Monthly Archives: August 2011

Pastel Dust en Plein Air…


The last post talked about the trip to Whidbey Island, WA for the Northwest Pastel Society annual Paint Out and included some of the photos I shot of the island. But the main reason for going was to actually paint out on location of choice!

I like to be surrounded by all my props usually.   That way you are never without a color or particular paper, etc.  In other words, there isn’t much excuse to not get a painting done.  Well, then when plein air comes into play…it requires you hauling your supplies and equipment out in country, set up and paint.  Whoa!  I can’t possibly take all my “stuff. ‘ So I condense things, take my full size French easel, another bag of necessaries, like the extra pastels the art box won’t hold, paper, gloves, apron, board, etc.   And a chair.  Ok, with this load I am not going to venture too far from base.  The easel is a torture…there is always something coming undone and flopping and dragging.  So in this instance, if you are really lucky, maybe you can drive to the spot you want to paint and on Whidbey, you can do that at many sites.  One site we painted was in a state park and there was a picnic table.  Heaven!  The light was great and I painted a trail leading into the forest         Another day we found this beautifully landscaped rhodie garden which had many more varieties plants than just rhodies.  All fairly easy spots to get to.  So then I decided if I am going to paint plein air then I best quip myself with a manageable pack.  So that is what I have done.  I scrapped the French easel for a compact Daniel Smith 5# one that holds your pastel box when set up.  It carries easily and then with one bag and fold up chair (optional, depending on where and how long I am going) I can at least get out of the parking lot!

So plein air takes some extra effort, but there is nothing like getting out there and painting without the aid of a photo.  You need to take into consideration the ever-changing light, the elements, narrowing your field of view into something manageable and have the props you need with you. A well done plein air piece just stands out from the crowd!

Happy painting…             

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Pastel Dust on Whidbey Island


5 days of nothing but painting, photographing, enjoying fellow artists on one of the prettiest islands in the northwest.  Whidbey  is an island you can reach via ferry from Mukilteo (near Everett and Edmonds, WA) on the south end or via Hwy 20 from the mainland through Anacortes and over the Deception Pass Bridge.

The event was the annual Northwest Pastel Society Paint Out organized by a couple of NPS members who took on a big project of finding suggested painting spots, dining, demonstrations by artists and lodging at Fort Casey.  Jan Wall and Karen Schroeder made the event what it was and by all testaments by attendees it was a success.

I coercer-ed my friend and fellow artist Lauri Borer into going and we had a great time exploring, painting, photographing and laughing.

It is a challenge to get out and do plein air work….the light changes quickly, there are bugs and nettles, there is wind and not all desired painting points are a “drive to.”  One morning we headed out and after not finding something that we wanted to paint at the suggested spot, came upon this hidden rhodie farm and 10 acres of gardens hidden away.  We hiked around the property which was beautiful and each settled on a spot to paint.  Later a few other artists found this spot as well.The rhodies were not blooming this time of year, but the other plants were providing the show.

We  visited the sites at the state parks and the reserves of Ebey’s Landing, the farms, the light house at Fort Casey, the towns of Coupeville, Langley and Oak Harbor.

Deception Pass points of interest were there to be painted – and we trekked out there early one morning only to be met with chilly winds so we elected to drive to Anacortes and down to Mount Vernon and introduce Laurie to Dakota Art Pastels Store.  After lugging around a full size French easel, I took the opportunity to buy a new easel for plein air work and that would lighten the load of packing  by some 10 pounds, at least.  Unfortunately, we did not stop back at Deception Pass because later we learned the weather moderated and painting was good.  Lesson learned…maybe not go racing out the door too early in the morning – OR – wait a bit at the destination – the weather might change!

    One other morning we woke to fog coming in from the west and it gently settled into one of the valleys near the Keystone Ferry…but not for long!        

It was great to spend time to get to know some fellow artists better and to watch their demos and learn how some make their own pastels, about an intense workshop for artists in NM, how they do an abstract composition and more.

It was a best of times with tons of photos and memories.  Do a paint out sometime if the opportunity comes your way…tips…pack light, make sure  you have bug spray, sun screen, attire for cool and hot conditions, condensed supplies, camera, water and a good buddy to share with!  happy painting…


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