Monthly Archives: June 2011

Pastel dust in the Wallowa County…


In the last blog I talked about the Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts in Joseph, Or and the Quick Draw event.  There’s a lot more to this area than just the Art Festival.  Every time I go Joseph I come home with a bunch of images.  It is truly a beautiful valley.  When you leave Walla Walla you head south down to Weston and then take the cut off (Winn Road) that takes you over Tollgate in the Blue Mountains to Elgin, OR (that’s SR 204)  Once you leave Elgin you take SR 82 on to Joseph.  You go down the side of a steep canyon and at the bottom you cross the Big Canyon Creek where the Wallowa River and it meet and flow down to meet the Grand Rhonde.  The views are breathtaking as the valley opens up as you go through Wallowa, the Lostine and Enterprise before reaching Joseph which sits near Wallowa Lake a huge body of water from which the Wallowa River flow.  It is tucked right up next to these big mountains with lots of cabins and luxury homes all along the shorelines.

If you drive north and east of Joseph, you go through the Zumwalt Prairie and you will gradually come to the Buckhorn Overlook where you can see the Hells Canyon of the Snake river and the Imnaha converge.  It is rugged, colorful, beautiful country.

Whenever I go, I take painting supplies and manage to get out and do some plein air painting.  Last spring we drove to the Buckhorn Overlook and on the way  back you could see the ground cover that is pinkish flourishing, leaving the grasslands with a pink haze to them.  Lots of thunder storms in the spring and dramatic skies to paint as well.  the piece on the left was done before a big rain storm broke loose that sent rivers of water running down the tire tracks of the gravel road!                                 

We stay at a little B&B outside of town and the roads getting to it go along some swampy area where there are lots of cattails and willows.  The red winged blackbirds love that area and I spent quite a bit of time trying to get some good shots of the birds sitting on the cattails.  

another note is that in the spring of the year, there is such a range of greens in the foliage.  It is quite the sight.

I am going back to Joseph in August to paint at Kelly’s Gallery during the Blues Festival (Aug 13-14) .  I look forward to that and think the weather will be hot and sunny, maybe less green but still impressive, just the same.  Joseph is a great little town to explore and it, along with Enterprise and surrounds have a wealth of great artists.  One is never at a loss to find some good art and sculpture in this destination!


Pastel Dust in Joseph, OR Quick Draw


Joseph, OR is a little town of less than 2000 that is nestled up next to the Wallowa Mountains in NE Oregon and near one of the most beautiful lakes – Wallowa Lake.  The area was part of the Nez Pearce land and Chief Joseph.  The area is filled with history but more recently artists.  This area has some of the NW’s best artists,     sculpture and 2D.  Each year the Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts happens the first full weekend of June.  I have gone for several  years now and exhibited there.  Over the last 3 years they have had a quick draw event that is a very fun and exciting time.  There is live music, fabulous treats and appetizers and drinks while several artists attempt to create a masterpiece in a one and a half hour time frame.  As the artists draw, paint, sculpt, the attendees have the option to watch the pieces come to life and then bid on their favorite work.  The silent auction then goes on for a half an hour after the quick draw time limit is up.

This quick draw is, as I said an hour and a half long.  The quick draw event at the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale that I go to is one half an hour-long!  So to approach that event is  a little different from this one that allows an hour more! I love to do these for the challenge.

All that said, there is some definite planning that has to occur to make a quick draw a success and even then I rely on a little divine intervention because sometimes even the best laid plans can turn upside down in a hurry!

The process…I know going to the event the exact size of painting I am going to do.  I have the mat ready, in the frame and the paper I am working on is mounted on a foam core cut to the size of the frame.  Once the painting is complete, it slides into the prepped frame, backing paper covers the back and the wire for hanging screwed in place. (All these details – thanks my husband Les)

I know what I am going to paint.  I have sketched it and laid it out on a sketch pad prior to the  event.  This year I decided to do a painting based on a few photos I had taken in the Joseph area in years past.  The basic scene is one looking at Prairie Creek and some cows grazing in deep, lush grasses.

This year, my friend Betty Wood is attending the show and she is there with camera in hand.  She photographed the process of the painting from the beginning to its completion.  Betty is a fine artist.  She works in lots of different mediums, most recently having some fun with wood carving.  Her work is amazing and wins at the wood carving shows consistently.

I first of all use a hard pastel stick and make some light lines on the paper, separating the paper into quadrants to allow me to quickly place cows, an old

barn, trees, etc in strategic, visually satisfying spots.  I am using Pastel Mat paper.  It is new to me and I love it.  It has an almost suede, soft feel to it, yet it holds pastel well.  I am using a salmon colored sheet and will allow some of the paper to be exposed.

I start painting at the top of the paper and block in the sky, followed  by the  Wallowa Mountains which I want to be a significant resemblance of the mountains.    I work fairly quickly and get this done so I can start on the meat of the painting.      Before I have started, I have earmarked the basic pastels I want to use and limit my palette so I am not wasting time looking for that particular blue or whatever color it might be.  Once the mountains and sky are complete I can concentrate on the near land mass.  I rough in the trees and   basic shapes of the land and creek with a dark blue.  Once that is on the paper I use a workable fixative and

give it a quick spray.  That dark blue is the base for the springtime trees  and the contour of the creek bed.  From that point it is about

getting the distant valley in and establish a depth and distance and getting the up close basic color in.  Once that is done I add the old barn and draw in the cows…shapes only at this point.  People stop by and watch the process and I visit as I can.  I don’t feel too much pressure because things are coming together.  I love to show the process to the people who are there.

I then get the creek to come to life with some reflections and the feel of moving water.  I add the small amounts of details to the cows.  They are Hereford/Angus cross, so white faces and some white along the top of the neck and tail are added.   

I use a hard pastel and “burnish the grasses in a little lighter value that the base.  Some light purples set to dance across the fields as a hint of wild flowers.  Also use some of the Diane Townsend sticks because they have a lot of grabbing power because of the degree of pumice in them…texture in the foreground !  The other pastels are Unison, Sennelier, Terry Ludwig and some Schmincke.  The dark blue is #463 Sennelier.  With about 20 minutes or so to spare, I feel like the work has come together.  I shoot a couple of shots of it and Les helps me get it in the frame.  Another friend Penne Locati is there and we visit now that I am finished.  She and a friend bid on it  throughout the process, but at the last moment another dedicated bidder wins the piece.  It sells for highest price at the quick draw…more than $400 and goes to Pendleton to live.  The buyer told me she bought it to honor her mother in remembrance.    A nice way to have one’s work represented…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  


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