Less Is More

For the past three days I have been immersed in what I would call the ultimate pastel plein air workshop. Ironically I have picked up only one stick of pastel in the last the 72 hours. Go figure. But the goal I set for myself before I set foot on the plane with my Heilman box of pastels carefully in hand and not in baggage, was to learn to use less pastel. This workshop is organized by LaConner Art Workshops in Mt. Vernon, Washington and Richard McKinley is the instructor. McKinley’s approach to pastel begins with an underpainting. It may be in pastel, pastel diluted with water or solvent, watercolor, or even oil paint.

skagit

Underpainting "Starts"

This approach produces the “setup” upon which the pastel painting is developed. What is interesting about these “starts” is that while pastel is an opaque medium, a thin, transparent, slippery motif is first applied in the setup stage. Then much like in an oil painters approach, one builds thin to thick, dark to light, dull to bright with pastel.

But while we have lots of technique to wrap our minds around, McKinley also shares a boat load of theory, such as simultaneous contrast, aerial perspective, and developing the area of interest. While are heads are all spinning and our minds are like sponges dripping with art talk, we are entertained with a sense of humor and respect for each individuals own artistic voice.

So far I have about six “starts”, with more plein air locations scheduled for the next three days. After that we head, into the studio for the last two days of the workshop to resolve these underpaintings into more finished pieces.

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5 Responses to “Less Is More”

  1. severnyproductions Says:

    really interesting stuff

    • Marianne Post Says:

      Lots to digest here. We are working sunrise to sunset with a break mid-day. The emphasis is on the underpainting and responding to the serendipity of it all. Great fun and a stretch.

  2. Katherine Kean Says:

    Great starts – they look like they’ll be a lot of fun to build on.

    • Marianne Post Says:

      I have made two more starts today with a bit more finishing in the field. A great workshop, but not for the faint of heart. The location is the Skagit Valley in Washington, where the eagles fly. And believe me I feel like I am soaring.

  3. Sketchbook Thursday No. 10 « e.scape artist Says:

    […] e.scape artist Marianne Post, landscape artist on painting, creative moves, messes and the like « Less Is More […]

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