IMPROMPTU

On view at: eclipsegalleryonline.com

Six Artists Work in the Time of Covid-19:  Diane Sawyer, Dawn Nelson, Linda O’Brien, Opie O’Brien, Sarah Sutro, and Betty Vera.

My art has always been a refuge for me in difficult times. But as the pandemic began to take hold, it didn’t feel right to continue with my usual practice. I felt the need to switch things up — get my hands on some new materials and explore. — see where it would take me. I have wanted to expand my practice, to incorporate oils and mixed media for a number of years, but never found enough time to focus on this area.  These days of isolation offered an opportunity — a place of stillness and quiet to explore and learn new skills.

Dreams Deferred
Dreams Deferred, diptych, each 23.5 x 11″, oil and cold wax on Shuji paper

As I began experimenting with new media, I gave myself permission to work more boldly and physically, letting go of my ever-critical editorial mind.

As I began working with oil and cold wax I became immersed in the process: layering and scraping back, experimenting with texture and color, and reworking until something begins to emerge. Responding to what I see, I go where the painting leads me.

I had my days of being stuck, too depressed or distracted to work. Like many of us I was often preoccupied by the cascade of feelings triggered by the multiple tragedies of the pandemic — suffering and loss, destabilization in this country and the world, economic collapse, and fury and grief triggered by racial injustice.

American Legacy, 17 x 14″, oil and cold wax on Arches Oil Paper

But I’ve also found space to recognize and nurture new ideas. It has been liberating to be out of my comfort zone, and exciting to experiment with new ways of working. The process of painting abstractly and intuitively leaves me room to notice how much of my internal experience is surfacing in these new pieces.

The images above are a sampling of my work included in IMPROMPTU. Do these new pieces speak to you? I welcome your feedback and comments.

To see more, and the work of the other 5 artists, visit: eclipsegalleryonline.com

How High is the Sky?

I am very excited and honored to report that my work is featured in the December 2018 issue of Pastel Journal!!

Pastel Journal, December 2018

The 10 page article, “As Above, So Below,” focuses on a series of paintings I have been working for the past few years—aerial images of the earth based on the view from the window of a passenger plane. In this series I have been exploring the way the world from this perspective is familiar but startlingly different. When seen from the air at night, whole cities flatten into patterns of light. At dawn, we see the sun rising over the curve of the earth illuminating the landscape below. We fly over mountains and valleys scored with the marks of glaciers, and rivers poisoned by centuries of industrial pollution and human habitation.

I find working on these pieces is kind of magical. A few strokes are enough to suggest the vast landscape below. I like keeping my marks a bit ambiguous as it leaves room for the viewer to imagine for themselves what they are seeing.

I am attracted to both what is revealed in these images, and that which remains hidden. My goal is to offer the viewer an invitation to explore the space between what we know and imagine.

A big thank you to the editors at Pastel Journal for featuring my work!! To purchase a discounted copy of the December issue of Pastel Journal  click here.

Please leave me your comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this recent work.

Exhibitions and Openings

The painting on the opening spread of the article, “Late Night Departure” received the Pastel Society of America Award in October at Renaissance in Pastel, the Connecticut Pastel Society’s annual national juried show. “ElectriCity”, another painting from this series, was also awarded a prize at Pastel Society of Cape Cod’s national juried show For Pastels Only in June.

Opening this weekend! If you’re in the Boston area, five of my aerial “mini’s” are currently showing at Francesca Anderson Fine Art in Lexington as part of her 34th Annual Miniatures Show, November 14-January 12th. You are invited to the opening and holiday party December 1, 3-5pm. 56 Adams St., Lexington, MA. The show is filled with unique and beautiful works perfect for giving.

New Beginnings

The end of the summer marked a big transition for me, moving from our home of 28 years near Boston MA to our new home in North Adams, MA, about as far west and north as you can go and still be in Massachusetts. This fall has been a time of change and new beginnings.

Our new home is in a centuries old mill that was converted to artist Iive-work space in 2006. We share the building with visual artists, musicians and writers. In the stairwells, the railings and steps are worn and polished by the passing of generations of textile workers. Layers of paint still clinging to the old brick seem to echo the dappled pattern of the fall leaves outside our windows.

Our loft is beautiful, but still a work in progress. There is still much to be done to balance its two purposes:  to be a home, and a working studio. But this gentle space, filled with light, promises to be a snug and nurturing sanctuary full of possibilities. I will post more photos after we get settled in.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season. I hope your days and nights are bright with discoveries and new opportunities.

Making Our Mark at the Sprinkler Factory April 7-29th

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ElectiCITY, 18×24 pastel on a prepared surface

 

I am honored to have been part of MAKING OUR MARK, a six-person show at the Sprinkler Factory this April. The show has been very well received, with a smashing opening, complete with hundreds of visitors, live music, and surprise appearances by friends and relations.

Its been a great pleasure exhibiting with fellow artists Dave Kaphammer, Janet Schwartz, Cindy Crimmin, Maryann Mullet and Catherine Meeks. While we share many of the same materials, each artist’s use of color, form, and mark-making is uniquely their own. Its made for a strong show, rich in contrast and connection.

The piece above, ElectriCITY,  is part of my exploration of the earth as seen from above. Once the moon and the sun are gone what we see of the earth is defined by what is illuminated—by streetlights, traffic, buildings, and industry. As I delve further into this series I have become more and more interested in the tension between what we see—that which is illuminated—and what is invisible in the shadows. This theme resonates for me on many levels. I look forward to exploring it further.

Last chance to see the show is this weekend— come to the closing party Sunday April 29, 1-4 pm at the Sprinkler Factory, 82 Harlow St, Worcester. Hope to see you there!

Don’t Miss October’s Pastel Journal

My painting, Making the Final Approach is featured in the October issue of Pastel Journal.

The article, “Pastel World 2017” covers an exhibition organized by the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS). Anne Hevener, editor of Pastel Journal, focuses on 12 “personal favorites” she selected from 184 exceptional paintings juried into the show. I am so honored to be included in such great company! You can view the article here: PastelWorld 2017

Making the Final Approach has a decidedly unusual point of view. Here’s how I described my process and approach in creating the painting:

“Several years ago, as I was landing at O’Hare Airport, I glanced out the window. We were descending over the outskirts of Chicago at dusk; the plane at a sharp angle to the highways filled with evening commuters below. I quickly grabbed my phone and got a couple of shots just before we hit the runway. When I went to paint from this reference, I wanted to keep the piece loose and abstract, adding just enough detail to allow the viewer to fill in the rest.”

Hevener comments: “The tilt in Sawyer’s unconventional composition adds to the impression of immense space. The painting captures well that odd feeling of detachment you can have in flight when you’re aware of not being earthbound.”

If you would like to see more of this series, I have 2 painting from this series in Pigments at South Shore Art Center, and one at Renaissance in Pastel, sponsored by CPS in Vernon CT. Dates and times listed in Upcoming Shows.

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Making the Final Approach, 36×24

Spring News from Diane Sawyer Fine Art

After a cold winter and rainy early spring the trees are bursting out green, flowers are blooming, and spring shows are everywhere. After hunkering down in my studio all winter its been a real pleasure to see the work up, celebrate, and get outside to drink in the warm weather.

I hope you can make it to one of the shows below. I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones! Exhibition highlights of my spring season include:

FOUR ARTISTS, FOUR VISIONS

Closing Party— this Sunday May 7th, from 1–4pm

Sprinkler Factory Artist Group
38 Harlow Street, Worcester, MA

As always, I really enjoyed exhibiting with fellow artists Dave Kaphammer, Janet Schwartz, and Renée Caouette. We are celebrating our second group show in 2 years, and are already looking forward to next years show next April at the Sprinkler Factory.

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Surfacing, pastel, 24 x 13

 

Featured Artist

May 1–July 30 2017

Opening May 17th, 6–8pm

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 60 Adams Street, Milton MA 02186

Sunflower, 12x18
Sunflower, 12×18

 

For Pastels Only

Opening Reception, June 24, 6–9pm
June 20–July 17, 2017

Cape Cod Cultural Association
307 Old Main Street,
South Yarmouth, MA

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Clearing, pastel, 18×24

ARTS FESTIVAL

June 16–18, 2017
Opening: June 16, 1–7pm

South Shore Arts Center
119 Ripley Road, Cohasset MA, 02025

International Society of Pastel (IAPS)
30th JURIED EXHIBITION

June 6 – June 11, 2017

Hotel Albuquerque, Albuquerque New Mexico

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Making the Final Approach, 36×24

Other recent shows include:

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Summer in a Jar, 9×12

For the Love of Color, at the Cape Cod Art Museum

March 16th – May 1st, 2017

This show featured Signature Members of PPSCC, the premiere Massachusetts pastel association. Truly an honor to be included in this group, at the wonderful Cape Cod Art Museum in Dennis MA.

Milton Art Center’s 2nd Annual Juried Exhibition

March 24th– May 20, 2017

It was my pleasure to be the Coordinator of this diverse and exciting show at the Milton Art Center (MAC), featuring the work of more than 40 artists. It was great working with juror Brian Goslow of Artscope Magazine, and meeting so many talented artists from all over the region.

Finally, I am looking forward to a trip by bike and train through France this summer. I’m planning on doing a lot of sketching, gathering new inspiration to carry me through next fall and winter.

 

Happy Painting!!

Diane

 

 

Holiday Wishes

brookwood_card

In the midst of this winter, so filled with uncertainty and doubt, remember…

the earth has already begun its shift away from darkness

and back towards the light, offering us its ancient lesson of renewal.

Embrace. Share. Create. Give. Love.

Warm wishes for a wonderful holiday season filled with family,

friends, laughter, and moments of joy and solitude!

Diane Sawyer

Image: Brookwood Community Farm, Blue Hills Reservation, Milton MA

DIVE IN. The water’s fine!

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My new work on view Dolphin Gallery in Hingham from July 29-September 29th celebrates the beauty and delight of summer in New England.

At the beach or on the water, colors have a special vibrancy in the intense summer sun. The golden light at dawn and dusk is breathtaking. The reflective quality of the water’s surface as it continuously shifts, mirroring the sky and objects around it, is mesmerizing. I have always been fascinated by this interaction of light and atmosphere, and the rich spectrum of color present in the landscape.

In this show I also explore our powerful connection to water, whether in the ocean, a lake, or river. We are all mostly water after all, and our relationship to it is both deeply physical and spiritual.

The show’s title DIVE IN has a special significance for me, as this solo show has afforded me the opportunity to really “dive in” to my work, exploring not only landscape but also our place  within it.  I’ve learned so much, but am also just beginning to break the surface and to see where this new work might take me.

My heartfelt thanks to North River Arts Society for giving me this opportunity by sponsoring and facilitating this show. Thanks also to the Hingham Library for sharing their beautiful gallery.

So come, see the show, and immerse yourself in the joys of summer!

DIVE IN: New Works in Pastel by Diane Reed Sawyer

Sponsored by North River Arts Society
at the Dolphin Gallery, Hingham Library
66 Levitt Street, Hingham , MA

July 30-September 29, 2016
Opening August 8th, 2016 5:30-7:30pm

 

Early Summer Shows and Awards

Juried Shows

I am very pleased to have been included in 2 juried pastel society shows, and one online competition this past June and July.

Connecticut Pastel Society’s members show Purely Pastels opened June 17th, at Lyme Art Association’s Goodman Gallery, in Lyme CT. My piece, Crown Jewel, won the Bronze Award for Excellence. I am very honored to receive this award, one of the top awards in an extensive list!  I am also pleased to report that the piece sold on the second day of the exhibit!

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Crown Jewel, 10×14

 

Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod’s annual show For Pastels Only on Cape Cod opened Saturday June 18th  at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, in South Yarmouth, MA.  This is the 5th consecutive year I have been included in this wonderful national show.

Dive In (Study), below, was included in the exhibit.

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Dive In, 10×6 (study)

2016 UArt Online Competition

My piece Safe Harbor was juried into the 2016 UArt Online Competition. Almost 600 pieces were submitted to this show, and only 100 were accepted. It is a fabulous collection of work, by an amazing collection of artists.  I was honored to be included! You can see the exhibit at: http://uartpastelpaper.com/uart-2016-online-pastel-show-accepted-pieces/

[I was very very honored to win first place in this competition last year. Congratulations to this year’s winners.]

My piece Incoming tide, shown at the Milton Art Center’s show Celebrate Summer, received the People’s Choice Award. Thanks everyone for your votes!!!

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Incoming Tide, 14×14

Ongoing:

I am very excited to announce that as a gallery artist my pastels are on view at True Grit Gallery, a beautiful new gallery at 38 Center Street, Middleborough, MA. I am in great company, its definitely worth a trip.

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Renaissance in Pastel 2015

 

The Connecticut Pastel Society’s 2015 Renaissance in Pastel national juried exhibition is being held at the UConn Stamford Art Gallery, One University Place, Stamford, Connecticut. The exhibit is open to the public November 9 through December 12, 2015. Admission is free.

The annual Renaissance in Pastel exhibit attracts notable pastel artists from all over the country. More than $10,000 in prizes are  awarded for outstanding new work. Art work has been selected by a jury of artists of national prominence.

Awards jurors are Christina Debarry, Past President of the Pastel Society of America, and Deborah Quinn Munson, a signature member of the Pastel Society of America and a nationally recognized pastelist.

The show includes work by artist, Diane Sawyer, of Milton, Massachusetts. Diane’s painting “Lit” won the prestigious Judith Walo Memorial Award. 

Diane will be one of two award jurors for the Connecticut Pastel Society’s 2016 Renaissance in Pastel Exhibition.

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Lit, 18×24, pastel on UArt

 

 

 

For Pastels Only Show, 2015

aftertherain-webI am pleased and honored to be included in the prestigious For Pastels Only, (FPO) Show on Cape Cod, sponsored by the Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod. The show will run from June 20th-July 12th at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, 307 Old Main Street, South Yarmouth, MA. The opening is Saturday, June 20th from 6-8:30pm. If you are on the cape this summer, you should stop by. It’s a wonderful show featuring work from 100 panelists.

I am also excited about the particular painting that was chosen from the 3 I submitted to the show. “After the Rain” is a bit of a departure for me, as it is painted in pastels over an oil underpainting. I was inspired to try this after watching Michele Poirier Mozzone’s demonstration at the closing of FPO last year. Much of the oil underpainting is showing through, and I loved the way the loose strokes worked with the layered pigment. When I saw her demo, I had just returned from France, where I visited Monet’s water garden in Giverney. The resulting painting is on the cover of my site.

Last weekend I had the pleasure to take a workshop with Michele, and I can’t wait to do more painting using this technique.

Happy Painting!

Explore Plein Air Painting this Summer

Painting at Houghton's Pond
Painting at Houghton’s Pond

I am offering a five week plein air workshop this summer through the Milton Art Center. This is a great opportunity to try your hand at something new, or sharpen up your skills if you haven’t painted in a while. Work in pastel, or a media of your choice.

Painting outside is such a pleasure, but it can be intimidating too. So much detail, where do you start? Learn strategies to simplify your subject, create a strong composition with a thumbnail sketch, use color and value, and produce a painting that captures the essence of a scene, without TMI (too much information).

5 week class

Thursday mornings 9:30-11:30am

June 25, introductions and orientation at the MAC,  334 Edge Hill Rd, Milton, MA 02186

July 2, 9, 16, 23, plein air painting in and around Milton

Open to Adults and High School students

Media: Soft pastel, or other media of your choice. All levels are welcome. Some drawing experience is helpful.

Our first meeting will be held Thursday June 25, 9:30-11:30 at the Milton Art Center, to go over supplies and basic techniques, and how to set up to work outside. The following 4 weeks we will meet at various locations around Milton including Houghton’s Pond, the Eustis Estate, and the banks of the Neponset.

I will start most classes with a demo and will spend time with each student offering tips and suggestions.

A supply list will be emailed before the first class, and be discussed at the first meeting. You will also need some form of portable easel. Some pastels and paper will be provided by the art center.

Diane Sawyer is a fine artist working primarily with pastels. She lives in Milton, and has a BFA from the Boston Museum School.
To learn more: www.dianesawyerfineart.com

Cost: $135

To register, email Diane@sawyerdesign.net.  Online registration will be available at www.miltonartcenter.org in May.

Pilgrimage to Giverny

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Monet in his studio, working on the paintings that would line the galleries of l’Orangerie Museum in Paris.

Water lilies and reflections are one of my favorite subjects to paint. With three days in Paris this past July at the end of a painting trip in France, my top priority was a day trip to Giverny to visit Monet’s home and gardens, especially his water garden.

As a child I sat mesmerized before Monet’s paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery in DC, and later at the Met and MOMA in New York. But the first time I visited l’Orangerie in Paris, surrounded on all sides by the magnificent murals that Monet created in the last years of his life, I felt that I was actually sitting at the side of the artist by his beautiful lagoon.

This time in Paris I hoped to visit the Louvre, the Orsay, the Musee Marmotan, and perhaps the Rodin Museum! Or at least as many of those places as I could. But I arrived at the Louvre to find the square FULL of people. It was the first Sunday of the month, and the museums were free. The place was mobbed. Same story at the Orsay. So I found myself again at l’Orangerie, and was able to get in with only a half hour wait.

It was wonderful to see these paintings again before my trip to Giverny. Downstairs a show on collector and dealer Paul Guillaume included miniature rooms from his apartment in Paris complete with tiny models of his African art collection! It reminded me of the hours I spent staring into the miniature rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago when as a child, I went to work with my dad! African art inspired and excited Guillaume, and many of the contemporary artists he represented such as Cezanne, Derain, Modigliani. I thought of my dad, who introduced me to the joys of museums, and always supported my exploration of art. He would have been as thrilled as I was to be there.

One of the miniature room s in the Orangerie, showing Paul Gilluame's collection of paintings and African art.
One of the miniature rooms in l’Orangerie, showing Paul Gilluame’s collection of paintings and African art.

When I emerged from the museum it was pouring. Soaked, I considered but gave up on my plans to visit any more museums, deciding that I had absorbed enough art and water for one day.

Mary, one of the other artists on the pastel trip, and I planned to rendezvous in Giverny on Monday. That morning I was at Gare St. Lazare, tickets in hand, waiting to see what platform the train would be on, when it suddenly disappeared from the board. Electrical problems in Rouen caused all the trains to be canceled on that line that day. Mary was staying in Rouen and was stranded as well. Disappointed, I took my pastels and went over to the Jardin des Plantes to do a little plein air painting.

The next day we resolved to try again. The forecast was calling for showers and then steady rain, so I left my pastels at the hotel. Mary is an optimist, so she brought hers along. We met at the station in Vernon, and boarded the bus to Giverny. We got to the gardens around 9:45, and it was already packed with tours. Resolved to see the water garden while the weather held, we leapfrogged the groups, and made our way directly there.

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The top of Monet’s big pink house is just visible above the garden.

Mary and I inched our way around the pond, so happy to be there, taking it all in. The sun actually came out for a while, but mostly the sky was like a giant soft box, perfect for photography. We even cracked out our paints, Mary her pastels, and me a small watercolor kit, and painted for a little while before it started to pour.

Surprisingly, the garden was even more beautiful in the rain! The water lilies opened up along with all the colorful umbrellas. The pattern of rain on the water, the calligraphy of the willow branches in front of the pond!! I felt transported into one of Monet’s paintings, just soaking up the beauty of the place. My shoes were also soaking, unfortunately. But I had my borrowed umbrella from the hotel, and I couldn’t have been happier to be where I was at that moment.

Willow branch caligraphy.
Willow branch calligraphy.

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The lilies opened up in the rain.

The umbrellas add to the color.
The umbrellas add to the color.

The inspiration for my my painting "After the Rain"
The inspiration for my painting, “After the Rain”.

Another miniature room, Monet's studio, for sale in the gift shop.
Another miniature room, Monet’s studio, for sale in the gift shop.

Monet’s house was charming, and a walk though the village gave us glimpses of Giverny as it was in Monet’s time. Mary and I hugged goodbye, both of us so happy to have been able to share the experience with a like-minded traveler.

For Pastels Only in Cape Cod, 2014

Mad River
Mad River, 12 x 18, Pastel on UArt

Sponsored by the Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod, this national juried pastel exhibition was held annually at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod on Old Main Street in South Yarmouth, MA. It includes some of the best pastelists working today.

I have been honored to be included for the past three years. My painting Mad River was chosen to be included this year.

I started this painting on the banks of the Mad River in Vermont, with my easel set up on the rocky bank. Every so often a bit of spray would land at my feet.

I was able to complete the underpainting and block in the painting onsite, and later developed the painting further in my studio. Parts of the original underpainting still show through in the rocks and  river.

 

PPSCC Members Show

 

DRS_Into_the_LightMy Pastel “Into the Light” was included in the 2013 Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod annual members show at the Mashpee Public Library. The Members Show Reception was held Saturday, November 23 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. At 1:00, Margaret Farrell Bruno, PSA and PPSCC Signature Member presented a free Pastel Demonstration “Capturing a Quick Likeness in Pastel.”

Artist Showcase at the MAC

The Barn at Olana
The Barn at Olana

It was a great pleasure to be the featured artist at the Milton Art Center on November 9, 2013 from 12 – 4pm. It was wonderful to see old friends and meet new ones, as people dropped into the art center for the show and demonstration.

I shared some of my recent work, including field studies and finished paintings from Massachusetts, Vermont, Upstate New York, and Vancouver Island.  I also did a demonstration in soft pastel, showing the process I use, from underpainting to finished work.  During the demo I talked about how I use field studies done outside on location as references for final paintings to be done in the studio. I got great comments from the audience, many of whom had not seen the process of building a pastel painting before. It was great fun to share my love of pastels with such a wonderful group.

Diane holding a plein air sketch from Vancouver Island
Diane holding a plein air sketch from Vancouver Island
A wonderful audience!
A wonderful audience!
My ipad is a great tool for reference. here I am explaining compositional choices.
My iPad is a great tool for reference.

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Thanks to Maureen Fahey for the photos of the event!

Finding Your Focus

As much as possible I like to paint outside. Its not always possible to do this of course, so I spend a lot of time taking photos of things. These form a collection of visual notes that I can scroll back to, looking for ideas and inspiration.

While great for reference, photos often don’t really capture what excites you in a scene. If you can, its helpful to make some sketches or notes soon after. What was the quality of the light? What caught your eye and inspired you to stop and look? While the camera sees and captures a whole scene, our eyes will focus on that one detail that excites us. Often this detail is obscured by the myriad other details surrounding it in a photograph. Refining your vision and focus is an important first step in creating a painting.

When I was driving home from a plein air workshop this past summer I was struck by the beauty of the late afternoon light on the water on the bay. Shades of pink and mauve alternating with silver lines of light on the water faded into mist at the horizon. The pink sand was punctuated closer to shore by the graphic lines of reeds.  It was a stunningly beautiful moment. I pulled my car off the road and quickly took a few photos. While capturing something of the design of the scene, the photo below is a poor replica of the scene before me. I filed it away, but the memory of that pink evening light stayed with me.

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One day this spring, I pulled out the photo and began to do some preliminary sketches for a painting. I made the sketch below with some color notes.

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I decided that getting the color right was really going to be the challenge, so it would make sense to start with a smaller study to refine the color palette.

pink1

First I transferred the sketch onto a small piece of  UArt and laid in some color for an underpainting. I wanted to set up the play of warms and cools from the beginning, so used oranges and purples. After washing this color down with alcohol, I began to lay in pastel over the underpainting, establishing the lightest lights and darkest darks.

pink2

More detail and texture is added to the sand and grasses, playing off the colors in the underpainting. My goal was to add as little pastel as possible, and yet make the scene come alive. I experimented with layering colors on a scrap of paper to create the effect I was looking for.

pink3

Perhaps because I was doing a study, it was easier for me to stop before going too far and losing the spontaneity of the piece. I developed a working palette, and with my notes began to think about tackling the larger piece.

As I began the larger piece, I used both the study and the original source photo as reference. In the image below, the final painting sits on the easel with the photo reference on my ipad above, and the study below. At this point I have completed the underpainting, and have established the dark and light.

Inevitably as I worked, the larger painting took on a life of its own, and I found that I needed additional colors. I struggled with the color of the grasses in the foreground, wondering whether to keep them very neutral  and dark as they appear in the photo, or follow my memory of the pink and golden glow.

photo2

The final painting developed over several days in which I worked back and forth between cool and light. I also was fighting the tendency to tighten up too much, and get too specific. At times I brushed out areas to soften them, and reapplied layers of fresh pastel.

The larger size of the final piece allowed me room to explore the color of the sky and atmosphere, and sharpen details in the grasses and water. While I miss some of the spontaneity of the sketch, I think the final painting is richer for it. Working on the sketch first allowed me the opportunity to develop my color palette, and refine the focus of the piece. The image below shows the piece as it was close to being finished. I had decided to abandon the lighthouse on the horizon, as I thought it was distracting. I was trying to resolve some issues in the foreground with the grasses and line of the dip in the shoreline, which was true to the photo.

Pink_final

In the final piece, I reinstated the lighthouse, although I relocated it to the left. I simplified the shoreline to allow your eye to pass over it, and go right to the orange grasses and water beyond, the focal point of the painting. I also added sparks of light in the grasses, because in my memory, the dance of the light on the water was such an important part of the beauty of the scene.

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I find that keeping a record of the progress of a painting like this is a great way to review your process and learn more about what what works and why. As the painting progresses ideas are lost and found. Seeing them again in the photo record allows you to return to them in another painting and push them further.

Happy painting!

FPO Show 2012

I am honored to have a painting included in the For Pastels Only show presented by the Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod June 26-July 22, 2012. It was an impressive grouping of work by many well-known artists working in this medium. The opening was at the Cultural center of Cape Cod in South Yarmouth. It was fun to see many of the artists that I have met at various workshops this past year, and a pleasure to see so many beautiful paintings. White Beach Dawn, shown below, was selected for inclusion in the show. This painting of the white shell beach and Madrona trees along the rocky coast line of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island is set in one of my favorite places, Yellowpoint.

White Beach Dawn 12 x18

Show at Mad Hatter extended through first week in May

Owner Deb Fairbanks has decided to extend the show through the first week in May. Approximately 30 guests came by for our second artist reception on March 31st. We got great feedback on the work, and it was a pleasure to be there. Deb has done a wonderful job with the installation. Between the pastels (mine and Dave Kaphammer’s), the HD photography by Bjorn Bergsten, the lovely hangings by Catherine Hirsh, and the beautiful large sculptural pieces by Elizabeth Harrison there’s a lot to see. Plus you can get a great snack and a cup of Joe at the Coffee loft. Thanks everyone for coming! Tell your friends there’s still time to see the show! I’ll post some photos from the opening later on.

The gallery is at 406 Lincoln St. in Marlborough MA 508-251-1431

Gallery: Water images

Paintings done over the summer and fall of 2011. Click on a thumbnail to see a larger image.

I have been fascinated by water for years. The transparency of the water and its reflective surface present endless seductive details. Deciding what to capture, and rendering it so it is believable and fresh are the primary challenges.

White beach is painted as the brilliant dawn light illuminates the shell beach, driftwood, and Madrona trees of the Pacific Northwest.

The Houghtons’ Pond series explores the tension between three surfaces: reflected sky and light, the lily pads and leaves floating on the surface of the water, and the stems and pond floor below.

Off the Dock explores the colors of the surrounding summer landscape as it reflected in the gently rippling water. Cedar trees overhang the edge of the lake, creating mysterious eddies, dark and cool. A few shafts of light penetrate below the surface revealing the warm tones of the silty lake water.

Malibu Beach was captured from a cliff overlooking the beach. Purple shadows were enveloping the cliff face, but the hillside on which we stood was covered in succulents, bright orange and green in the sunlight. A guy on a surf board played tag with a seal in the waves below us.

If you missed the show, check out the video

Despite the record heat, many people came to the opening of my show at the library 7/21/11. I got some great feedback, lots of positive comments, saw many old and new friends, and by the end of the night had sold three pastels and two photos.

Much to my surprise, a reporter from the Patriot Ledger came as well to report on the opening. The video appears in video section of patriotledger.com.

To get a small glimpse of the show go to:

http://www.patriotledger.com/video/x1259737036/Diane-Sawyer-reception-at-Milton-Library