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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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Alistair and Cordelia discuss “Camping”

Alistair and Cordelia discuss “Camping”… let’s listen in! What do you think they will say about the painting?

Alistair and Cordelia discuss "Camping"

Alistair:

“Look at this painting Cordelia. It reminds me of my childhood when my family would go camping. I loved camping! We had so much fun running through the forest and having marshmallow fights.”

Cordelia:

“I never went camping Alistair. I don’t like dirt. Plus I need a soft bed to sleep in, and don’t fancy sleeping on the hard ground. Then there’s all those nasty bugs. I hate bugs!”

Alistair:

“Cordelia, you don’t know what you’re missing. Being in nature is great for the soul. Doesn’t this painting inspire you to go have an adventure?”

Cordelia:

“No, Al, it doesn’t! I’m a city girl. Can we go now? I’m bored.”

Alistair:

“Oh Cordelia, you don’t mean that. Aren’t you enjoying looking at art?”

Cordelia”

“I suppose. But I don’t like camping so what’s the point?”

Alistair and Cordelia discuss "Camping"

It seems the studio mascots, Alistair and Cordelia discuss camping, but not my latest pastel painting. They didn’t make any comments on whether they liked the painting or not. What’s up with that? Let’s just ignore them. If you want to find out how Alistair and Cordelia came to be a part of my blog posts you can read about them HERE.

“Camping” pastel was painted on 6″x8″ black Pastelmat paper in plein air whilst on a bike adventure last week. I took the mini pastel box with me and it fit perfectly in my bike bag. I started the painting after lunch but didn’t have time to take it to completion, so I finished it in the studio using my reference photos.

"Camping"
“Camping “

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

My husband and I did a bike ride last week on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, a 73 mile long paved bike path through the beautiful mountains of North Idaho. The trail takes you by scenic pastures, rivers and Lake Coeur d’Alene. There are picnic tables along the way, and we always pack a lunch along with my art supplies. My husband takes a mini fishing pole and while I’m painting he tries to teach a worm to swim. ; )

We stopped at a picnic spot next to the Coeur d’Alene river and this beautiful scene became my subject. Some people were camped by the river and had the best spot. It is so peaceful at this particular place on the river, since its far away from traffic and the city itself. I could have stayed there all day! “Camping” is another landscape painting in my “Beauty of Idaho” series that I started in February.


The weather has been very fickle and the day we went riding it was windy and cold, so that’s why I didn’t finish the painting. We had a head wind going back and it was the first ride of the year so my legs felt like jello. But it was great to be out and since it is early in the season, there were hardly any people on the trail. I can’t wait for better weather and to go ride a different leg of the trail. Next time I’m on location I’ll remember to take photos of my set up.

I’m working on another pastel now from last year when we rode this trail and it’s coming out really nice. I will share it with you soon. Thank you for stopping in and reading my post. I hope you found a little humor with Alistair and Cordelia! Until we next time, take care. Much Love ~ Rhonda

  • The Sun Drenched Meadow
  • The Red Barn pastel
  • Sparkle Pastel Painting
  • "Summertime" Pastel Painting
  • "Camping"
  • “Sunset Magic” Pastel
  • The Golden Hour
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The Golden Hour Pastel

The Golden Hour Pastel is my latest pastel in the Landscape Series called the Beauty of Idaho. The scene is of a gorgeous sunset as viewed from our nearby state park, called Farragut. The park is about 4,000 acres and was once a naval training center during the WW2 era. In fact my late father-in-law trained at the center and his company has a group photo in the archives in the visitor center. I think that is very cool! Farragut State park has many campsites, endless hiking /biking trails, access to the lake and a swimming hole with sandy beach among many other amenities.

I created The Golden Hour pastel on Buttercup PastelMat paper and it is approx. 8″x8″. My palette was limited to the warm tones of purple, orange and yellow using soft pastels from Terry Ludwig, Unison, Senelier and Great American. I have a lot of yellow papers left to use and have been picking subjects that would go well with these papers. I like to order my pastel paper in pads as it’s easier to transport for plein air painting, but the choices one can order are limited to four sheets of each of a color in different combinations. So for instance the pad with yellow comes with dark grey and light grey which I prefer, but then it has two shades of yellow, Buttercup and Maize, to which I’m not a fan of.

I think the yellow paper worked well for this pastel and The Golden Hour came out quite nice. It was fun to paint in the trees in the foreground because it made the sunset come to life.

Alistair and Cordelia, the studio mascots, weighed in on The Golden Hour pastel as usual. I didn’t include their full conversation this time. I’ll let you use your imagination as to what was said.

The Golden Hour Pastel
“The Golden Hour Pastel”
Look at that beautiful sunset Cordelia
“Look at that beautiful sunset Cordelia!”
Alistair and Cordelia enjoy The Golden Hour Pastel
“Where are you shoes Cordelia?”
Alistair critiques The Golden Hour pastel
“Stand here Cordelia, you can get a better shot.”
Really?
“Really?”

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

I’ve started a new pastel that has complicated parts and a cool palette of blues and greens. So far things are going well and I’ll be back to share it with you next week. Thanks so much for stopping by and as always your comments are greatly appreciated, as it gives me valuable feedback. Until then, much love! ~ Rhonda

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Blue chested Hummingbird

There are so many varieties of Hummingbirds that it is just amazing to me! I wish we had more species of hummingbirds in our area, like this Blue chested Hummingbird. We only have a few varieties but I’m happy for the ones we do have. I recently finished this new pastel of a female Blue chested hummingbird gathering nectar from lovely pink flowers:

Blue chested Hummingbird
Female Blue chested Hummingbird

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

“Blue chested Hummingbird” was painted on dark grey PastelMat paper and is aprox. 9″x9″, unframed. I used hard and soft pastels to create the piece.

Since the Blue chested Hummingbird does not live in our area, I had to use a photo reference, which came from a site called Pixabay. A Pixabay member named StockSnap took the lovely photo I used for a reference. There are thousands of quality images available for free use on the Pixabay site! All they ask is that whomever uses an image , that they give credit to the photographer. One can also donate money to a photographer for the use of their photo.

Before I began my pastel, I sketched out a design in my sketchbook and changed the format of the original photo. The original photo has been flipped and cropped to a square. I did a Notan sketch first to map out my lights and darks. Then I drew another sketch and used watercolors to plan the palette.

Design in sketchbook for hummingbird painting

After doing a few thumbnails in my sketchbook, I felt I had enough muscle memory to paint the piece. I had a good time working through all the blues and greens of this beautiful Blue chested Hummingbird, since blue is my favorite color! I can only image what these birds look like in real life! Their habitat is in South America so it’s highly unlikely I will ever see one.

Blue and green soft pastels

A majority of my colors were in the cool tones for the bird, offset by warm tones in the flowers and background.

It took me about two days to paint the piece off and on as I like to bring my work to a certain level of detail and finish. The pastels are helping me to loosen up somewhat in my work, but I still have a ways to go on that!

This is the latest painting of the Birds in Pastels series, and next I will be either painting a Robin or some chickens.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

It would be a great help to me if you would hit the like button so I know I reached my audience.

Much Love ~ Rhonda

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