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A critique of “Miss Chicken”

A critique of “Miss Chicken” provided by Alistair and Cordelia, the studio mascots:

Alistair and Cordelia provide a critique of "Miss Chicken".
Alistair and Cornelia critique “Miss Chicken”

“Alistair, look at that pastel titled “Miss Chicken!”. Blue tail feathers?” “Really?” critiques the lovely Cordelia.

“Well Cordelia, you see this is art not a photograph. Of course chickens don’t have blue tail feathers in REAL life!” replies the ever knowledgeable Alistair.

“The title of the piece is “Miss Chicken” so maybe she thinks she’s hot.” surmises Cordelia.

“Perhaps, but then again, maybe the artist used her artistic license to create a colorful passage that we as the audience would enjoy. What do you think?” asks Alistair.

Alistair and Cordelia critique the "Miss Chicken "pastel

Alistair points out the the red wattle and comb and explains to Cordelia how the red and blue colors make the painting pop.

“You see Cordelia, the saturated colors of the comb and tail feathers balance out the more neutral colors of the main body feathers. It’s brilliant.” explains Alistair.

“Well maybe, but I’m not a fan of chicken paintings, Al. I’m a city girl, you know.”

“I mean the last painting we saw was of a Red Barn, which I’m not used to seeing because I live in the city. When will we see something different?” whines Cordelia.

“Oh Cordelia you jest!” amuses Alistair.

Let’s ignore the studio mascots, shall we?

As you see, my latest pastel is of a chicken. I just had to paint this chicken after being inspired by a video from Marla Bagetta. I love chickens and when I saw her paint this one I had to have one of my own. Of course our styles are very different and I really love how hers came out, but I’m pleased with mine. I took a little break from painting landscapes to do this chicken, which was really fun.

"Miss Chicken"

“Miss Chicken” was painted on Buttercup PastelMat paper and is approximately 9.5″ x 8.5″. I used a variety of hard and soft pastels from Terry Ludwig, Unison and Girault as well as Nupastel. My painting is more linear and controlled whereas Marlas painting is loose and freeform.

I have tried to paint the way she paints and I just can’t figure out how to do it. I thought if I used pastels it would help me to loosen up but this must just be the way I paint. Painting is like one’s signature, and reflects our nature. I’m somewhat of an introvert and a neat nut.

I have been paying attention to this phenomenon for awhile now and have discovered that an artist’s essence and personality comes through in their work. It’s really quite amazing. Just because I’m introverted and neat doesn’t mean anything bad, it’s just me. Some folks don’t like that but it’s okay. We can’t please everyone, right? I think this stems from my upbringing whereby my parents believed children should be seen and not heard. My mother despised dirt and would make my sisters and I pick up lint from the carpet after she had just vacuumed. I know! But whatever, I’m not able to change even though I’ve tried, and at my age its not worth it. But I will pursue a more loose style of painting and believe it or not the pastels are helping in my quest. Mainly, I’m having fun and that’s the whole point!

Currently on my easel is a pastel of a sunset and that’s really fun! In between getting the veggie gardens ready for the upcoming season, and planting my seeds to start indoors, painting has taken a bit of a back burner, but I’ll share as soon as it’s finished.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed “Miss Chicken” as much as I did painting her!

Until next time, much love! ~ Rhonda

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“The Red Barn” Pastel

Alistair and Cordelia critique the barn pastel

“Cordelia, what are your thoughts about this “Red Barn” pastel?” asks Alistair of the lovely Cordelia.

“Well, Alistair, can I call you Al?”

“Why of course, all my friends call me Al!”

“Ok, Al. My thoughts on the “Red Barn” pastel are mixed. I do like the juxtaposition of the complimentary color palette, although I’m not a fan of overly green paintings. I don’t care for humdrum barn paintings as it were. I’m a city girl you know. But I must say there is something about this barn pastel that I like and can’t quite put my finger on it.”

“Cordelia, my sweet, you amaze me every day with your intellect!” “I like the daisies in the foreground. You didn’t see them? Look! I thought you liked daisies!”

“Why Al, you remembered that I like daisies! Yes I like those and the tall brown flower things on the left, whatever those are.”

“Me too! Well I’ve seen enough. Let’s do lunch. I’m starving!”

“I’m for that Al. Let’s get out of here!” amuses Cordelia.

I never listen to them. By the way, those tall plants on the left are dried up Mullens. Mullens grow like crazy here and are a beneficial plant. Mullen is used to help with respiratory issues and coughs.

Here’s my latest addition to the Beauty of Idaho series, called “The Red Barn” Pastel:

The Red Barn pastel

“The Red Barn” pastel was painted with hard and soft pastels on tan PastelMat paper. I used an alcohol wash underpainting to set the mood for the painting. I wanted to depict an old time look to the piece and feel I achieved that using mostly pink undertones.

This is one of my favorite barns in our area and sits in the middle of a large field next to the woods. I’ve always been drawn to barns and old wood, especially old buildings that are in disarray . Idaho is mostly a rural state and there are many farms with interesting barns dotting the landscape. This particular barn is nicely maintained and every spring lots of daisies grow in the pastures. The scene is so picturesque that driving by one day I had to stop and take a photo, knowing I would have to paint it.

{The Tamarack Mountain Studio watermark is not on the original painting.}

I hope you enjoyed this pastel and the musings of the studio mascots, Alistair and Cordelia. Until next time, much love! ~Rhonda

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Poinsettia in Pastel

Merry Christmas!

Recently, I purchased a few poinsettia plants to decorate for the holidays. They are displayed in the living room and look so festive! I just love Poinsettias.

I also treated myself to a large order of new pastels! I finally got some rich reds that my palette was lacking. This haul of pastels is my Christmas gift to me.

Pastels and supplies

See the lower center small box of pastels with all the tones of red? That box inspired me to paint one of the Poinsettia plants and I had a great time doing so! Here’s the finished piece, “Poinsettia in Pastel”, which will be framed as a 5”x7” and used in the future as part of my Christmas decor…

Poinsettia  Pastel
Poinsettia in Pastel

Here’s a photo of the studio still life setup:

Studio  still life setup

My poinsettia plant is a bit thin in the leaves department because I almost killed both of them! The poinsettias are on the fireplace hearth where they don’t get my constant attention and I forget to check them daily for water. One day, I happened to look at the fireplace and both Poinsettias were wilted! “That’s just great”, I thought!

I rushed the plants into the kitchen and gave them long drinks. One perked up right away, the other was too far gone and lost most of its leaves. The one in the studio is the Poinsettia that survived the best, so I thought I’d better paint it before it’s gone, cause I just might forget to water them again.

All my shopping is done, and gifts have been shipped. I baked some Christmas sugar cookies using a new recipe off the back of the flour bag. Let’s just say that it was a wasted day, sadly. The recipe was awful and the cookies reflected that! We stomached a handful of them and threw the rest in the trash. Even icing didn’t help. The recipe called for sour cream and it just didn’t work. Yuck!

Well, that’s my excitement for the week! After the holidays I’ll be sharing the bird series in pastel that I’ve been working on. Here’s a sneak peak:

Red Cardinal Pastel
“Red Cardinal in the Snow”

(The Tamarack Mountain Studio watermark is not on the original paintings.)

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I’ll see you next year! Much Love ~Rhonda

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Bearded Iris Pastel

This week I worked on a new pastel using my Bearded Iris from my flower garden as my subject. The flower garden is a small patch surrounded by a fence to keep the deer out. It contains three Rose bushes, Iris, Lillies, Hollyhocks and Clematis plus hanging baskets of Petunias. Every so often I’ll plant sunflowers but that’s doesn’t go well, because the squirrels and chipmunks dig up the seeds before the sunflowers can take root. These days I start sunflowers indoors and plant them outside as a seedlings so the squirrels can’t change my garden plans.

Here’s a pic of this heavenly spot where the Iris grow:

Bearded Iris in the garden

Next week the weather is going to take a drastic change and go from the delightful 70’s to the 50’s with temps at night dipping in to the low 30’s. There’s even snow forecasted! The garden will be over with next week, so I figured this would be a good time to paint a new pastel in memory of this year’s abundant beauty. I used a photo reference for this piece because the Iris are long gone for this year.

On the easel – “Bearded Iris” pastel

I have a new pastel tray thanks to my husband, who built it for me. It will be fun filling it up with pastels. Right now it looks like I don’t have any pastels to speak of, but every color I need is there. The shelving has wheels so I can move the pastels close to my easel.

Here’s a pic of the finished piece. The watermark is not on the pastel and is done for online purposes. “Bearded Iris” Pastel is 7” x 9.5”. I’m super pleased with how it turned out.

“Bearded Iris” Pastel

If you like this new work, hit the “Like” button below. You don’t have to leave a comment, but clicking on the “Like” button let’s me know I have readers out there who enjoy reading my posts. The more readers, the more posts I will create. Otherwise, if I’m talking to myself, then there won’t be any posts.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a super weekend! Go out and enjoy the fall colors! Much Love ~ Rhonda

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New Interest in Pastels

Summer on the Lake Pastel Painting

Its been a minute since last time I posted! I’m still here ~ just been busy with the garden and my new interest in Pastels. I think I may have found my preferred medium of choice!

There’s nothing like a new box of pastels ~

When I was a kid I used to adore a brand new box of crayons, all pristine and freshly sharpened. Opening a new box of pastels brings back those fond memories. Pastels today, compared to what I used 10 or so years ago, are so much better. The paper has come a long way too and I’m totally in love with this medium. The way the soft pastels lay down creamy vibrant color on the paper is fascinating and delicious, if I may say! Here are some of my new works:


These are a few of my faves. You can see the rest of the new work in the Gallery under the Pastel Paintings tab. I’ve taken the pastels plein air painting and even on a super windy day, it was a pleasure to paint with them. I didn’t have to worry about bugs becoming stuck on the paper, as when I paint with oils. Or like when I paint with oils in plein air, no worries about yellow jackets being attracted to the smell, because pastels have no smell. You can understand why my new interest in pastels has such a great appeal to me. No fuss, but a lot of mess, which is the only drawback. Not to worry, if you work in pastels, you know to have a wet towel on hand to wipe your hands off.

Look at all those vibrant colors! The most wonderful thing about pastels is there’s no mixing to do, like there is with oil paint. I don’t have to think about adding just the right amount of medium or which colors are transparent or opaque, or complimentary and greyed down, etc, etc. I can just be free to paint what I see with ease and not have to wait for paint to dry.

Plein air pastel

The above photo is where I last painted plein air while on a camping trip. We stayed in a campground on the Moyie River in north Idaho and had a great time. My husband fished down below while I painted and my only complaint was the strong wind. But everything stayed together and only my hat threatened to blow away. I’m bummed that the summer is over and we probably won’t have any more outings. In the meantime, I’ll use my reference photos and paint in the comfort of the studio. I hope you had a decent summer and the trials of the times weren’t too harsh. Stay well, be prepared, and thanks for stopping by! Much Love ~ Rhonda