This month was full of mostly pleasant surprises, but there were some hurdles which kind of blocked my creative energy. Most of my plein and landscapes and pet portraits were accepted to many juried pastel society shows. Actually, actually my works were accepted in 11 juried pastel shows this year, totally 13 works. Some of them were landscapes but others were florals, floral still life and pet portraitsI was very happy that these works were featured online with other talented pastellists from US states. You can check online some of them at https://www.midatlanticpastelsociety.com/annual-members-judged-exhibit-2020.html and youtube video of New Hampshire pastel society juried competition
Morning fog, pastel on Uart 400 paper, 16x20 in. Plein air. I got really wet when painting this work. I was standing by the side of the road under the roof of the car trunk which kept me dry for a while but still it was not enough. So I spent about 1.5 hours on this and later finished in the studio. For those of you who are not scared to paint this way it is great to have a table easel which can be easily set up inside the tunk. You can additionally use a Best brella umbrella to keep you from the rain. You can buy one at http://betterbrella.com. The painting was accepted to South Florida pastel society and Connecticut pastel society juried shows.
This is one of the pet portraits I did from my own reference photos of a stray cat I managed to take a shot of. She is very untamed and i just used to feed her once in a while. I kep the palette very simple and used mostly neutral colors when painting her face, orche, grays and bits of blues. But I added a colorful background, warm pink and sky blue which makes the portrait lively and fresh. I also used a combined tehcnique of expressive strokes and "lost edges" which helps the portrait to blend in the background better. Pastel on Uart 400, 12x12 in. The painting was selected by a Master Pastellist and teacher Richard McKinley, whose workshop I took in 2015.
This is a pastel portrait I did after my beautiful kitty passed away. She was a cat living outdoors in our backyard because my husband is allergic to cats. She used to sleep in a chair on the porch and greet me outside my window when I opened it in the morning. I love the backlit composition, which helped me to go for stronger contrasts and bolder colors, especially in the sunlit parts of her fur and ear. Pastel on Uart paper, 12x12 in. The painting won an Honorable mention in Midatlantic pastel society juried show.
I was driving aimlessly seeking for new places last spring around my house in Virginia and was lucky to come across really tall and abundant bushes of wisteria. It was a warm sunny afternoon which made a perfect contrast between the shaded parts of the bushes and sunlit parts of the flowers and the road. I did most of the pastel on site paying lots of attention to the values and colors of the blooms. I touched up the distant trees in the studio. Pastel on Uart 400 pastel paper, 16x20 in. The work was chosen by Richard McKinley for the Midamerica pastel society juried show.
This is a dog portrait I did from my own reference photo with very loose strokes and bold colors of the background. For the face I used lots of neutral colors like ochre and warm gray, creme white, umber, but incorporated violets and blues from the background, which created a color harmony I aimed to achieve. The painting was chosen for the juried show of New Hampshire pastel society by a master pastellist Mike Beeman. Pastel on Pastelmat pastel paper, 16x12 in.
These are two floral paintings I created plein air earlier during the summer showing my rose garden. The first one is 24x18 in, pastels of uart black paper. I was working alla prima placing colors in short strokes creating a strong contrast between the shaded and sunlite parts of the flowers and leaves. I added the sky and sky holes later working around the bushes using negative space, which is a great technoque in this case. The second pastel shows a very abundant white rose bush and "Encore" azalea which I grew myself too. The movement of the rose branches and placement of azaleas create a certain movement along the " O "composition (see the "Outdoor composition" by Edgar Payne). 16X20in, pastel on UART 400 paper.
I also worked with oils this month. We were very happy to have a month of warm and sunny weather in Virginia. It was so warm that lady bugs circled around me and my easel any time I was outside. And they are not as harmless as they seem - they bite like flies. Nevertheless I managed to start and complete several paintings, mostly in the Blue ridge mountains, which are so full of vibrant colors right now. I decided to stay away from dark values and switch to the lighter ones, especially when depicting the grass, flowers, distant trees and moutains.
This is the painting of the field with some bluish flowers and reddish grass, oil, 20x20 in. Plein air. It is a high chroma painting. The main colors of masses are light red, light yellow/green and blue/violet of the mountains. All colors are in fact analogous colors, which are close to each other in the colors wheel – reds, oranges and yellows. I don't use them from the tube, but mix not more that two of them plus white. For the red of the grass I mixed cad red light (or vermillion), white and cad yellow deep. For the blues in the flowers I went for ultramarine blue, light cad violet and white. The same for the distant mountains, but more blue. For the grass in the foreground and the tree – cad yellow light ( really light), sky blue (like cerullean, but very light in value) – you can find these colors in "Charvin" oils at http://jerrysartarama.com. I use mostly Charvine colors, 150 ml tubes.They have a wide range of light pinks, violets, blues, etc, which can save you white and help you to mix medium and light value colors faster. Keep in mind that I painted the darks of the foreground really dark to create a good contrast with the sunlit grass. I went for a mixture of mauve or warm dark reddish violet (you can also try purple lake, mauve of Gamblin and Lukas oil colors); also burnt umber and paynes gray (which is in fact dark blue).Paynes gray is a great color to mix with if you want to achieve neutral dark colors. Other blues are more saturated. Another option is Indigo. You can mix Paynes gray with any kind of yellow to get dark greens and reds to make your own violets.
Personally I love dark and medium trasparent reds and violets like Alizarin crimson, Mauve, Purple lake, Purple madder, Magenta, Quincidrone Magenta, Quincidrone Red, ThioViolet, Thio Red Rose (by Gamblin). They mix really well with transparent blues like Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Phtalo Blue to create all shades of violets; yellows like burnt sienna, burnt umber, indian yellow, other transparent yellows, like yellow or orange oxide to create oranges and browns. Just remember that the mixing of dark transparent primary colors and white may create beautiful mixtures of secondary colors – green, orange and violet. Transparent colors are very strong and allow to mix more saturated colors. The are good for mixing darks. Opaque colors (ochres, cerulean, all red, blue and yellow cadmiums) are weaker and are good for mixing medium value and light value colors, less saturated (plus white, of course). For mixing really light values Aurellion, cad yellow light, cad lemon, naples yellow, light pink and other light value colors may be used. Again look up Charvin and Gamblin colors. Holbein has some great light value colors but expensive. I will start a series a demos on how to mix transparent and opaque colors taking into consideartion their temperature and saturation.
Here is another exple of light value of fall colors I used in the distance trees along the Blue ridge parkway in Virginia. Oil, 20x16 in. Plein air and studio.
Look at the values at the following gray image. They are very close. The colors range is 1-4. The darkest dark is in the right low corner. The value of the sky, light on the distant trees, light on the road is the same. Using lighter values in a painting helps to make a scene more romantic and gentle.
I also want to inform you that I am planning to give a pastel workshop via Zoom, which will concentrate on the painting of hydrangeas. I have done a series of hydrangeas paintings this summer which you can see at my Instagram account at http://instagram.com/julia_lesnichy and my new website http://julialesnichy.com. I will show a palette I use for painting the flowers. It will be approximately an hour and a half demo. I have enough reference photos of the flowers for students to paint from. After a short 15 min break students will work on their own projects. The fee is $70 for 3-4 hours. If interested please contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org. The payment can be made using my Paypal http://paypal.me/JuliaLesnichy. The date is November 28, 2020. 1 p.m. Eastern Time/New York Time.