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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 painted this scene several times and will most likely paint it again.  I’m always tweaking and trying new things.  Trying to capture something that is over too quickly.


Bethany Fields Pastel Artist - Sunset Landscape

A Temporary Glow

9×9″ pastel and ink on paper by Bethany Fields 2017

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This particular painting developed over time from a couple of photos I’ve taken in the past year.  The sunset photo was taken while I was sitting in the grocery store parking lot on a particularly lovely night.  The sky went from bright turquoise blue, to crimson, pink, and orange in minutes.  I sat and watched it evolve and eventually disappear.  It was beautiful.  I knew I wanted to paint it but also didn’t love the very dark foreground/earth/horizon.  Living in my area of Texas doesn’t afford many views of trees or hills and I’m always seeking ways to add them.  This is where one of my favorite artist tricks comes into play.  I took another photo of a foreground I liked and combined them!  I do this every now and then when I would like more interest in one of the elements.  I also used artistic license to play with the field’s rows and with the lighting.  As artists, this is our world and our vision.  It’s so important to play.

Bethany Fields Pastel ArtistThe land/tree mass photo was taken on a trip early last year in the beautiful state of Massachusetts.  The day was lovely.  Warm and bright with gorgeous blues and clouds.  I reduced the scene for my painting and worked on the value of the tree line to keep it in relation to the sunset photo.

You’ll also notice I eliminated the vapor trails in the sunset photo.  They form an almost “X” which I didn’t want in my painting.  I also edited out the very bright yellow. Sunsets can be intoxicating to paint but sometimes all the colors and vivid saturation can be confusing, cliche,  and just too much….

(now for a secret only you blog readers will find out)….In the painting I’ve posted above, I tweaked it after I posted the timelapse.  (gasp!)  Can you tell how?  After filming and editing something bothered me about the piece so  I changed something very small.  Let me know what you think it is and why you think I did it! ….10 brownie points for the correct answer.


Do you ever combine photo references?

How and why?



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By | 2017-03-23T16:34:46+00:00 February 9th, 2017|


  1. Doug Decker February 10, 2017 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    I’m a 68 year old retired commercial photographer. I started fine art photography in 1967 because illustration was being replaced by photography in magazines and ads. I went to art school here in Louisville from 1967 to 1970 and have been painting and drawing on and off since 1963. I worked as a commercial photographer from 1974 until retirement in 2014. I worked in theater from 1971 to 1974 as a set designer/builder/ stage manager. I went back to U.of L. in 1991 while working full time as a photographer in order to get an MAT degree to teach art to k-12 but had to quit before getting my degree. And I’ve played bass guitar in bands since 1964. All this is to show that I am immersed in the arts.
    I stumbled across your videos and website about three months ago and enjoy your pastel work. I love pastel because of the colors available to use and the fact that pastel can seem, as yours do, somewhat realistic or impressionistic at a distance and beautifully abstract close up. The layers of color and texture that pastels can create, as in your work, can be so beautiful. I’ve worked in pastel on and off since 1990, mostly doing figurative things but have been very interested in landscapes in a similar style as your work, but not as good as you. I just wanted to communicate with you and, like many others, tell you that I enjoy seeing your work, watching you work in videos and reading your commentary.
    Doug Decker
    Louisville, KY.

    • Bethany February 10, 2017 at 5:02 pm - Reply

      Doug, thank you for the comment and for telling me your story! Your diverse background is so similar to mine. The arts have always pulled me and I love expressing myself in many ways. (Just like you, it sounds like!).

      I am so thankful my little videos are enjoyable and I appreciate you telling me! So glad you found them over on Youtube. I hope to add many more this year! Having fun meeting lots of artists through it and hearing from everyone.

      Would love to see some of your work! 🙂


  2. Jen Grupp February 14, 2017 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    Hi Bethany! Love this painting. I tried it tonight without the acrylic ink and sky alcohol wash. It was so fun! Quick question…when you put on the acrylic ink, are you using sand paper? Just trying to figure out what you are using! Thanks for the inspiration. I am just starting out in pastels.

    • Bethany February 15, 2017 at 11:48 am - Reply

      Hi Jen! So glad you enjoyed using the ink and wash! I love using different underpaintings to help the paintings come along! 🙂 I use different things for the ink, sometimes brushes but find I want my hands closer (I am a pastelist, after all!) so have been using the foam to apply it and sometimes a piece of canvas cloth. It’s messy but I like the gnarly effect. Let me know if you try it! Would love to see your results. Thank you for letting me know!

  3. Jen Grupp February 15, 2017 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Thanks! When I try it, I will send you a pic! Keep posting! Love your blog!

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