California With a KOOOL Binder & a Roz Bag

We spent the week in California enjoying the sunny rainy weather. Not to be deterred, I got in a good bit of painting due to the cooperation of my lovely, flexible, encouraging car mates. I'll post some sketches/paintings over the coming days.

Our first opportunity at sunshine was a wonderful bit of serendipity as we crossed the King Range between the Avenue of the Giants and Shelter Cove on the Pacific to reach the Lost Coast. Nothing is better than finding a well-placed picnic table! I faced the ocean at sunset, plus there was plenty to occupy my companions between the black sand beach and the Cape Mendocino Lighthouse.

My pastels travelled well from Virginia to California, carried them on with only minor questioning at Dulles and a little more thorough inspection/swabbing at LAX. I purchased a Richeson Roz Bag with four trays for the trip, because I felt my French Companion would be too bulky and not protect my jumble of pastels well enough. Because the organized, foam-lined trays of the Roz Bag are made for plump Unison pastels and many brands I use are smaller, I cut 1/2" foam pieces to layer between each tray; you can see them stored in the bag to prevent fly aways while I painted. The Roz Bag was a bit tougher to zip being so full, but it worked well. The only thing I would criticize about the Roz bag is the empty space under the Richeson logo in the center of each tray. I've lost a couple pastels in them already and have not yet wanted to empty the entire tray to maneuver the hidden ones back out. Once I get them out, the spaces will be stuffed with cotton or foam.

This was the second location where I lucked into a well-placed picnic table. The day was chilly, breezy, and overcast, but Westley was a great spot for a rest area. One thing I realized during the week was that I am much better prepared pastel-wise to paint sunny scenes than gray, foggy, hazy ones. Guess I just need to go buy some more low key pastels.

The top of the Roz Bag conveniently fit essentials such as wipes, pencils, sharpener, stiff oil brush, small trash bags, a lid to hold working pastels, and my new 5.5x8.5" KOOOL Binder. Here I am working on Wallis Belgian Mist, but throughout the week I used a variety pack of ColorFix as well as Wallis in white. Separately, I'd brought an 8.5x11" KOOOL Binder, but didn't have the opportunity to use it and go larger. My painting sessions were less than 60 minutes, which suited the smaller size well.

I definitely didn't anticipate the opportunity to paint each day on our trip, but Thanksgiving is a time for being grateful, rain or not. Sincere thanks to our gracious host.


Quick Portrait

We often have homework in Ginger White Hertgenroeder's nude pastels class, which ends today. This past week, we needed to do a complete figure and make it fit on the page. I know, it sounds easier than it is.

In about 30 minutes last evening, I captured my son as I also ignored his protests. The top half of him was more successful than than the bottom, although I did get him all on the page and fulfill the homework assignment. One thing I need to work on is consistency throughout the whole painting. I've found Ginger's style beautiful, but difficult to master. Hopefully my son will cooperate more in the future so I can practice.

At least he's happy and thinks it looks like him. It's nice to make the subject happy.

This is approximately 15x20 on Biggie paper using Van Gogh hard pastels.

Hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving. I should have some new en plein air sketches and paintings to share soon as I give thanks for there being landscapes that do not complain about being painted.



Saturday, I painted with NOVAL at Great Gatherings. I knew I wanted to paint a pool table and I lucked into a black-felted one with good light. I wanted to treat the balls like a still life.

As is often the case with painting en plein air, lots of people came by to chat. I met another lady who is a lab person; she's wanted to paint for quite some time, but ends up buying completed pieces covering her desired topics instead of using all the supplies she already has.

We have similar personalities and professional inclinations. I was once so perfectionistic about art, too. I can only advise to dive in there, get dirty, take classes, and find support through societies, magazines, dvds, and online forums. That's the thing about artists; I think we want to encourage everybody else to become artists, too. It's much more about practice and training than talent. My son draws a lot. If he starts on the wrong foot, he's quickly on to the next page to start over again. Embrace your false starts; it's how you learn.

Blocked (crop)
5x7 Pastelboard



It's been a Fall for skies.

The last time I'd painted at Aden, it was in oil
. This time, I used pastel and set up directly across the road from the other scene.

As in Manassas Vantage, I chose to feature clouds here, too, with a muted tree line. The sky features dark and rolling clouds, but they were not rain clouds. It had changed from a cold and blustery morning to a peaceful afternoon, shadowy with a brilliant blue backdrop. The leaves were just beginning to change, so there still remained plenty of my precious green in the landscape.

As I painted, two county police cars rolled up with lights flashing, stopping the traffic behind them. The officer in the first car asked if I was drawing and I nodded that I was. He said he was required to ask per their department's policy, then they drove away. It was a wonderfully succinct encounter when compared to the chatty security guard only days before!

So rest assured and feel safe. This painting was completed under the watchful eye of Prince William County Police.

Soft Pastel on white Wallis


NOVAL Happenings

Wednesday night is NOVAL's monthly meeting. Saturday is their regular "Paint Out," which will thankfully be a "Paint In."

A number of us with congregate Saturday at Great Gatherings in Gainesville to paint 11-3. Some artists might work from pictures; some might construct a still life. I haven't decided yet about topic or medium, but I am leaning toward trying some pool balls. We'll also be able to set up our own little art store, so it'd be a great place to watch art being created as well as pick up finished paintings.

I scouted some pictures of the location recently; it's a cool store carrying pool tables to shuffleboards to various card/gaming tables to outdoor furnishings. Great eye candy, indeed.

Great Gatherings Slideshow