quick draw in pastel

I am going to talk a little about my quick draw experience and at the request of Ida, posting the 3 most recent quick draw results. 
About the images…the pieces are all in the approximate size of 9″x12″ or 12″x9″ depending on the orientation of the paper.  The vertical one of the cottonwoods along the water and farm buildings in the background was the one I completed in 30 minutes for the Miles City  Bucking Horse Sale Quick Draw event in May.  The horizontal of the aspens along the river with the cliffs on the right was done at the 2010 Festival of the Arts in Joseph, OR in 1 and a  half hours and the river in fall with lots of vegetation was done for the Wallowa Festival of the Arts as well, but  in 2009.  It was also a 1.5 hour limit.
So I approach the quick draw events with a plan in place.  For one that allows only a 30 minute drawing/painting time, one needs to be well prepared for the party!  I went to Miles City with an entirely different image in my mind to paint – hay bales – which are fun to do and I had worked up a nice sketch and also felt it was a piece that would work well and hopefully sell well for the area.  I worked the trials on this several times and was really never comfortable in completing it the way I wanted in the 30 minute time frame.  So I was feeling a little uneasy and finally decided to abort that plan and work up something different.  I still wanted something relevant to the area to hopefully entice bidding from local collectors, so decided that the cottonwoods would be my best bet.  Going back before the hay bales I had toyed with the idea of something representational of the Yellowstone River Valley – because that’s where MC lies…along the river near some beautiful rugged multicolored hills covered with pines, juniper, sage etc.  With a couple of mock quick draws, using my idea of the fall cottonwoods, my confidence was restored knowing I could create something that was quality in a 30 minute time.  It worked!  The piece was the highest selling art at over $1000.  So my set up included having the paper type that I knew would work well – a sheet of black Art Spectrum paper (I wanted that black to assist me is creating depth; knowing I wouldn’t have to do a very heavy coloring of my favorite deep blue for the depth I desired and that it would allow for good texture for my focal point cottonwood leaves.) and I had chosen my palette and put those pastels separate from my large color box (keep me focused on the colors I needed over that 30 minutes!).  I also packed my supplied and had them all together so there wasn’t any stress in getting set up.  This quick draw was in a wonderful city park, so I wanted to be situated in a spot that had some shade to work in (lots of huge trees) so getting there early was important so I could pick a spot that would work for me.  The artists  have to bring all their props.  I used my French easel and a chair to set my pastels and other supplies on.  For me, keeping it simple works…The quick draws tend to gather a group of on-lookers and one thing that is fun is to be able to visit a little with the folks taking an interest in your work…with a 30 minute time frame – one needs to concentrate pretty much on your work and not visit too much…but I managed to do a little chatting while I painted.  Because I had a plan and subsequently stayed with it; the piece was actually ready for it’s frame at 25 minutes.  So for the short time frame quick draws, I suggest a well planned piece, not an extremely intense piece, but one that still is good quality and represents ones workmanship, supplies picked ahead of time and separated.  If you have practiced painting the piece and know you can complete it in the time frame; you are already ahead of the game because  you have that confidence before  you start the event!
As far as the quick draws that allow an hour or hour and a half…you get to work slower, compose a more complex study and visit a little more with those gathered around!  I still go through the same steps…knowing that I can complete a specific work in the time frame; isolate my chosen palette, have all my supplies organized, etc. 
Quick draws are fun; gets your heart rate going and the adrenalin pumping.  People watching love them because they can see a piece of work materialize before their eyes.
The two quick draws in Joseph, OR are held in an old bank building.  It is a very interesting log building with two floors and lots of windows.  But, this quick draw is an evening event, so the windows are not a source of light and one must bring some lighting…which can add to the warming up the temperature of your work area in a hurry.  This venue is a fun one to go as well.  The event includes music, drinks, treats; a real event for the people buy a ticket for the event and come to watch and bid on the works.
I like both set  ups and have a great time doing quick draws.  It’s the challenge, I guess, to get a painting done, get it done right; get it done with a time limit!
That’s my take on this!  Happy painting….


About bonnie griffith

I am a landscape artist who works in pastels, oils and acrylics. My work focuses on representational studies of the western US. I am basically self taught with lots of workshops and studies with several landscape artists such as Bruce Haughey and Clark Elster. I live in southwestern Idaho, am a native Montanan with a strong connection to the land. I spend as much time as I can in MT painting as well other parts of the northwest. I appreciate getting out in the field and working plein air because there is nothing like completing a painting in the true light of day and visually not being compromised by the use of a photo. In my work, my goal is to produce a piece of work that draws the viewer into the painting and challenges them to explore the scene; get a sense of the time of day, the temperature, the light or lack of. If I have gotten that viewer to step out of their reality and into that painting and enjoy it, then my work was accomplished as I wished. View all posts by bonnie griffith

3 responses to “quick draw in pastel

  • Ida M. Glazier

    WoW! What a wonderfully well described blog you have—love all the info about the quick-draws and have this one question—I had thought it would be more a plein-air thing-that you would be required to paint the scene in front of you–whatever that may be–maybe something for the area or something. Are you saying that you choose yourself and bring the reference with you??? I do love your work, and thanks for posting the images , they are all wonderful. Love your blog!!!


  • B Zahn Griffith

    thank you Ida! I appreciate your kind words. Here is a little more info based on your questions. Also, sometimes I use a reference photo for a quick draw and sometimes not. Depends how comfortable I am with what I painting.Sometimes a quick draw is a plein air event and you paint something in front of you. Some plein air events have a time frame associated with them as well. The Joseph Festival of Arts event include a plein air competition. The time frame however, was from 5a.m. to noon to complete your work and frame it and take it to the designated gallery space. The area set aside to paint at was pretty broad – for instance one day it was at “the Quail Run Ranch” where one could paint at a huge variety of places; 360 degrees of views! Another day was another setting, similar. At this year’s plein air, both days were so cold and raining that I painted one day looking out of the horse barn because it sheltered me from the elements and the next day I was sitting in a garage looking at the creek and a tepee against a bank of trees at the base of Mt. Joseph, part of the Wallowa’s. Neither day I started at 5 a.m. because it was so cold and wet! So the plans for the quick draws and plein airs are similar; but different. Some plein air events are merely just “paint outs”. The Northwest Pastel Society hosts a plein air paint out for members each year. Members just go and paint at suggested spots, researched by someone local to the area of paint out.The most important thing with all this painting whether it is plein air, quick draw, studio work is JUST HAVE A GOOD TIME!!!!


  • The Idaho Beauty

    What a wonderful outcome for the auction. Beautiful work, as always.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: