Evening skies

I love to paint skies – storm skies, evening skies, wispy cloud skies….they say a lot and and can mean different things to different people.
When I was a kid, I liked to go out and lay down in the grass on a windy day and watch the clouds, ever changing, making cool formations as they moved with the currents of the air.  Fortunately Where I lived you weren’t in danger or being run over or something while you were laying there in the grass day dreaming….guess that’s one of the perks to being a kid on some thousands of acres in the middle of Montana!  Clouds are great.  On my last trip to Montana, the skies were fabulous and I took a lot of reference photos of great skies.  The skies in the three paintings today were two evening skies near Walla Walla.  One evening as the sun was setting, there was this beautiful golden-pinkish glow.  The large horizontal images above with the golden fields are pretty representational of that; however  there is more of a pink tint to the actual paintings than is represented in the photo.

Regarding technique…I used the pastel boards from Art Spectrum for the  fields with water and the hillside fields with trees in central part of painting.  These are great to work with, have good tooth.  I used the “elephant” colour boards….a nice purplish gray color.  The other painting was done on a sanded paper from La Carte.  I have not used this paper before, but it is very nice and it comes in a lot of great colors.  I used an “earth” colored paper.  I love Wallis, but this is great paper as well.
I used a variety of pastels, but did hone in on several of the Diane Townsend earthy colors as well as Unison and some Schmincke.  I love the Terrage’ sticks Diane Townsend has.  They are big and gritty and are great to add that sparkle as last minute touch to a painting…and…there are some good bold colors that I like!

Looking forward to a trip early to the farmer’s market in the morning, early – to beat the heat.  Our weather has reached the 100 degree range now, so being outside midday  and working in the heat is not the most pleasant, so it’s better to paint early and late in the day.  But, that’s summer and I do enjoy it.

I ordered some plein air frames for some paintings.   Awaiting their arrival and am anxious to see how the pastels look in them.  These are about 4 inch frames that have a deep enough rabbet to accommodate a spacer between the pastel and the glass.  With this system, you don’t mat the painting.  So the finished product has the look of an oil painting.  It’s is a very classy look, so we will see how this goes.  Even though the framing material is a little more expensive, there is not the expense of mat and because there is no mat the overall glass size is less, so that saves something.  I will post some images of framed work once I get them completed.
So in the meantime…happy painting and stay cool in the heat of the summer!!   


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

4 responses to “Evening skies

  • Ida M. Glazier

    Hey there again!! What great skies, they are beautiful….and so are your comp's. I also love skies, and took many pictures while out plein-airing yesterday. We are having thunder clouds this week. didn't do great painting yesterday—so much green, and a new place to learn. Will go back, tho. Loved reading about your work today, I use the boards sometimes, and use a watercolor underpainting. I love the La Carte paper, Dianna Ponting uses it almost always—-Do you know her work? I am back at the drawing board, so to speak. So much to learn!! One of my small plein-airs from last year sold yesterday—-something I was shocked at, in a small local gallery here, guess there is hope afterall. Take care!!


  • B Zahn Griffith

    Ida, thanks for the comments! And congrats for selling a painting! That's great. I sold one today at one of the wineries locally. Was happy about that as well.I have seen Dianna Ponting's work and I like it a lot. Have you taken a workshop from her? I am working on photographing some work. The top one on the left is giving me problems with the colors. the color in it (photographed) is not true to the image. I took it out today and redid it with a bunch of different camera settings. It is much more warm evening color than what came out of the camera :-(…So that's what I am going to do now is download those new images and see how they look.Keep painting Ida!!! Maybe someday we can go out and paint together somewhere!


  • Ron

    Great looking skies! I've been using 1/8 clear spacers for framing, (no matte), like you were saying. I am interested in how your frames look and where you ordered them. I agree the frame needs to wider (3-4 inches, when not using a matte), but I have hard time finding frames like that around here. beautiful paintings!


  • B Zahn Griffith

    Hi Ron…thanks for the comments. I did tweek the sky a little in the vertical one…put in some 'up-swoops" of the coral color…looks better. Regarding frames…I am on the hunt for frames. See, I usually buy 12' lengths of molding and cut the frames, but I have been using about a inch and a half or two inch material. These are with a mat. I usually put a 4" mat on them too. But without matting, the frame really needs to be wide…3-4 inches. I have ordered some ready made ones from Jerry's Artarama. They had a great sale, and even if they are less than perfect; I haven't broke the bank. Anyway, they are called "plein air"frames so they have the deep rabbet to accommodate the spacer, board or paperon a board, and glass.. A friend of mine buys from a website called Plein Air Frames. they have a large selection and you can buy the inserts that go inside the frame for decor…like a linen or different colored insert on the inside edge. The Jerry's frames are relatively plain (but I like that for shows) and they come in mahogany, black and gold. I ordered some gold and a mahogany or two. I did find a nice one at a Hobby Lobby when I was in MT and I suspect Michaels and Craft Warehouse might have a few. HL only had a few and they were pretty spendy. $50+ compared to about $20something for these I just ordered (same size)…11×14 I think. And then if you get museum glass, it almost makes the painting look like an oil because there is hardly a reflection with that glass. So if one considers time to make a mat or double mat (which I always do), make the frame, cut the glass (more glass required because of matting)…the expense of the plein air frame without matting and even using museum glass, may prove to be less expensive and less hassle. I will let you know what I think of the ones from Jerry's and I will probably order some from Plein Air as well. If you google "plein air frames" you get quite a list as well. Another oil painting friend of mine gets her stuff on line and orders "plein air frames" from a different co as well…don't remember the name. I will post something about them and maybe even after the pieces are framed. I have a bunch of regular glass and it's ok…just not as stunning as museum glass.take care!


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