Simplifying...It's Complicated.


"Ridgeline" 9 x 12 Chalk and Oil Pastel on Flat Canvas
Click here to purchase original

I may have mentioned before that I had a teacher who would ask if we were "simplifiers" or complicators" as painters.  I wanted to say I was a complicator, because I get caught up in noodling and making sure things look exactly the way I want before I consider a piece finished.  In my heart, though, I think I am a simplifier-- a quick look at most of my artwork would show that I like to focus on the big shapes, values, and colors.

I started"Ridgeline" plein air with chalk pastel on canvas.  It came out a bit dull though, so I added water to blend it.  The water didn't do much, so I began working in some oil pastel to bring out those brighter colors.  That did the trick (normally I don't put oil pastel on top of chalk, but on flat canvas it seems to work just fine).  I struggled with the overall texture of the piece, as I liked the scratchy look of pastel on canvas, but not in a distracting way.  The combination of oil and chalk pastel  added consistency to the piece, and I finally felt that it was complete.  It didn't look anything like the ridgeline I had sat outside and painted, but I was much happier with it.

"Cool Water" 9 x 12 Chalk and Oil Pastel on Flat Canvas
Click here to purchase original

This was another piece that started off simple, then grew difficult as I struggled to add the right highlights and darks to balance it.  I used a photo from a trip to the East Coast as a reference, and it was merely sky, water, and a bit of shadowy ground on the horizon.  I used the chalk pastel and water combination, only to find that I needed a little oil pastel here too, so I could capture those darker areas.  I kept adding and blending, finally getting the right balance and colors and feeling that the painting had that simplified feeling at the end.

To see more art inspired by the places I visit, click here.

Click here to see original paintings in my Etsy store.


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