Inspired by Light (Pastels on Canvas)

"Morning Glow" 12 x 16 Chalk Pastel on Flat Canvas
Email if interested in purchasing
Been trying to get back into the daily painting routine, which for me either means a small painting a day, or a larger painting spread over two days.  It's a bit of a challenge with the growing belly and a very inquisitive firstborn, but I was lucky enough to get a little extra inspiration from an odd source: Sunday's eclipse.

We have beautiful views of the canyon and hills behind us, and I watched the light change on this hill as the sunlight waned throughout the course of the eclipse.  I noted how the normally stunning lights and shadows on this hill were blunted by the general darkening (as opposed to the usual sunrise or sunset glow).  I thought I would be a little more appreciative of those lights and darks and try a painting of the trees and hills the next morning.

I completed this painting in several steps, having struggled a little recently with getting the right balance of color with the chalk pastels on canvas, as the canvas tends to swallow the pastel.

I managed to take some quick photos of each step, so I could share the basic process:

Step one: tone flat canvas with acrylic
paint, laying in basic foreground
background tones.  Use a paper towel
(or tissue paper) to blot and create
varied textures in the paint.
Step two: block in composition
with chalk pastel, emphasizing lights,
darks, and color scheme
Step three: Finish with highlights and details, and spray with
fixative for to add staying power before adding last details.
Follow all directions on fixative, it's nasty stuff!
Finished piece is shown at the top of the page.  I don't normally like using fixative because it darkens colors, however I am finding it is something of a must if you're painting with dry pastel on canvas, unless you've blended your pastels with water (works as a natural adherent, but dulls the colors a bit too).  The acrylic worked great for undertones, and the first layers of pastel stick nicely to that too. 

Here's a little daily painting, following the same steps as in "Morning Glow": 
"Colors and Light" 5 x 7 Chalk Pastel on Flat Canvas
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I've been framing my pastels on canvas under glass, as there's no way they would survive without a cover.  I still like to use good old-fashioned paper now and then.  There's something so enjoyable about building up the layers of color and texture on a nice sturdy canvas, I'll probably continue to play around with this method for a while.


  1. Hi again Niki, lovely site and I just noticed you live in Fallbrook great place to live very beautiful as is your art..
    take care and have a great day!!!

  2. I thought I was here Nikki, love all this the way you have it set up and of course the art is beautiful...I don't if I gave you my blogs..but will ..ok..and I want to join you..

  3. I have 3 so maybe if you have time...take a look
    This one I feature artist ..but am closing it till sept..

    This one is just mine..this is my main one...good to see you Niki!!!

    1. Thanks Sherri, definitely going to check it out!


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