Hot Air (painting hot air balloons with pastel)

Although I enjoy the wine and the food, the real reason I want to go to the Temecula Wine and Balloon Festival every year is to see the balloon glow-- and take pictures of something you don't get to see too often: hot air balloons lit up against the backdrop of night. I've been painting some of these hot air balloons off and on for a few months. I've painted them with acrylic, mixed media, and plain old chalk pastel. It's difficult to strike the balance between the bold lights against the dark night with the soft shapes of the balloons.
I found that if using a medium like acrylic, I needed to keep it extremely loose and keep the shapes simple. I need to keep the focus on basic shape, light, and dark, and leave out the details. This makes for some abstract-looking balloons (see below, left).


"Night Balloons in Temecula" (left) "The Pechanga Balloon" (Right)

On the other hand, having recently grown more comfortable mixing the oil and chalk pastels, I was able to find the right balance between hard and soft edges (and light and dark), and show a little more realism in the painting (see above, right). I think it has to do with the roundness of the balloons; although they have a lot of lines because of the stitching, it's better to suggest the lines rather than try to draw them all in. They also have a lot of geometric design, so you have to keep the patterns and colors in mind while maintaining that balance between lights and darks.
So, with an oil pastel underpainting (which honestly looked ridiculous at first) and a lot of chalk rubbed in on top, I have finally reached an enjoyable method for painting hot air balloons. For the record, I did not use any blue in "The Pechanga Balloon." I'm sticking with the program for now (see previous posts for my relationship with the color blue!)
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Left:
"Night Balloons in Temecula"


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