In the Garden with Pastels Again

I wasn’t sure about the first one so I did another. I guess the brilliant colors startled me, compared to the muted tones of the plein air oil on paper. I didn’t even get the whole composition on the page!

I walked away still unsure about them. Then on Monday I went to Richmond to deliver five paintings. While in town I decided to visit the botanic gardens. Oh my!

plein air garden painting
inspiration plein air oil painting on gessoed paper, 12 x 9

By the time I got there my cell phone camera was down to 30% power! Hardly sufficient for an afternoon in the garden, I strategized to get the most with what I had and headed for the tulips.

In the Garden with Pastels Again

In full bloom. Fabulous colors, brilliant sunshine, a flurry of breeze. I made it through the tulips and orchid house before the camera blacked out.

Back in the visitor center a volunteer generously offered to recharge my phone with her own cord! Fizzy drink in hand I sauntered out on the sunny veranda. Recharging immediately, I wished I’d packed a sketchbook. Note to self: fix a tiny backpack with sketchbook, tiny pastel box, pencil and oh my backup Ipad!

plein air painting study
plein air oil study with pastel

Colors raced through my mind’s eye. I’d ordered new oil paints that morning. Charvin oils I’d oogled over for years were on their way to my studio! I could taste them already. Selecting them was more like selecting pastels than oil paints.

Charvin Oils are made on the French Riviera for 175 years and come in wonderful colors like Sennelier pastels. In addition to expected pigments like Cobalt Violet and Raw Sienna, I also ordered French Yellow Deep, Celadon Green, Peacock Green, St. Remy Blue, Opaline Green Deep, Meadow Green, Provence Blue, Magenta Ruby, French Blue Violet, and Green Gray Light.

They come in 150 ml tubes, which will be wonderful for the large paintings I am envisioning. Abstract gardens, colors juxtaposed.

I believe I’ll make a lid for my studio palette. When I close the lid on my plein air palette, the colors stay moist overnight. If I switch to a slower drying white, use a cover, I should be able to keep them moist for a week.

An afternoon in the garden truly feels like coming home!

abstract floral painting garden painting
Muse II, pastel on sanded card, 10 x 8,
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Artist Quest for Color: Return to Pastel Landscape

It all started with a purple mountain.

Day before yesterday, I saw a purple mountain on one of the oil paintings currently on my working wall.

pastel landscape
Purple Mountain (Muse I), pastel on sanded panel, 8 x 10 PURCHASE INFO>

With the purple mountain in my mind’s eye, I moved the oil painting to my easel and stopped. Instead of going for the paint brush, I walked across the studio and laid out 2 trays of pastel. I dug through the drawer and found a small sanded panel.

Stepping back, I looked across the room at the oil painting. A piece of luscious vibrant purple pigment on the palette caught my eye. I grabbed it and stroked the mountain into the gritty surface.

Artist Quest for Color Unleashed

This unleashed a cascade of color. Lavenders, yellows, golds, greens, blues and finally vermilion red rang across the paper. A chorus of voices singing in harmony, one behind the other. I hung on for dear life and let them lead me by the hand. When they quieted down, I clipped the pastel to my easel and replayed their song in oil paint.

Now I am not going to post the oil painting ~ not yet. I have been searching for something in my art. Since 2012 I have been looking for a deeper connection. A deeper, more fluent connection with my own unique voice. This connection between pastel and oil satisfies my quest.

New Approach ~ Find the Trigger

I have struggled to make my oils behave like pastels. Why? Why not speak first in my primary language, then translate.

Touching raw pigment triggers something for me. This first piece is the beginning of a new chapter. Rather than post the oil paintings now, I will hold them until I have several. In the meantime, I will use pastel to open my door. (No pun intended!)

pastel palette
Colors on my pastel palette include hand mixed pigments from Unison, Sennelier, and Diane Townsend.

PASTEL LANDSCAPE  What many may not know is that pastel was my ‘first language.’ Although I have not used pastels much in the past 20 years, I first used them in college. Through the late 70s and 80s, my pastels won me entry to national exhibitions at Pastel Society of America, Pastel Society of Canada, Virginia Museum, and numerous others. My pastels are in the permanent collections of the City University of New York, Longwood University Art Museum, and many corporate collections.

I turned my back on pastel when clients asked for oil paintings. It IS time for me to come home! No more searching. Only singing with my own unique voice!

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Mindfullness Painting Project

Mindfullness. Everyone has a mind full of images expressing who we are ~ in a truly deep and meaningful way. You don’t have to be an artist to let them out ~ where they can benefit you. This is something anyone can do.

My Mindfullness Painting Project
turned into a book

A year ago today, I began my 365 Precious Moments project. I set out to make a small painting each day, to rediscover what I had during my French residency. I wanted to do something that would train me fully ~ to live each moment like the French.

I know it looks like I’d quit the project. Truth is ~ it has transformed and taken me with it.

For once in my life, I have enough time and money to do what is truly precious. It took me 15 minutes with a tiny canvas & paintbrush to focus my Creativity, feel centered and ready to take on the world.

DAY 365

Now I find myself living a life where everything is precious ~ every conversation with every person, every brush stroke, every word. For once in my life, I have enough time and money to do what is truly precious.

This doesn’t mean I live in the Taj Mahal and bad stuff doesn’t happen. It means life is precious. I focus on one precious moment of it at a time ~ just like I did on DAY 1, when I took 15 precious minutes to paint, Homage to Monet.

DAY 1 ~ one day at a time

mindfullness painting
DAY 1 Homage to Monet, oil, 6 x 6

I went along for awhile, painting the tiny paintings. I found I could come home from a day filled with running around, errands and meetings ~ and stop for 15 minutes to center myself with a paint brush, let the Creator in, and feel rested and rejuvenated. I learned that my world would wait for 15 minutes while I did this for myself!

DAY 90 ~ a bigger container

Soon I began finding it hard to contain myself to small canvases. I let loose on some bigger ones. I thought I had failed the project because I couldn’t contain myself.

DAY 180 ~ where dreams grow up and learn to fly

By March, I had a vision for a new series of paintings. I cleared the studio of all my past paintings and focused on developing my vision. I thought I had totally abandoned the project.

DAY 240 ~ fusion

I began discovering artworks, created throughout these past 365 precious days, that illustrate a poem I wrote twenty years ago, when I married Jim. I lived into my own poem, without even knowing it.

miondfullness paintings
Mixed Media on Cradled Wood Panels

Discovering this is reawakening the printmaker I was trained to be. A printmaker is trained to think in evolutions of images. In college, we learned to develop each image, by pulling a series of process prints. Draw, paint, print. Draw, paint, print. With each print, we were taught to ask and answer questions about it’s design.

We were also trained in lettering and typography, and required to create a portfolio ‘book’ of artist’s prints, illustrating a story or theme. My senior portfolio was a series of large-scale, color woodcuts, illustrating song lyrics from traditional jug band music.

DAY 300 ~ regenerating

Why was I so surprised to find myself, creating a book of original, mixed media prints? The images illustrating my poem are snippets of paintings. Some are early stages of paintings, which went on to become something else entirely. It is obvious, remembering who I am, I would yearn to move these images to their next evolution.

mindfullness poetry book
Joy’s Garden Book PURCHASE

DAY 366 ~ in the flow

TODAY . . . I am creating a limited edition of 10 handmade, mixed media prints, based on the images in this book. I am starting with these three. They are based on a painting called Embrace of the Mountain, which is fueling my Tuscany Retreats.

DAY 367?

TOMORROW . . . We’ll see where these go from here.

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