I’ve completed a few pastels in recent weeks that are based on pencil drawings I created. I do a pastel color study before creating a final oil painting — the goal of the pastel drawing is to work out the color palette I’ll use for the piece. I do my pastels on 9x12 Canson Mixed Media paper (the same I use for my pencil drawings).

The first pastel I recently finished (seen above) is a view of the Lower Salt River, located just east of Phoenix. I created the piece from a photograph I took on one of my recent kayaking trips down the Salt, from a small sand beach about 2 miles south of Saguaro Lake. The point of view is in the direction of the sun, and I was trying to convey the warmth of the day and the bright sunshine. I kept the color palette limited, keeping to the purple of the mountains in the distance, the blues of the sky and water, various greens and blue-greens for the trees, bushes and foliage, and browns for the small strip of beach in the right foreground. There is a bright hot spot at the top with the sun just outside the frame, and that bright sunshine is reflected off the water all the way into the foreground. I’m hoping the viewer gets the feeling of a warm Arizona summer day, enjoyed next to the cooling waters of the Lower Salt River.

The second pastel (seen below) is of an imaginary landscape based on a blurry photograph my daughter took my phone. When I did the preliminary pencil drawing, I planned on doing a couple of different variations of it in pastel and oil, varying both the cropping, the elements, the values and the color. This is the first of those, and I chose a very bright color palette, pushing the limits of “real color”, just as I did in my second Kohala painting. I used red orange for the sky, bright greens and blue-greens for the bushes and background hill, bright yellow greens for the foreground hill, and more bright greens and blue-greens for the bushy areas in the foreground. I wasn’t trying to use a natural color palette for this piece, but rather considered it a color exercise, using the bright hues of each color value and getting them to work together without fighting or clashing.

The finished pastels are framed them in an 11x14 white frame with a white mat that has an 8x10 opening. If you’re interested in buying any of my pastel drawings, they’ll be available here for sale on the site soon!

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