Lily Pads at Green Spring Gardens

I was in a plein air class with Sarah Linda Poly through The Art League in Alexandria. Everyone else was working in oils; I'd barely begun my journey in oils and was the lone pastelist. The exposure, however, was perfect for my training overall.

Because massive, close in clumps of foliage blind me, I wandered around the pond area and wound up looking down instead for my source. The reflection among the lily pads spoke to me. It was completed on site.

Pastel on Wallis Belgian Mist, 14x11


Belle Haven Point

Today's class was on atmospherics, one of Sara Linda Poly's specialties. Early mornings were foggy and, as often happened, it would get hot and humid afterwards.

This vantage is from the far end of Belle Haven, looking down the Potomac toward the Chesapeake.

Pastel on Wallis, 4x11

For starters, this image is available here.


Belle Haven Secrets

Again as the only pastelist in a Sara Linda Poly class, I imparted my own style on the rest of the class. Pastels have been around for a long time, but there are so many misconceptions. It is fun to serve as an educator and advocate for this beautiful medium.

This is the right side of Belle Haven Marina, that which backs to the nature preserve. I found the solitude very tranquil as I tried to make the tangled mess of vegetation in the Potomac charming! (Now you know the secret.)

Pastel on Rust Colorfix, 8x11


Poolesville Stand

A journey over to Poolesville, Maryland is always worth the drive. The area provided me a love of painting rolling yellow fields and stands of trees. Over a couple summers, I coordinated fellow painters for plein air outings, painters to include Paul Reuther and Brenda Sylvia.

Pastel on Wallis, 8x10



Fountainhead Regional Park offers great vistas in an urban area. Here, though, I chose something more close to paint. I was fascinated by how these canoes were bunched up together tumbling around. They lent themselves to a more abstract treatment.

Soft pastel on Wallis


Siamese Duo

These beloved kitties belong to someone who did me a big favor, so I requested doing a favor in return. I'd done other pet portraits as a result of Nancy Freeman's workshop, so I was excited to get working on these two. I documented the journey.

I am a cat fancier. And cats are Bonnie fanciers. It's a great trick when cat owners think their pet will be reluctant to have my company and then the feline mauls me with attention. I just love that...except when I'm trying to take pictures of the subjects!

Although I did get one or two shots of them together, when I got home I realized I had separate pictures of the cats that I could piece together more effectively. The cats look very different. One had a long, refined nose and had vivid violet blue slanted eyes, which were very crossed. The other had a darker, more blunted face with round gray eyes and less crossing.

I played with the height of the rear one and the larger dimensions of the front one to get the proper arrangement.
This is on Belgian Mist Wallis paper and is 12x18. Although there are exceptions, pastels begin dark.
The front cat had a coat that was a little curly and I was grateful for the added interest.

The deep red background was of the owner's choice based on a sample I'd shown her; I scumbled it a bit, so it would blend with her den's paint.

Siamese Duo
Soft Pastel on Wallis Belgian Mist


Before the Dozer

Where I live is ripe with construction. Little houses with land become mega developments with McMansions.

That's what happened here. A little rancher with property on Marion Place was removed, but the vegetation remained. These bushes along what had been the driveway seemed to stand as sentinels to what was, as memories of the busy family that once lived there.

On a walk with a friend, I noticed these remaining bushes from the road, the opposite direction. I'd seen them before, but this time they had a pull. A few days later, I went there to paint them in their steadfast charm.

And I was devastated when only days later they were ripped out in a heap. At least they have this tribute.

Pastel on Wallis, 8x11


Occoquan Wildlife Refuge

I painted this the day my grandmother died several states away from me. She went peacefully in her sleep.

It was my first and last time going to this location. Parking was awkward and I came home with four ticks, a common nuisance of plein air work.

Afterwards, I was never happy with the painting. It wasn't a good day all around.

My other grandmother always told me, "Never knit when you're angry, because you'll have to pull it all out." I can generalize that, I believe, into saying to not paint when your heart isn't in it.

Occoquan Refuge
Pastel on Pastelboard