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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A Peek into Joy’s Garden ~ Plein Air Painting Lesson

Searching for small pastel papers to continue my journey back into pastel, I came across 3 plein air studies I’d done in 2013. Just after Dad died, I attended a plein air painting event in western Maryland. Mountain Maryland Plein Air in Cumberland and Allegany County is a wonderful intimate event. I welcomed the chance to paint in some beautiful private gardens.

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

Stumbling across the old paintings in the drawer, they felt dark and lifeless. It got me wondering how they would look today. I set one beside a fresh pastel paper and began blocking in the background shapes.

I resisted the temptation of painting back into it directly. Moving on, I worked with the new palette for awhile. Nothing like it’s inspiration piece, I felt unsure.

I sucked it up and kept going.

A Peek into Joy’s Garden

Setting it in the frame helped me step back and see it away from my previous vision. I like to keep a few frames in the studio for just that purpose. So many times I can’t see a painting’s strengths and weaknesses until I see it in a frame.

plein air garden painting
Late Bloomer I, pastel on sanded panel, 10 x 8, PURCHASE INFO>

A day later I found myself in the botanic garden photographing tulips. Sitting in the cafe garden with a cold drink, I felt at home. Mind racing with painting images, colors for the new palette I’d ordered. I can taste the sweetness. Can you feel the shift in the two paintings?

I sure can. The difference between saying goodbye to Dad and stepping into Joy’s Garden is profound. I hadn’t realized until I finished writing this, that today is the anniversary of Dad’s passing. Rest in Peace Dad.

abstract floral pastel painting
Late Bloomer I, pastel, 10 x 8, PURCHASE INFO>
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