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Showing posts from June, 2011

Plein Air Experiment, Part 1

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Sunday, June 26th, I'll be painting in the Plein Air contest at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar, California. I decided I'd better get a little practice in, and have done a plein air painting a day for the last few days (hoping to get a full week in by Sunday).

I haven't done much plein air-- usually it's hard to find time where I can go outside interrupted for an hour or so. I've been lucky these last few days, beginning with Sunday. It was still a little foggy, but I went out anyway, dragging my not so stable box of pastels, a board with paper taped to it, and a chair.

Walking around for a few minutes, my basic impression was that we certainly need to spend some time cleaning up outside. Luckily, we have nice views, and I settled down in a chair to paint the view west of my house, which is a grove next door. It got wiped out in the 2007 fire (like ours), and has since been replanted. There's a small building there, so I chose that as the focal point and…

A Relaxing Beachscape

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"Horseshoe Bay" 8.5 x 12 in chalk pastel on paper
Click here to buy print (cards start under $3):
http://www.redbubble.com/people/nikihilsabeck/art/7339687-horseshoe-bay-pastel

This painting is a special one... 11 years ago this time of year, my husband and I went to Bermuda. We visited two beautiful beaches, and one of them was Horseshoe Bay.

Horseshoe Bay is famous for its pink sand, but I also remember the calm turquoise waters, rocky hills, and, unfortunately, the $25 cab ride!!! We did have a fun conversation with the cab driver though, who told us that the teenagers on the island have to be careful when they start dating and make sure they aren't related to each other, because the island is so small.

Bermuda is not a cheap date, but it's a beautiful, unique place. It's fun to see the architecture of the old buildings, and a little harrowing to watch out for tourists zipping around on their vespas. It has a European feel (visiting a grocery market actually m…

Worn Down by Time

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"Visage" 5 x 7in Chalk Pastel on Paper
Click here to buy print:
http://www.redbubble.com/people/nikihilsabeck/art/7323384-visage-pastel

This piece was based on a reference photo of a stone carving, which appeared flat on the back, with the face rising out of the stone front.


It started as a 15 minute daily painting, and ended up taking a bit longer (as most do) because I wanted to add depth to the piece. It was finished fairly quickly though, because I had been contemplating the photo off and on for the last week, visualizing colors and composition. I find that when I keep an idea on the burner a little longer, and revisit if frequently, it gives me a much stronger guide when the time comes to actually create the piece.


I think I like painting ancient things because they have been stripped down by time, and leave much to the imagination. In our high definition world, there is little room to imagine how things might look if their colors or shapes were altered. This piece probably…

The Art of Tenacity

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"Flowers" 9 x 12in Chalk Pastel on Paper
Click here to purchase original

We've all heard that saying:
"Art is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration"

When something comes naturally to you, it's hard to put the work into it. I've noticed this in my years of teaching; the students who were "brightest" often got the most frustrated when something didn't come easily to them. I've found that the painting itself is not necessarily the hardest part. It's making time to paint, and then, once it's completed, sharing that piece with others.

The piece above was an example of all of the outside work I have to put into a painting. Exhausted, I found myself strangely awake at 4 a.m. The house was quiet, so I thought, "Why not?" and got up to tape some pastel paper to a board. I didn't feel like painting much of anything, but I sifted through some recent photos and decided on a bright bunch of flowers from the spa at Glen Ivy Hot …

Clearing the Palette

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"Vessels" 5 x 9.5in Chalk Pastel on Paper
Click here to buy print:
http://www.redbubble.com/people/nikihilsabeck/art/7303654-vessels-pastel



Sometimes you have to start fresh...



I printed out a bunch of new pictures, but I wasn't in the mood to paint them. It had been several days since I started a new painting, and I was trying to figure out why. Looking around my work space, I decided that my problem came from all of the already completed work sitting around me.



I have a little ritual I complete at the end of every month: I take all of the work I completed in that time period, and carefully pack it away. This is my way of saying goodbye to it, knowing it will be safe and waiting for the time when I need it again, either for a show or a sale. Sifting through my work and organizing it this way gives me time to reflect on it, but also allows me to move on to new things. I hadn't gotten much done in April, and by the end of May, all of that work had piled up and was blockin…