Friday, 23 July 2010

Plein Air Pastel Painting with Richard McKinley

Pastel artist Richard McKinley has a number of blog posts on Pastel Pointers with Richard McKinley about  creating landscapes and plein air painting with pastels.  He's particularly strong at looking at the place where he's painting and techniques for translating this into a pleasing work of art.

Richard recently created a series of posts with very useful tips.  These are especially helpful for pastel artists working plein air - but anybody working plein air will find value in a lot of what he has to say.
Using pastel en plein air has its advantages. The instant gratification of choosing a pastel stick and applying it to a surface is unparalleled. We simply open the pastel palette, analyze the scene, and make a mark—no mixing, no solvents, and no bag full of wet rags to dispose. The disadvantage is that we need an assortment of pastel hues in a range of values to accomplish what the wet painter can do with four tubes of paint.
  •  Plein Air Tips, Part 2: Sun Vs. Shade which discusses the issues of working in full sunlight or shade and provides some valuable recommendations for kit which helps with dealing with the sun
The painting surface and pastel palette need to be in the same light. Otherwise, pastel choices from the palette will appear completely different on the painting surface, confusing the mind and eye collaboration.
Remind yourself while you are painting that the photo can provide detail information later and your task is to represent what the camera cannot: the human perspective. Spend your time analyzing the value relationships and subtle color sensations.
Here's a selection of a few more of his plein air related posts from his blog:

Places for plein air painters

Kit for plein air painters
Techniques and solutions for plein air painters
A few years ago while I was on a painting trip with legendary pastel plein air artist Glenna Hartmann, the question of how to handle green was posed. After a perfectly timed pause, she quietly responded, “I avoid it at all cost.” The ensuing discussion was very interesting. It seemed that every painter there had an issue with green.
  • Pastel Dry Underpainting - about how to tackle an underpainting when working plein air and all you have to hand are your pastels
While subject matter may be important to the concept, the process of painting is really nothing more than shapes, edges, values and colors, arranged in a pleasing design. 

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