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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Remember Narnia?

"Bowing Oak"
9 x 12 inch Chalk pastel on flat canvas
Click here to view large or purchase
There are many sights that inspire artists here in Fallbrook.  Live Oak Park is both a wonderful location for families and a great place to take in the play of light and shadow on the trees.

As a child, I remember enjoying the twists and turns of the park and the large, shady areas to run wild with other kids.  As an adult who likes to paint trees, I have a whole new appreciation for the park.  The tree in the painting above inspired me both from an artist's and a child's point of view.  It reminded me of the dryads in one of my favorite childhood book series, The Chronicles of Narnia.  Although I enjoy the Narnia movies, my memories of the books are much stronger, and one of the scenes I often think of when I see such lifelike trees is when Susan and Lucy happened upon the Dryads dancing in the moonlight.

"Bowing Oak" was created with my favorite technique for capturing strong lights and darks with pastels: wet chalk on flat canvas (to get the darks), with a top layer of dry chalk (to get the lights). 

If you're looking for inspiration for paintings, sometimes the most powerful subjects can be those that capture both your artist's eye and your childhood imagination.

"Trellis Blooms"
9 x 12 Chalk pastel on paper
Click here to view large or purchase
Looking for free summer art ideas?  Visit my latest lessons on Bright Hub:

Create a summer scene mixed media collage

Beginner plein air painting: using a viewfinder

Create a night sky fireworks pastel

See more of my artwork at

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Road Trip!

"Sierra Slopes"
8 x 10 inch Chalk and Oil Pastel on Flat Canvas
Click here to view prints
I learned a few things on a recent trip up highway 395.

Babies can only handle so much time in a carseat (especially on the way home.  It's like they know).

My phone can take focused pictures through glass at high rates of speed (not above the speed limit, of course).  There might be some reflections on the photo, but I can edit those out as needed.

A long car trip is much more tolerable if you look at the scenery as potential paintings.

Not all McDonald's bathrooms are created equal.

Once I got home, I flipped through my photo gallery on my phone and was pretty excited about what I had.  As I worked on this painting, I did a little thinking about the benefits of using flat canvas for pastels:

Less prep work: no paper, board, tape required!

Nice toothy, textured surface (not great if you like that velvety smooth look, though)

Lightweight, easy to handle

A little easier to set aside: less likely to smear, can stand on its own for storing upright

Handles combined media (acrylic underpainting, oil pastel resist, even watercolor- all look great under chalk)

Easy to turn a dry pastel into a wet one, just brush with water to blend

All of these characteristics make flat canvas my surface of choice for quick pastel painting sessions.  Of course, I forgot my can of fixative for the trip, so I ended up waiting to use my pastels until I got home.

If you like today's painting, visit my Land and Seascapes Gallery!

Click below to see a free lesson on creating simple land and seascapes: