Category Archives: walla walla pastel artist

Pastel Dust in Winter


It can be a gloomy time in the Northwest during early months of the year with fog often shrouding the landscape. So when there is a day of sunshine, I am out there soaking it in. But…don’t ignore the opportunity to paint weather….here’s my story…last Wednesday when I left my house it was overcast, not too cold and I thought about the fact that there was still no snow. The park’s grass was still green and created an interesting contrast of the grays around it. By the time I had driven the block from my house to the. Ross street, it had started to snow huge flakes. The air was filled with snow and I stopped to take a couple of photos. In a matter of a couple of minutes, the snow had nearly covered the green blanket of grass. This was a snow storm! I made my way downtown and stopped to take a few photos in some of the neighborhoods along the way. It continued to snow heavily and the transformation of the gray gloom to white was beautiful One stop was at First and Main where I snapped a photo with my phone of the Beehive Building, Starbucks and other buildings along the south side of Main….I noticed the car tracks in the snow created some great contrasty patterns and the snow flakes and light fogginess created some great atmosphere…I knew at some point I would paint this…Later…

Using bold strokes with the side of the pastels I created a cityscape of the First and Main intersection and the buildings lining the street complete with snow flakes. I used my image on my cell phone as a reference and created a nice impression of Snow Day! So my message is…always be looking for an opportunity to paint…always have your camera, phone w/camera with you to record a reference shot…don’t wait for a sunny day to paint…and take a risk sometimes at what you paint! Snow Day – First and Main sold the same day it was painted.

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Pastel Dust in Landscape


No b lack Sheep in this Family

What makes a painting happen?  In my world it starts with something that triggers my interest.  Painting happens nearly every day…at least some sort of sketching or drawing if not a painting.  If I am the passenger on a car trip, I might be sketching.  I have my iPhone or camera handy also when driving to record – not a specific scene to paint, but a chance to shoot a reference photo of something for a future painting…I am always looking…

So Saturday I had to deliver some work to Vintage Vine in Roslyn for the next show that opens the first part of July.  I decided to make a day of it and spend it scouting around the Cle Elum and Roslyn area for painting spots for the upcoming Fresh Air Festival paint out event July 14-20.  I have the opportunity to teach a workshop in pastel (July 17-19) and also do a demo (Monday July 16) as part of the event, so finding some good spots to take artists to paint and also spots for my own work was on my list of things to do.  We drove the streets and backroads and found some good spots with a variety of scene.  I shot a lot of images and enjoyed watching the weather change from bright and sunny to a dark clouded rain storm.  But  – leaving home early, about 630 a.m., driving the Walla Walla valley had the most impact on my eyes…and it reminded me why it is so worthwhile to get up early and go out and paint.  The trees that follow the river and the fields next to them planted with wheat or peas or potatoes or onions were cool greens of various values and the early sun cast a soft light on the terrain.  The distant hills were a soft lavender, a bit hazy in the early morning.  There were many opportunities for a great, tonal painting in the peacefulness that presented in the landscape.  I shot some photos, but none render the actual beauty seen with the human eye…it’s why we paint en plein air!  So paint when you can from life…it makes a difference!


Pastel dust in January…Resolutions


Happy New  Year!

A group of artists in SE WA proposed daily painting for the first month of the new year.  I’m in, I declared.  I will paint each day…maybe not a painting a day, but just painting or doing some form of art each day for the month.  So far I am on track.

A friend of mine made a New Year resolution to do 54 new things this  year…one something new each week.  that’s a good one, I think…a goal to keep one thinking and being challenged.  I’m in.   I don’t have a list of new things to do already made  up, but will work on that. Week one…maybe testing a new dining spot.  I do have some things I want to do and one is print making without the printing press…more on that later.   Maybe I will post my list…part of it perhaps…

I have a couple of pastel paintings in the works as well as a couple of oils.  I love the way oils work – and I used to paint always in oil – but it is a challenge after  being immersed in pastel dust for so long.  A challenge, yes.  I have made the commitment to show work at the Western Masters Art Show in March in Great Falls, MT and I want to have both oil and pastel work available.  It will happen.  Persevere!  This will be an interesting event.  It is March 14-17 with a live auction and two Quick Finish Draws as well as each artist had a room in which to show your art and work…hotel rooms, stripped of the usual furnishings.  It all happens at the Heritage Inn in Great Falls.  So if you are in the area…we are in Room 151.  “Forgotten” was the chosen piece for the live auction.

I am excited to take part in the Western Masters Show…(that’s a new thing for March 🙂 by the way!)  So, I am incorporating some more western theme into my landscapes…cows, deer, antelope, etc.   I just finished a couple of pastels and two oils with cows in art.  I think it works.                                            

I hope you artists take the challenge and try new things; maybe not 54…but try something new and explore new options with products and techniques.  It keeps us fresh!  Happy painting…


Pastel Dust on the Road 3…


Moab…this is such a beautiful place.  From the moment I drove down into the Colorado River valley that holds this town I was in awe of the overwhelming beauty.  Extreme describes it….cliffs in reds and yellows, intense skies something different to look at all around you .                                                                                                                     .            I went to Moab to participate in the Plein Air Moab painting event Oct 7-15. The event includes 3 quick draw sessions, a main competition, a paint out, receptions and more.  The Moab Art and Rec Center (MARC) is hosting their 2nd plein air.  The team that organized this were incredible.  Everything; every event ran like clock work.  One day the quick draw was at the Castle Valley Winery where we painted on their property and submitted it to the show and sale.    for 3 hours, we painted  ,then framed.  Two more quick draws on other days happened downtown Moab with same rules and events.  The final event was the main competition – a painting of the artist’s choice that they had completed during the time in Moab.  Other paintings could be displayed for sale at the MARC as well…but only one entered into the competition.  Friday night we entered the MARC to one room filled with the artists’ best work.  Many had signs on them “Award Winning Painting”.  I looked for mine and it was included in that catagory!   That’s the icing on the cake!

During the paint out, several pieces of art sold which wonderful – since that is the ultimate goal!  But it is also equally important to develop new friendships and learn new things from fellow artists, judges, etc.

And there is taking some risks in our work, try new techniques and see as much of the area and photograph as much as  you can for future reference.  I had shied away from driving the LaSal Loop which is a road that takes you south of Moab, then westerly over some mountain passes, down into the Castle Valley and back to Moab via Hwy 128.    The first while I was in Moab, the weather was cold and stormy with snow on the mountains, so that detered my thoughts of doing this drive in the mighty Prius.  However with warm weather for several days, the snow had all but disappeared so I decided that I would drive at least part way up the pass to get  some views of colorful fall leaves and different terrain.  I soon found that it the road was really steep and narrow and I wasn’t comfortable trying to turn around on the narrow roads and minimal turn-outs…so I kept driving over the passes, a little timidly on the ascents and descents with switchbacks at a max of 10 mph.  It was beautiful and when one was atop each of the passes, the view below was incredible.  I admit that when I saw the familiar terrain of the Castle Valley, I breathed a sigh of relief!  Once I got down into the valley, I decided I would paint one more work so elected to paint a scene near Onion Creek…a stream that barely runs water when the weather is dry…but is one that carries water that is poisonous leeched with selenium, arsnic and saline.  The creek bed has no vegetation and it is strangely quiet with no birds in the immediate area.

Saturday came with the realization that the stay in Moab was coming to an end.  Work was to be picked up at the MARC at 6 that evening.  In the morning I stopped in to listen to the judged talk about the work selected for awards and decided that I would go somewhere and paint one more session.  Sandi who organized the event came up to me and asked what I was doing for the day.  I told her and she asked if she could go with.  Happily I invited her and we drove up Kane Creek beyond where one leaves the Colorado and heads up another canyon.  We painted and visited for about 2 hours.  It was the perfect way to end a great 10 day visit to this spot.

Sunday morning I was ready to head out for points south into New Mexico.  I stopped at the little cafe that sells great Moab coffee, grabbed a 16 oz cup, bid farefwell to the MARC and headed down 191 to southerly  points….

happy painting….


Pastel Dust on the Road…


              Last  Wednesday I embarked on a journey to painting and drawing in various areas.  First stop was the plein air event “Plein Air Palouse” in Moscow, ID.  For 3 days 25 painters spent time out and about in the heart of the Palouse painting rural and urban scenes in and around Moscow.  This was the 2nd plein air event for Moscow and they are an enthusiastic, warm, welcoming group.  Thursday  I drove north of Moscow toward Potlatch looking for my landscape representational of the Palouse.  Driving down Walker Road, I found it.  At the top a hill was an ideal plein air painting spot…a nice place to pull over, some stacked old bales of hay and a view looking north of fields, hills, barns and timber that is characteristic of the Palouse.  I pulled over and  painted a 12×16 of a view finders cropped field of view of the valley.  About 3 hours later, I am satisfied with the result.  I snapped several photos of the area for future paintings and headed back to Moscow, happy with the painting    expedition!                                       Friday morning I decided to paint urban and wanted to paint some historic building.  Like many small towns, Moscow has a Carnegie Library with unique architecture and style.  And the beautiful thing is, when they decided they needed more space, they didn’t  destroy the original building, they added onto it but kept the itegrity of the original building.  So this sort of Tuscan style building sits on the corner of Jefferson and 2nd in all is originial glory.  I paint it.  While I am there painting in the shade and solitude of the Library, the reporter and photographer from the Daily News come by and spend 20-30 minutes visiting and taking photos of me painting.  Saturday morning  one of the photos and a really good article about the plein air event and me graced the front page and more of the paper.                                                                                                                                                                                                     Late Friday I drove up to the U of I campus and parked in a parking area currently abandoned, but with a great view of the  U of I farm.  There are a series of beautiful, well maintained barns and I wanted to paint them in the evening light.  I did a 9×12 of the large barn and horses under a coral tinged sky.  I was pretty happy with the results, put it in a frame and forgot to photograph it.

Saturday was spent at the Farmer’s Market downtown.  I did a bunch of sketching and photos.  Great people watching!  In the afternoon all the paintings were delivered to City Hall to hang in their gallery complete with reception.  It was a great time and lots of discussion ensued regarding the event and how to improve it.  The enthusiasm of the group is one thing that needs no improvement.  They are gracious hosts and willing to help the artists as they could.  Kudos to Kathleen and DJ.  The best thing was meeting several new artists and visiting with them about our works.

So this was the first stop on my art quest journey.  I leave Moscow Sunday and head south to UT with a couple of stops along the way…More photos of my journey will be posted on Facebook


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…             


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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