tempguestblog 2017-12-14T15:50:45+00:00

I am so excited to introduce my friend and fellow pastel artist, Jude Tolar! (pronounced Judy).  Jude has become a sweet friend of mine after several years of meeting at various exhibits around the country, talking over our shared passion of pastel painting, some glasses of wine, and a spectacular sunset evening spent in Albuquerque last year at IAPS on the rooftop of the Hotel Chaco.

Jude is an artist hailing from “near” me – in Oklahoma!  Only those who live in the plains states think “oh it’s not that far, only one state over!” In my area of Texas, where everything is far away (except a Whataburger or DQ), Oklahoma is practically down the street.


I asked Jude to write a December blog for me and was so pleased and grateful when she said “yes!”  Jude is a master at her “floral portraits” as she calls them.  They are as vibrant as she is spunky and creative.    I hope you enjoy!!

Please visit Jude at her website at judetolar.com and don’t forget to “like” her Facebook page as well!  She has several upcoming workshops in 2018 that are listed on her page as well as shows and exhibits all the time.

Now without further ado, let’s hear from Jude!

Seasonal Color

by Jude Tolar, PSA

Jude Tolar Pastel Artist
I’m drawn to seasonal color, no pun intended. The colors I wear and the subjects I paint with my pastels are usually seasonal, too. I paint mainly from life, and that may influence my color choices.
Weather permitting, I am en plein air, painting outdoors what catches my eye. I follow an annual journey of painting seasonal flowers, grasses, trees and more. When I can’t paint outdoors, I prefer to paint my indoor subjects from life. They may be still lifes, vignettes or close-up floral portraits. They are usually seasonal, too. For example, winter fruits call to me in winter but do not appeal to me in summer, fall, or spring.

Jude Tolar Pastel PainterI don’t know if other artists are caught up with seasonal color or if it’s just my particular quirk (one of many). Since I’m self-employed (with a staff of one), I fortunately can indulge my color whims for both my wardrobe and my paintings.
In spring I like to wear pale greens, pinks, lilacs. I fill the house and my easel with paintings of pale yellow daffodils and pink azaleas. I would not choose to wear red or burgundy in spring. Those colors simply don’t look or feel right. And, those colors are not prevalent in the spring yard.
Summer draws me to bright colors and light colors. Rare is the summer day in Oklahoma that’s cool enough to wear black. My summer models are bright and light, too. Daylilies in oranges and reds, coneflowers in magentas, crisp white daisies and neon green grasses.

Jude Tolar ArtistFall brings my interest and my wardrobe to russets, red violets, navy and grays. I say “au revoir” to the pale pinks and lavenders in my closet. Such colors are too chilly and meek for the cooler months. I seek out vibrant red fall leaves and yellow-orange grasses swishing in our field. In the gardens I dash around to paint the last of the leftover blooms and the first of the freshly-planted pansies.
Winter lures me to intense colors to wear and to paint. Red is thermally-warmer than other colors, and it warms me to my toes. ‘Tis the season also for greens, golds, silvers, purples. At the same time sparkles, spangles, twinkles and joy are the feelings I try to express.

December is a particularly fun month for seasonal color and self-indulgence. I pull out red sweaters and look forward to the arrival of poinsettias. Their reds visually warm our house and excite my eye. I try to paint at least one poinsettia portrait each year.

Here’s a parade of poinsettia paintings from previous Decembers.

Pastel Painter Jude Tolar

Poinsettia II   11×14” painted from life

Mostly Terry Ludwig pastels on aubergine ColourFix paper, private collection

This was a joy to paint. I love to paint floral close-ups. I think of them as floral portraits, and usually give them a simple background. This helps keep the focus on the flowers themselves. I used a two-point crop to play up the poinsettia’s postural sprawl.
I included this in my first submission to the Pastel Society of America’s annual juried show in 2011. To my astonishment, it was accepted! Thus began my involvement in the Pastel Society of America, a wonderful organization.The next spring I applied for PSA membership, just for the experience of applying. I was elected a Signature Member. This was most unexpected but much appreciated. The validation made me a better painter.

Time out!!

MATERIALS also made me a better painter. Good materials provided new and better ways of paint. Sanded papers and soft pastels literally changed my world.
Earlier I had used Canson Mi-Tientes paper for my pastel work. Beautiful paper colors but with an unsanded surface. This paper holds only a few layers of pastel. Great for drawing but limited for painting the way I like to paint.
Then I learned about sanded papers, with a gritty surface that holds many layers of pastel. This surface, along with soft pastels, brought wonderful painterly opportunities to me.
My favorite sanded paper is Art Spectrum’s ColourFix, in aubergine or burnt umber. These dark colors help me “see” my values and colors. The dark surfaces also make values and colors sing.
I sometimes use UArt sanded paper, 400 or 500 grit. This paper is a light cream color. That light value, though, feels to me like someone is shining a light in my eyes. I can’t see my values and colors very well on it. So when I use UArt, I first underpaint to cover up that light value.
UArt has recently introduced a dark sanded paper. The color is a warm charcoal gray, very dark but not black. I’ve been painting with it some, and I like it very much.
Soft pastels also helped move me from pastel drawings to pastel paintings. Soft pastels are velvety, opaque and quite forgiving. They are basically pure pigment with a little bit of binder to hold them together. I am particularly fond of Terry Ludwig soft pastels. His reds give these poinsettia paintings their scarlet squeals of joy. Terry Ludwigs also provide a broad range of colors and values. His darks are dark in value while rich in color. I also use some Senneliers, Schminckes, Giraults, Henri Roches, and others. (**Note from Bethany – I have additional links to these pastel manufacturers over on my Resources page!)

And back to the poinsettia parade….

Jude Tolar artist

Fire and Ice
  (above) 12×9” painted from life.

Mostly Terry Ludwig pastels on aubergine ColourFix paper, available at Stillwater (OK) Center for the Arts

Again, a floral portrait. I loved the perky posture of the hot red leaves and the contrasting cool green leaves. This one juried into the Pastel Society of New Mexico’s national show.

Sometimes a painting needs cropping. This poinsettia painting (below) did. It had some pretty parts but was not cohesive.

Jude Tolar pastels

So, here was Crop #1.  Better still but still not strong enough, design wise.

Jude Tolar Oklahoma Artist

Here was Crop #2.

Poinsettia Promenade  12×8”
Painted from life.   Mostly Terry Ludwig pastels on burnt umber ColourFix paper, SOLD.
That was much, much better! It played up the focal point, which is the cast shadows in lower right. (And it made good use of an ornate frame.)

Jude Tolar Poinsettia Paintings in PastelWarm Wishes (left)  9×12” painted from life.
Mostly Terry Ludwig pastels on aubergine ColourFix paper, SOLD.
I used cooler darks for the shadow sides of the red leaves. Using dark purples — which are cool —  helped make the lights be even warmer. I also learned to use some cool lights to help play up the warm lights. See the upper right two red leaves and the leftmost red leaf for these pinks.
Turquoise turned out to be a great accent color in the background. (You will now see turquoise in quite a few of my floral portraits.)

Jude Tolar pastel painterPoinsettia Beauty (right) 9×12″ painted from life.
Terry Ludwig pastels on aubergine ColourFix paper, available at Stillwater (OK) Center for the Arts
Putting a dark red leaf in front of a lit red leaf helped the lit leaf glow. Again, I love a two- or three-point crop for floral portraits. I tried to be a bit looser, more impressionistic in this painting.

Blick Art Materials

Jude Tolar Pastel PainterPoinsettia Warmth 9×12″ painted from life.
Terry Ludwig pastels on aubergine ColourFix paper, AVAILABLE
Last year’s poinsettia portrait (2016). Even looser and more impressionistic. Tried to be gestural with the leaves, to bring your eye to the center of the poinsettia and to the leaf in the lower right of center. Again used purples and turquoises, and added some olive greens.
Looking at these red poinsettia pastel paintings while writing about seasonal color has warmed my soul. I hope reading this post brings warmth to you as well. I wish for you a cozy December, filled with the people, the colors, and the things you love.  —Jude Tolar PSA

Thank you so much Jude!  Your paintings are full of life and color, light and shadow.  I especially love Jude’s use of space in her work and her almost “macro” focus.   Her palette and colors are vibrant!  Which one is your favorite?

xoxo and Merry, Merry everyone!


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