Many thanks to Jan Norsetter and John Ribble who both did great painting demos on Saturday. We had a great turnout despite the cloudy conditions with reasonably comfortable seating in the nice shelter at the park. Also thanks to Carolyn White and the Friends of Stewart Lake Park who hosted our group and provided some great donuts. She said that 40 to 50 observers stopped by that morning including about a dozen high school art society students. Several of our painters also came and did some plein air painting so hopefully they will post some of their work, too.
Jan did an oil painting demo of the lake that morning and also brought a lovely small study of the lake she had painted previously. I was sorry not to get there in time to see her demo but I heard it was excellent as always! Jan can make an interesting painting even on a gloomy morning like we had.
The pastel demo that followed was done by John Ribble, www.johnribble.com/ a Madison artist and teacher who works exclusively en plein air and usually with a huge selection of soft pastels. He brought a large selection of pastels made up of all the best brands: Terry Ludwig, Unison, Sennelier and Schmincke. He had a set of greys made by Great American that he said were his go to box for light greys in the landscape. He also had the full set of Terry Ludwig Greens and Intense Darks which are beautiful and really helpful in our Wisconsin landscape. His preferred paper is Art Spectrum Colorfix paper that he gets mounted on board exclusively by Dakota Art Pastels which I totally agree is the most specialized pastel retailer in the country. After giving us a quick history of pastel and plein air painting John got to work on a fairly large (12x16) Colorfix board in Terra Cotto and rich mid to dark red/brown color. I was interested to see how he grids his paper first to help with accuracy when sketching his drawing on the paper. He had many interesting tips for us and stressed that plein air painting was all about the light and that even is cloudy days when the light was diffuse it was still the most important influence on both value and color. I really liked seeing what a great tool a straight-edged razor blade can be for taking off unwanted layers of pastel or scratching out the thin lines needed for tree limbs.
I shared a handout about pastels supplies for plein air painting and brought my smallest plein air pastel box, the Heilman Double Sketchbox which weighs only 2 lbs when fully packed with as many partial sticks as I can get in it. Taking a small box like this is the other end of the spectrum from John's kitchen sink supply of pastels but it is much more portable so I can go hiking and paint just about anywhere. The down side is I have many fewer colors to work with so I pick the colors that I am relatively sure I will need for wherever I intend to paint and I probably use about the same amount of colors per painting as John does but I often have to make due with a color that is not just what I want but is similar and the right value. It also takes considerable time to choose the colors I think I'll need but no time to set up and pack up. So it is a trade off and there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. I also brought some paper samples. Currently Pastelmat is my favorite paper; it is not gritty like sanded papers such as Colorfix but it holds a lot of pastel and can take wet underpaintings with water, alcohol or solvents. I prefer alcohol which is cheap and dries fast outdoors. I also brought the 6x9 painting below to demonstrate that you can paint small outdoors as well as large as John likes to do. The larger the painting the better painter you need to be and that is NOT a problem for John who paints wonderful quite large pastels outdoors.
Thanks to everyone who came and participated. Stewart Lake County Park is a great place for plein air painting!!
|Autumn Afternoon at Stewart Lake|
|Heilman Pastel Double Sketchbook and Backpack size|