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Autumn’s Flourish – Pastel Painting

Trees, clouds, reflections, deep water, autumn colors, deep shadows. This painting has a little bit of everything! A complicated scene but one accomplished with careful planning and a slow determined pace. I started this piece by underpainting my paper with an oil-stain in Indian Yellow. I wanted the painting to glow! This effect could also be achieved by utilizing my favorite hard pastel/rubbing alcohol underpainting technique. You can see me do that here. (Test your paper before using any wet media to make sure it stands up to the harsher treatment.)  This painting was painted on fabulous Uart in the 500 grit. I step away from my pieces over and over, testing my shapes and values by blurring my eyesight slightly. I also like to take a quick phone picture of the paintings to study that little on-screen image. That small thumbnail will show you a lot!  Inconsistencies really jump out when you've reduced the image. I used my dark gray [...]

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Kids in the Studio – Pastel Valentine Heart

  Happy Valentine's Day!  My little girl and I had so much fun bringing you this sweet and simple project. She is such a creative and loving little girl and inspires me daily with her freedom to just play in the studio! We wanted to make something together that would be easy for anyone to do and a nice keepsake for you. There really is no wrong way to make this heart.  It's so easy and would be a great project to complete with your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, or any  young soul in your life.  I had so much fun I made some for me, too! We chose the watercolor paper because of the texture and also because of the clarity of the paper.  This makes the colors pop a bit more (especially since we left the negative space around the heart).  I directed Gillian to choose pastels she liked and I love what she made.  Children have no [...]

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The importance of play…

This weekend I had the privilege of showing these four pieces at The Art Center Small Works Invitational in Dumas, Texas.  The exhibit is through March 17, 2017 and if you're in the area, stop by! The artist's reception was yesterday and it was fun seeing my friends and their work and snacking on refreshments. There were many interesting pieces and styles represented from artists in the area.  Click here to email the gallery about my paintings! Each one of these was created as an experiment. Scribbles here, different underpainting there. Mark making variations, and a "if I did this what would happen" attitude. They are small (each about 5x5" except the snow scene which is 8x8") and are some of my favorite pieces. They were spontaneous experiments in technique and style. There was no "big paper pressure" and since I learned how to paint by painting small daily works, these felt very natural. "The big art world" out [...]

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A Temporary Glow

I'm so glad you're here. I painted a sunset for you! Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors which it passes to a row of ancient trees. You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth. leaving you, not really belonging to either, not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent, not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing that turns to a star each night and climbs- leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads) your own life, timid and standing high and growing, so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out, one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star. ~ Sunset, Rainer Maria Rilke Sunsets are one of my very favorite things in the world. Elusive, mysterious, sudden, fleeting.  A true gift and as an artist, one of the hardest things to capture.  I've [...]

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Monday Motivation

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Monday has a bad rap in my opinion.  I always like Monday for the focus it helps me achieve.  The weekend's activities are over and I have the opportunity to plan and think about what I want to do and accomplish for the week. Sunday is usually spent with the family and I also love to do a "once-over" in the studio making sure my pastel painting supplies are clean, my easel is ready.  I wipe off my studio table (we all know pastels are dusty!),  put away papers, and check my things to see if I need to reorder anything.  Since shipping takes a week or longer, I like to have this ready and prepped. Then (if I'm behaving well and don't decide to just run away to the Caribbean) this is pretty much my daily morning schedule. Drink coffee Drop [...]

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I took this photo years ago, after a rainy day, in my front yard.  I stooped down to see what that white stuff in my grass was and behold! an entire kingdom appeared.  A little ruffled delicate kingdom. This pic always reminds me to look with new eyes in places I'm not used to looking.  Maybe that means crawling on my hands and knees through the wet grass and focusing my gaze smaller and smaller. Sometimes we walk right past the growth and don't realize.  Sometimes we are even sick of the rain because it means mud.  Ugh!  But isn't all growth like this?  You don't see it and then all of a sudden, it's everywhere!  It might be small and delicate, maybe for you it's big and powerful, and for some it's just a rainy day that brings lots of mess. Growth is a creeping, steady thing but only accomplished with action and effort.  I choose to focus on [...]

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“Blue, Near and Far” – Pastel Painting by Bethany Fields

  I've been doing a lot of soul-searching lately about exactly what it is that drives me and motivates me to create. Recently, I discovered this sonnet and it so resonated within me. Not in a silver casket cool with pearls Or rich with red corundum or with blue, Locked, and the key withheld, as other girls Have given their loves, I give my love to you; Not in a lovers'-knot, not in a ring Worked in such fashion, and the legend plain— Semper fidelis, where a secret spring Kennels a drop of mischief for the brain: Love in the open hand, no thing but that, Ungemmed, unhidden, wishing not to hurt, As one should bring you cowslips in a hat Swung from the hand, or apples in her skirt, I bring you, calling out as children do: "Look what I have!—And these are all for you." ~Edna St. Vincent Millay To me, this states exactly what I want to [...]

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The Head and the Heart (or how to Handle Self Criticism)

Working everyday has its advantages and its limits.  I began my dedicated effort to paint everyday (or almost) in July of 2014 and have painted hundreds of paintings since. Most of those are in a tightly closed drawer and show the frustrations and yearnings of a very inexperienced artist.  That drawer doesn't get opened much because I cringe at my first fumbling efforts in pastel painting.  I can pick apart all of them and the harsh words that come to my mind are cruel. I think about that quite a lot actually.  I am the first person to say to others, "you can do it!"  "all it takes is practice!" "those mistakes are for your benefit!" but then when I talk to myself it comes out as "you are terrible!"  "you'll never paint another successful piece again" "it's an accident" "you'll never succeed" "you should quit" etc. etc. Why are we so quick to help others and quicker to condemn ourselves? [...]

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