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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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“Sunset Magic” Pastel

Sunset Magic” Pastel is a new painting I recently finished and is part of the series I’m working on called the Beauty of Idaho. I introduced the series in a previous post, and have been enjoying working on landscapes. Sunsets are one of my favorite landscape genres to paint because of the vibrant colors. I used a cool palette for the majority of the piece allowing the clouds to be the focal point in warmer tones. It was the clouds plus the pink horizon that brought my attention to the scene.

“Sunset Magic” pastel on the easel

This is a shot of the pastel on the easel to show the size, which is roughly 7.5″ x 7.5″. “Sunset Magic” Pastel was painted on wine PastelMat paper and depicts Lake Pend Orielle in Northern Idaho just after the sun has set. I was attracted to the wispy clouds that were highlighted by the sun while everything else was in near darkness. The clouds at the horizon were a vibrant pink and the pink colors were reflected in the water. It truly was a magical sunset that day!

In the above photo, are the studio mascots. They’ve been a part of my studio for years and I thought it was time to introduce them! Allow me to introduce Alistair and Cordelia:

Alistair and Cordelia Blue

Alistair and Cordelia are snobby art critics and here they are again discussing my painting! Cordelia finds it unbelievable that a sunset could be these colors. Alistair agrees. He’s pointing to the painting and says, “I agree with you Cordelia, how ridiculous that the water is such a bright pink! Its not like that in real life!”

Snobs! I never listen to them.

“Sunset Magic” Pastel

I am happy with the simplicity and vibrancy of this pastel painting. I think “Sunset Magic”Pastel truly captured the beauty of that evening as I saw it from our boat as we were coming in to the harbor. I used my artistic license and pushed the colors to the brilliant side because after all, this is art not a photo. ; ) I like this pastel for the playfulness in the color palette while at the same time it evokes a sense of peacefulness. One can almost feel the warm summer night and the stillness of the air as the waves gently roll upon the lake.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in a comment. Do you agree with Alistair and Cordelia? Too pink?

Thanks for stopping by! Until next post ~ Much Love! ~ Rhonda

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

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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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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