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Summer Rain Pastel Painting

Summer Rain Pastel is about those great evening thunderstorms that happen during the summer. We haven’t had many thunderstorms this year and the last time it rained was the beginning of May. So, in memory of my favorite summertime weather, I painted a pastel of a great storm that happened across the lake from us earlier this year.

Dark and ominous clouds built up rapidly this particular day and the wind went from non existent to almost hurricane force within 30 minutes! We sat under the covered deck and watched the storm roll in from the west. Hail and wind combined with frequent thunder and lightening strikes, made for an exciting evening. As fast as it arrived, it was over, sadly. But we were left with a brilliant bright rainbow with the orange and yellow hues being the most prevalent.

Behind the rainbow, the rain turned orange and to the west, blue sky started to appear, while dark clouds still lingered above. It was great! I hope we get some summer rain soon, because everything is becoming toasty dry in the west. Not only that, I love rain, especially when it comes with thunder and lightening! It is said that rain is a gift from God, and I believe that to be true.

Summer Storm Pastel

Summer Rain Pastel was painted on wine PastelMat paper and is approx. 10″x8″ in size. I’m very pleased with how the clouds turned out and I tried not to blend the pastel too much. The distant mountains turned out very nice and I love the blue sky poking out. My only difficult passages were the trees and the rainbow. The soft dark pastels I used for the trees made it difficult to blend the other lighter colors around each tree, and it was hard keeping those colors from becoming too muted, especially in the rainbow. I wanted to show rain coming down above the rainbow and I feel that was successful. Overall, I’m happy with this piece and feel it says something about weather and summer storms.

I hope you’re having a great summer! And as I like to offer…a public service announcement during the summer: For those of you who love to go camping, please be fire smart and remember a dead fire is a cold fire! Please use water and douse your campfire until you can put your hand over it and feel no heat! Also, leave no trace; pack it in, pack it out. Don’t leave your trash behind!

Until next blog post, thanks for stopping by! Much Love ~ Rhonda

  • Biking the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes Pastel
  • Granite Cove Pastel
  • The Red Spinnaker Sail
  • "Summertime" Pastel Painting
  • The Golden Hour
  • Sunset in the Park Pastel
  • “Sunset Magic” Pastel
  • Sparkle Pastel Painting
  • The Sun Drenched Meadow
  • The Red Barn pastel
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Sunset in the Park Pastel

Sunset in the Park is this week’s pastel work and is part of my ongoing series called The Beauty of Idaho. For those who are new here, I started a landscape series in pastel, on Feb. 25 this year, as a tribute to our beautiful state of Idaho.

This new work depicts a sunset in our nearby 4,000 acre state park called Farragut. Farragut State Park is a destination playground for many folks in the Pacific Northwest. It has cabins, rv/tent campgrounds, disk golf, fishing, boating, hiking, horseback riding trails as well as biking trails. All summer long as one drives by the park entrance, the sign is always out, which says “Park is full”. One needs a reservation a year in advance in order to stay for a weekend or longer trip! Luckily, day passes are available for those not wanting to camp.

Anyway, here’s my finished piece:

Sunset in the Park Pastel

I was drawn to the mesmerizing colors of the setting sun driving by the park one night, as the pine trees were silhouetted against a vibrant pink and orange sunset. I puller over and snapped a few photos, then stood in silent awe at the scene before me. The sun went down so quickly and within minutes it was over.

I love sunsets and in the summer it seems they are so outstanding. This is when we get the big cumulous clouds and sunsets become magical. I’ve taken many, many photos of sunsets in times past, but here in the northwest, they are the best. So, I decided to include this pastel painting, “Sunset in the Park”, as part of my landscape series.

Sunset in the Park pastel painting is approx. 10.75″ x 7.5″ and was painted on white PastelMat paper. I used a watercolor underpainting to help with the vibrance of the scene and as a guide to paint with. Before starting the piece I did a few thumbnails and a watercolor sketch in my sketchbooks. I also picked out a few preliminary sticks to begin.

Preliminary work for Sunset in the Park

I used a Moleskin watercolor notebook for the watercolor sketch and I must say, I’m not a fan. The paper buckles and there is too much sizing, preventing the watercolor from saturating the paper. It seems the watercolor just sits on top of the paper and when it dries its dull. So this book will just be used for studio studies of paintings and not taken in the field. I don’t use sketchbooks that don’t have good feedback and response to the materials because it’s not fun.

The kraft paper sketchbook is something new for me and I’m not sure about this one either. The paper is rather thin, and absorbs markers too fast. Pastel does well on it, but pencil looks dull. So again, this will not get much use other than for thumbnail sketches. Maybe Gouache would be better suited for this type of paper. I’ll have to order some and try it out. You never know, it could become my new found sketchbook love if I use gouache!

I didn’t include the Studio Mascots, Alistair and Cordelia, in this post because I’ve not received enough feedback from readers as to whether anyone finds them funny, or annoying. Only one person has commented about them and she thought it was hilarious. Thank you for that! I think it’s funny, but then I have a weird sense of humor. So let me know in the comments below if Alistair and Cordelia should continue with their art critiques or if they should be done away with!

Until next time, have a super week! Much Love as always. ~ Rhonda

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The Red Spinnaker Sail

Recently, I finished my latest work entitled The Red Spinnaker Sail. It was inspired by a sailing regatta a few weekends ago, which you can read about in my previous post, HERE. The sailboats were headed downwind and the winds were very light, so they all had their spinnaker sails out to give them more air.

Every week our local sailing club has races on Wednesdays and Sundays. We happened upon a race when launching our boat a few weekends ago, and there was a beautiful yellow sailboat with a red spinnaker sail, speedily passing by. My attention was caught by the vibrant red sail and so I snapped a few pics before it was gone, and created this painting.

(The Tamarack Mountain Studio Watermark is not on the painting.)

The Red Spinnaker Sail was painted on 9″ x 12″ white Pastelmat paper, with pan pastels and soft pastel sticks. I used Pan Pastels for my underpainting. The Pan Pastels are very soft, even softer than soft pastel sticks. They are applied with a specific type sponge made especially for these pastels. I used the pastel knives with sponge tips, which you can purchase with the pan pastels, as my application. They are too soft for my liking to be used as a final product, but made a perfect surface for an underpainting. I had to be careful not to apply too much of the pan pastel on my paper because the build up of pastel would be achieved too soon. I am not one who likes to use fixative, for many reasons, so getting an overabundance of pastel on the paper is always on the back of my mind. Once the tooth of the paper is gone, it’s very difficult to add more pastel.

There were many other colorful sailboats with awesome spinnakers but I chose to portray the red spinnaker because of it’s complimentary color scheme with the forest. Here’s a sailboat with a blue spinnaker that was just gorgeous!

The Blue Spinnaker Sail

I decided not to paint this sailboat because there would have been too much blue and not enough contrast. I love how the colorful sails are reflected in the water. That was another visual that caught my attention of the red spinnaker, the reflection of red in the water!

The studio mascots, Alistair and Cordelia have decided to make an appearance and are engaged in a meaningful discussion of The Red Spinnaker Sail. Let’s listen in:

Alistair and Cordelia critique the Red Spinnaker Sail

“Cordelia, what do you think of this pastel painting with the Red Spinnaker Sail?”

“Well Al, you know I love sailing! It’s my favorite activity when it’s hot. You notice how my outfit goes well with the colors in the painting?”

“Why yes Cordelia, you are always well dressed. But I wonder what your thoughts are on this particular painting we are viewing?”

“My thoughts? Well, that big sail sure is bright red!”

“Yes indeed Cordelia. Do you like the painting?”

“Yellow is not my favorite color, nor is red. I prefer the more subtle colors of orange and teal, as you can see by my outfit.”

“Oh Cordelia, you jest. I can never get a straight answer out of you!”

“Let’s go Alistair, I’ve looked at the sailboat painting long enough. I guess it’s nice. But I don’t like red.”

I think we’ve had enough of Alistair and Cordelia. I never take them seriously anyway, but they can be fun. I mean, does anyone think this is funny besides me?

What do you think of “The Red Spinnaker Sail” pastel painting?

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, much love and happy Summer! ~ Rhonda

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A Plein Air Adventure

This past weekend was just beautiful and perfect for a plein air adventure. We loaded up the boat with all our gear for a day out on Lake Pend Orielle which consisted of fishing rods, pastel gear and lunch.

We left early before the weekend crowd hit the lake, and launched during a sailing regatta which was so much fun to watch! It was wonderful to see all the colorful spinnakers as the sailboats headed downwind to the first buoy.


After watching the sailboat race for awhile, to which I took lots of photos for future paintings, we headed out to find a spot to beach the boat. We came to a place on the lake called Granite Peak and found a beautiful lagoon where we had the place to ourselves. It was time for lunch so we broke out the cooler and made some delicious sammies.

After lunch, I rounded up my plain air pastels and accompanying gear and found a nice spot on the beach to paint a beautiful scene, while my husband fished.

Plein Air painting at Granite Cove

Plein air painting with pastel

I took the mini pastel box so my pastel was small, approx. 6″x8″. I used grey PastelMat paper and a variety of soft pastels. It’s hard for me to use such a small amount of colors on a painting, and longed for my big palette back in the studio. The next day, I revamped my colors in the box and hopefully now have it worked out to the necessary landscape colors I need for my next adventure. As you can see, why would I need so many pink colors? Beats me! Those are now gone and I added in more greys and browns.

The scene and mini pastel box

I love the lime green color of the water as it reflects the trees and then how it blends to blue from the reflection of the sky. It’s like eye candy to me! At one point my husband moved around to a rock on the bank in front of me so he became part of my painting. He had a great day fishing and caught six trout within the first hour! I had a great time on my plein air adventure too!

My depiction of the scene isn’t exactly like it was, but I feel I captured the essence of the landscape. This painting is titled Granite Peak Pastel and will become an addition to my series called the Beauty of Idaho. Here’s the finished piece:

Granite Cove pastel

The reason for the name of this area is all the rock walls of granite. There’s also a lot of granite rocks on the beach and in the shallow lagoon. The trees on top of the granite outcrop are leaning over from all the strong storms we’ve had this year. There were a few fallen trees laying on the top of the granite wall. I am always amazed that trees can grow in such rocky areas. Further up the mountain is a cave where someone long ago did some mining.

I think I will tackle a sailboat painting next and see how that works out. I recently purchased some pan pastels and am looking forward to trying them out. I’ll share my experience with them in my next post. Until then, thanks for stopping by! Please hit the like button so my posts can move up in the algorithm stats and more folks will be able to see these blog posts! I really appreciate it! Much love and Blessings! ~ Rhonda

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Chives Pastel Painting

This week I took a break from my landscape series to create Chives Pastel painting on PastelMat paper. I planted chives in the greenhouse last year and now they’ve tripled in size and have beautiful purple flowers. I cut a small bouquet and brought them in the studio to use as a reference before they are gone.

I honestly don’t know why I planted chives because I really don’t use them in my cooking. I like chives on baked potatoes every once in awhile, but that’s all I know to use them for. I guess it’s the pretty purple flowers that I really like most of all.

Chives Pastel Painting
Chives Pastel

Chives pastel painting is about 7.5″ x 10.5″ and painted on dark grey paper with Terry Ludwig and Unison soft pastels. I laid in the initial drawing with hard Nupastels and used a chamois to smooth out the background underpainting. Once all my underpainting was complete I used the soft pastels to build up the flowers. The vase was just a combo of all the colors smoothed into the shape of the vase and then highlights added at the end to define the shape.

It all came together rather easily but I’m still finding holes in my palette with respect to sticks I still need. I think to my self, “I need this dark color here” and go to my box to see if I have what’s in mind and no stick! Bummer. So earlier this week I made another order for more sticks! Once they arrived I made color swatches of each one in my sketchbook to make reordering easier later on.

New pastels

Can one actually ever have enough pastels? I don’t know. But opening a box of brand new pastels brings me back to childhood when on the first day of school, each student would find a brand new box of crayons, a new pencil, books and paper at our desks. I loved opening the box of crayons and seeing all the shiny new colors. I guess the art monkey found me at a very young age! I still remember finger painting in kindergarten and thinking that was the most fun a kid could ever have.

Well, that’s all I have to share this week. I hope you have a fabulous weekend, and I’ll be back next week with another pastel painting to share. Thanks for stopping by! Remember to hit that like button so my posts can move up in the algorithm rankings! Much Love ~ Rhonda

Note: If you click on each image above you’ll be able to see a larger single image in a Lightbox effect which is pretty cool!