sparkle this pastel has to offer. I think this is why I’ve fallen in love with pastels, the sparkle! Plus, the immediacy of the medium itself and being able to paint intuitively, which suits me the best, is another reason I enjoy pastels.

The Sun Drenched Meadow pastel is available in the gallery. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did painting it! Until next time, thanks for stopping by! Much Love ~ Rhonda

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European Robin in Pastel

Today, I bring you the end of the Birds in Pastel series, with a painting of a European robin. I chose to paint a European robin because of their colorful plumage. Our typical robins in the U.S. are not as pretty as the European variety, in my opinion. The European robin has beautiful feathers of bright orange on the breast surrounded by lovely tones of blue. Their back feathers are that of olive green and brown, and they have a white underbelly. What a wonderful complimentary color scheme and perfect to depict in pastel.

The European robin was painted on a 6″x8″ black UArt pastel board with a limited palette of soft pastels. Since robins love water, I painted this little guy next to a puddle. Perhaps he’s about to take a bath?

European robin

Robins have a funny shaped body, don’t they? They are so fat as birds go; probably because they eat too many worms and bugs! What I love about robins is how they take a bath after they’ve eaten and before they go to bed each night. I think that’s so cute. What I don’t love about them, is they start singing at 3:30 in the morning in the spring and summer. Our local robins migrate and come back in the spring, so that gives me winter as a break from being awaken early in the morning by a robin.

There is one more bird I may paint in this series, and that’s a Western Flycatcher. For now, Im going to switch over to landscapes. This was a really fun series to do and I liked painting the feathers on the birds most of all. I learned if I stroke a pastel stick upwards it makes a perfect feather. I also learned if I get too much pastel on the paper it becomes hard to manipulate and so now I lay it in and call it good. Once is good enough!

Thank you for your interest in my work and I look forward to bringing you more. Until next time ~ much Love, ~ Rhonda

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Song Sparrow in Pastel

This week I painted a Song Sparrow in pastel as a continuation of the Birds in Pastel series. Song Sparrows are one of many species of Sparrow. We have an abundance of Sparrows visit the bird feeder everyday and they sing such happy songs! They take great delight in knocking seeds out of the feeder so their friends can eat too! Those birds that don’t fit on the feeder eat the seeds that fall to the ground. It’s a great idea for the birds, but not so much for us; the feeder ends up empty way too soon! I think since they are typically a ground forager, the knocking seeds to the ground is something they just do because they’d rather eat on the ground. That’s pretty smart if you ask me.

Song Sparrow in Pastel

Song Sparrow in Pastel was painted on 9″x12″ green Pastel Mat paper with soft pastels. My palette consisted of muted cool greens and purples for the background, juxtaposed with the rich warm tones for the foreground. Since the species isn’t very colorful I used vibrant colors to surround the bird to make him sort of pop.

I used my own photo reference for this piece which I was lucky enough to get very close to the Sparrow before he flew away. He might have been an old bird because I felt like I could almost touch him if I moved slowly. He just sat there on the edge of the deck as if he didn’t see me. Or perhaps they are just not that afraid of people, because my husband was able to get very close to a Sparrow sitting at the feeder a few weeks ago:

Song Sparrow at the Feeder

This Sparrow might be a little female. She was sleeping on the feeder when my husband came upon her. I thought about using this photo as a reference but then decided it wasn’t interesting enough. The bird feeder hangs on the side of the greenhouse and adds a bit of whimsy to the area.

Well that’s all I have to share for now. I completed another bird pastel yesterday and will share soon.I’ll give you a little hint of what it is….Blue and Orange feathers. Can you guess what it is? Thanks for stopping by! As always, much Love ~ Rhonda

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15 Sticks and 10 Minutes

Last week I took a little break from my Birds in Pastel series, and worked on an exercise called 15 Sticks and 10 Minutes. The paintings are small landscapes about 4″x5″ in size. The 15 sticks and 10 minutes exercise is meant to help one loosen up and not become bogged down in details. How it works is by preselecting 15 pastels to represent the color palette of a chosen reference photo. Then a timer is set for 10 minutes and one is supposed to complete the pastel painting in 10 minutes. After completing this task, the exercise changes to 10 sticks and 5 minutes. Whaaat?

Well, this was a hard exercise for me! I tried and tried and when the timer would go off, I didn’t have my sky in or most of anything else. Finally, after many tries, I was able to finish a painting within the allotted time. It was a mess but it was discernible as a landscape:

15 sticks and 10 minutes
15 Sticks and 10 Minutes

I was completely frustrated and lamented to my husband how I felt so incompetent at not being able to do this exercise. He asked me a very interesting question after showing him the winter scene above. He said ” Well that’s not bad, but why are we trying to rush it?” I responded that its an exercise to help me loosen up and then he said “I like to know what I’m looking at.”

I agreed and decided to bring the painting to a more finished look:

15 sticks and 10 minutes exercise -
Snow Day pastel painting
“Snow Day”

“Snow Day” is a 4″x5″ pastel, painted on grey PastelMat paper. The reference photo I used was from about 15 years ago and was taken in the Sierra Nevadas. The lighting is awful in the photo because I was passing by this scene midday and had no other choice but to click it for future reference. The colors were greatly enhanced in the painting to compensate for the washed out photo. I like how it ended up as a finished piece.

Here are the other pastel landscapes paintings that were a part of this exercise series:

Dandelion Fields Pastel Painting
“Dandelion Fields”
15 sticks and 10 minutes exercise 
Surf's Up Pastel Painting
“Surf’s Up”

The Road around the Lake pastel painting
“The Road Around the Lake”

(The Tamarack Mountain Studio watermark is not on any original paintings. This is done for online purposes only.)

I won’t give up on this exercise and will be trying out the second part of only using 10 pastel sticks and trying to paint in 5 minutes. That will be interesting for me!

Currently on my easel is a pastel of a Sparrow that I’m finishing with highlights and details, for the Birds in Pastel series. I will share the new painting this week.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great week! Much Love ~ Rhonda