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Showing posts from November, 2011

Canson Canva-Paper: Great for Mixed Media!

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I hit a wall a few weeks ago, after taking a week off painting. I returned to pastels and plein air, only to feel that I needed to breathe new life into my work. The best way I know to do that: experiment!

I've used Canson Canva-paper a few times before. I wanted to see how it held up under some thick paint, and played around with my palette knife and some acrylic paint (applied impasto style). After adding a layer of chalk pastel to each, I ended up with the following two pieces:

"Shimmer" 12 x 16 Acrylic and Pastel on Canson Canva-paper
Click here to purchase original

"Dschungel" 12 x 16 Acrylic and Chalk Pastel on Canson Canva-paper
Email nicolehilsabeck@yahoo.com if interested in purchasing

("Dschungel" is German for "Jungle." It's always been one of my favorite German words.)

Both of these pieces were based loosely on photographs taken around Southern California (one at a butterfly exhibit, another at a theme park). I honestly didn&#…

A New Medium (Watercolor and Pencil)

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"Chatte et Pomegranates" 5 x 6 Watercolor and Colored Pencil on Card


We've been getting some dry, cold weather in between brief storms. Between having dry hands and finding it a little cold outside to work with pastels, I thought I might try a little different direction and play with watercolor.

The subject for the painting above is a cat who has been in the family for many years. A few years back, we had quite a pomegranate crop, and I brought a basket of them over to my sister's. The cat sniffed them curiously, then sat down by them in disgust. She looked so funny sitting guard by the basket, I had to take a picture. I thought it might make a nice card for this time of year, and set out to paint it on one of my Strathmore watercolor cards.

After getting the basic watercolor painting done, I tried out my spectracolor pencils as a finishing touch. I've never really used these seriously before, but Ive often wondered how they would look over paint. They blended n…

Stormy Inspiration

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"Storm Headed East" 9 x 12 Chalk Pastel on Paper
Email nicolehilsabeck@yahoo.com if interested in purchasing

This one wasn't technically plein air, although I did paint it in action! It was a stormy day, so I worked in front of the kitchen window as the clouds barrelled eastward. This painting was unique in that I was able to begin and finish it in one session while my daughter was awake-- never been able to pull that off before!

Whenever we get a good rain in Fallbrook, the colors of the surrounding hills become richer: purples get darker, greens are more vivid, and bits of sanguine red peek through the bushes and trees. Set against the backdrop of a gunmetal sky, the colors become even more striking. I always stop to appreciate the view of a rainy day (once the fog clears), and this was the first time I tried to capture its beauty on paper.

The day before, it was quite windy, so I did my plein air work close to the ground:


"Plein Air Shrooms" 9 x 12 Chalk Pa…

Cactus: Ridiculous or...ridiculous?

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"Plein Air Cactus" 9 x 12 Chalk Pastel on Paper

Click here to view print choices:
http://www.redbubble.com/people/nikihilsabeck/art/7997949-plein-air-cactus-pastel


The cactus plant: a common sight in Southern California, it means different things to different people. For some, it's ugly (I have a friend who hates succulents in general). For baby squirrels, it's a safe home. For random strangers at the end of my street, it's apparently dinner. You think I'm joking? There's often quite a crowd out there with their plastic bags and knives, helping themselves.


For me, it's something that's always available to paint, but I only do so after careful deliberation-- painting cactus is like working on a puzzle. In this case, it was the play of light and shadow on the plant that inspired me to work. I really had to get into right brain mode, though, because my left brain was screaming "It looks like a hand! A hand with fat wide fingers!" This is th…