Pastel Dust on 1-1-11

Normally I wouldn’t do two blog entries in a single day, but since this is January 1 and I am committed to doing the “Art a Day project for January I decided to go ahead and post the image and talk about the process a little. 

This little 6×6 inch pastel piece is also one of the 50 off the 90 series.  I snapped a digital image as we were driving to Seattle over Thanksgiving of the Cle Elum River just west of Roslyn and Cle Elum just before it joins the Yakima River.  The image serves as a digitally enhanced, “cartooned” image for my screen saver on my computer and I liked it well enough that I decided to go ahead and paint a representation of the landscape.  This area, for those not familiar with the Cascades of WA is on I-90, probably about 20-30 miles west of Ellensburg and a ways before you get to the Snoqualmie summit and pass of the Cascades which once you crest,  are then headed into  western WA.  The Cascades are rugged, craggy  mountains and there is usually a bunch of snow in this area.  Shortly before Thanksgiving a storm blanketed the area for that proverbial “Christmas card scene of the snow laden trees and meadows of undisturbed snow albeit for wild animal tracks and lots of streams winding through the area.  The color the day we were driving thru was pretty dim in that the sun was hidden with high fog and it was mid to late afternoon with the light nearly gone for the day…especially in the mountains.

I decided to use a piece of Canson gray paper for the piece.  I didn’t have a particular reason to using a sheet of Canson as opposed to Wallis or Art Spectrum (my favorite papers) except that I was only doing a 6×6 inch piece and I wanted to see how that particular undertone color of the paper would work with the colors I wanted to bring out in the painting.  Because you can’t layer on very many layers of pigment (the Canson just doesn’t allow that) I decided to work with harder pastels and some that are pretty “gritty”.  I used some Mungyo semihard pastels for the base and then some Diane Townsend pastels for some texture.  Townsend  pastels have that bit of grit in them that works really well with Canson, particularly when you want to add some “sparkle” to the piece and enhance the 3D impression of the work.  I also used one of my favorites – the #463 deep blue Sennilier which is my absolute favorite depth defining color.

The 509 Art group is hosting the Art a Day project.  This is a group of artists residing within the 509 area code in and around the TriCities of WA.  Last year I did my 100 small works project and that was a fulfilling and challenging project.  This sounded like fun so I decided to push my creativity a little and sign up for the project!  Don’t think it has to be specifically a painting a day, so I may use some of the days for sketching or creating a greeting card with collage and art stamps or maybe a new collage…I will probably post weekly with images of the week’s work and talk about the details of the works that I would think might be interesting or helpful to an artist…or give someone the urge they might be needing to jump into the art world and start creating!!!

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

2 responses to “Pastel Dust on 1-1-11

  • Deb Townsend

    Really love this one. Thanks for your explanation of the choices of pastels and paper. I haven’t tried any of my Diane Townsends on Cranson yet. Must do that!


    • bonniegriffith

      thank you Deb. There are two kinds of Townsend pastels…the regular soft pastels and the “Terrages”. The Terrage pastels she makes have more pumice in them and allows you to work on paper that doesn’t have much tooth – by opening up what tooth there is and accepting the pigment. (I get them from Dakota Art Pastels – best pastel source and physical store that I have found) fyi – She offfers a set of darks that are REALLY dark. My best to you and take time to do your lovely art! Happy New Year, friend!


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