Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rapture and Serenity

'Rapture & Serenity' 11x13" Soft Pastels on Wallis Museum Grade Paper

Early one evening my darling and I took supper on the patio. As we finished I took note of the fringe of white fire that the late day sun was striking in the edges of the Sieryu maple. The Buddleia was still in bloom, and despite the contrast, her purpleness, and some lovely orangey glow was twinkling in her canopy. I ran for the camera and after snagging some shots, I continued to study the scene for the few minutes that it continued.
As you might expect, the photo darks were very dark, near black, but I knew they were not quite as inky as they appeared. There was a ‘smokiness’ to those darks in the real garden. As I prepared to paint I considered two conflicting strings of painterly advice I had picked up:
  • “Students go too dark too soon. It’s a common problem.”
  • “In pastels, if you don’t get your darks ‘dark enough’ early, there’s really no going back to fix it late in the game.”
Hmm. Definitely some serious darks here, and some serious brights. I decide to set the darks at absolute and layer in lighter values of color as needed for texture until I found that ‘smokiness’, whatever that was. It went slowly for me. Long periods of looking and thinking between small bits of painting. I tried a blue in the darks to push them back…but ouch! It was all wrong. Broke the warmth of the scene. In brushing it off, I found my way back in. The brushed out areas left a dark haze, but some tint of light was shining through from the white paper. There was that suggestion of smoke! I do love how the process of painting can be a continual puzzling out of problems, approaches, fixes, and yes, that sweet rush when some little thing works.

March 2011
I renamed this piece and post 'Rapture and Serenity' after cropping it hard on the left and studying it some more. I just couldn't escape the sensation of 'standing in the presence of God.' Here it is cropped and framed for printing on greeting card stock.


  1. Hi Carol, You have a great pastel drawing here I love the colours keep up the good work. Brian

  2. Thanks for the follow and the comment Brian.