Pastel Dust…in the Shadows

Some of the most interesting paintings have lots of shadows in them, I think.  I got interested in some intense shadow effect this winter with the shadows that come forth on a bright sunny day and lots of snow in the mountains where there’s lots of trees and trails and snow banks, etc.  I painted some of those scenes from reference shots and liked them enough to enter a couple in some competitions….(jury is still out on these…)

This past week I had dropped off my daughter for an evening meeting.  The light along the sidewalk shining on the shrubs and reflections in the windows was an interesting composition.  I shot a couple of photos of it and thought I might do something with it.  Then with shadows still on my brain, I started going through the archives of photos I have and thinking about the area we live in with all the steep hills, deep, narrow valleys in the Blues and the Snake River country…And I found some good reference material…lots of darkened valleys with just a hint of color in a few trees where the sun peeks through.  The first painting – outside of the snow ones previously done – was of the Waitsburg Road in late afternoon, nearly obliterated in darkness except for the hilltops and some tall brush and trees…Cool look.  I put the pastel to a Art Spectrum board and used some Diane Townsend “darks” for the darks.  I can’t quite go BLACK…my dark is blue over some black…I have a couple of more in the work.  The goal is to give the painting a mysterious feeling.

When I travel the roads in the bottom of these deep valleys in the afternoon, I think back whe I lived inChicago. I would  walk through the financial district in “the loop” and even in the middle of the summer felt chilly because there was virtually no sunlight on the street in some areas because the buildings are so tall and block the light.  Sort of dark down there at street level – not unlike being in the woods in the low lands of the valleys.

I like the shadows and the stories they give you…it’s a different perspective!

Happy painting to all my artist friends out there…


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

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