Lost Coast

There were four workshops at the MAPAPA Annual Meeting: Stewart White (watercolors), Michael Skalka (Painting supports, NGA associate), and Marga Fripp (Art of Doing Business.)

Of course, pastels caught my attention, although all workshops were excellent. Presenter was Stan Sperlak, a Jersey shore artist in a big sky mentality. Over the course of 90 minutes, he did two large paintings and one small.

The next painting is one on which he used huge pastels and blended with the side of his hand. For the upper 2/3 of the sky, he used sweeping motions; for the rest of the sky near the horizon, he used horizontal strokes. For the land, he laid in darks, then brushed on isopropyl alcohol to blend with a brush. After that dried, he began with details for the sea and land. I'd never seen a daytime moon in a painting, but I like it. This was done on mounted Wallis, if I remember correctly.

Just look at his happy jumble of pastels!

The following method really caught my imagination. Stan worked on a large Pastelbord. The ground (i.e., a purple strip) was laid in and fixed ahead of time. Primarily using the large pastels, the sky was laid in heavy, layering in values and hues. He stayed away from light colored pastels b/c the chalk in them floats too much and can overwhelm the painting.

Stan then put it on the board on the floor and proceeded to spray it down heavily with water. He carefully picked it up and swirled it gently, then set it aside. You could see the pastel forms floating on the surface. When it had dried, he gave the ground more definition with some streaks of deep green, but he left the sky alone. For any errant pastel settling in the wrong place, he used a push pin to tickle them out. I think a straight pin would be pretty easy to add to my kit. A cheap art supply!

Here's my version of Stan's method.

I did not put in a ground and fix it. Instead, I worked in all the colors like he'd demonstrated on the above paintings, then sprayed with water and let it sit. It was lovely seeing the ghost images rise up, float, and land. I made adjustments and sprayed it down twice more, then layered in a few final details on the lighthouse.

I added a few steps to his method, but it suited my image, which had a bit more detail. I was working from several pictures I'd taken at Hidden Cove, CA.

It would be wonderful to work in this style en plein air. I could lay in the color, spray it, and put it aside while I develop another piece. It would be a lot of fun to work back and forth on several paintings at once. The serendipity of this method makes it a real treat.

Lost Coast
Pastel on Pastelboard