Author Archives: Richard

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Pastel Pointers | Making New Friends

Sometimes the experience of painting can feel more like a battle than a party. I once overheard an artist describe it as a roller coaster ride. We go up and then we go down—back and forth until the ride stops. At a recent workshop, a dear artist friend of mine, Kathy Detrano, had a...

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Practicing Intuition | 9 Underpainting Exercises

Whenever I'm demonstrating an underpainting technique, someone—at some point—will ask: Why did you put that color/value in that area? It's a tough question to answer since so much of what I'm doing is responding to the current painting situation with an anticipation of what will be done with the over-layers of pastel to come.

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Pastel Pointers | When Memory Gets in the Way

During a recent visit to the Goleta Slough in California, I noticed that the bank of eucalyptus trees that lines the crest of the coastal cliffs to the east had changed. In many parts of the state there's a movement to eradicate the trees since they aren't native to the region. Conversely, California in...

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So, What’s Your Hook?

Knowing the hook—or what it is that attracted me to a certain scene—is key to producing a successful landscape painting. It's the concept. If I don’t know why I’m doing it, then I won’t know what to do. Following this concept is also useful in terms of knowing when a painting is finished. Think...

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Playing the Painting Game | What to Do When You’re Striking Out

Occasionally when I venture out to paint, especially on an extended plein air trip, I can do a lot of swinging (to use a baseball analogy) but never connect with the ball. Travel plans are made; the daily obligations of life put on hold; and an expectation of what will be creatively accomplished during...

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The Importance of Art Critiques | 4 Tips for Receiving Feedback

While a passion to communicate visually lies at the core of the desire to paint, and the diversity of individual vision ultimately leads to great artistic expression, artwork cannot be created in a vacuum. The feedback, both positive and negative, garnered from others plays its part in our creative development. Having perspective on what...

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The Power of Suggestion

The power of suggestion is a strong tool in the hands of an artist. When a painting is viewed, visual bits and pieces are processed and assembled into a recognizable image by the viewer. Often with only an indication, a viewer will be able to finish what the artist suggested and ultimately believe that...

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Pastel Painting Transportation, Part 2 | Protective Sheets, Tape & More

In last week’s blog post, I started a discussion about the transport of unframed pastel paintings, starting with information about the importance of the painting surface support. As I mentioned there, Gatorfoam board has become a very popular product for this purpose. Here, I'll continue the conversation with a discussion of protective sheets, tape...

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Pastel Painting Transportation, Part 1 — Pastel Supports

As marvelous as the medium of pastel is for painting on location, there's one issue that has to be addressed to make sure our efforts survive: Transportation. Small travel-sized pastel palettes have made our lives vastly easier, as has the introduction by most major pastel manufacturers of half-stick assortments of their most popular colors....

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Negative Space in Painting | Embrace the Negative for Positive Results

Retaining a positive outlook when painting is an important factor to a successful outcome. As any athlete will attest, if you think you’ll hit the ball, you probably will. By keeping a positive can-do attitude as an artist, you’ll likely produce a more confident painting. Yet there’s one instance when a negative viewpoint may prove...