Richard McKinley’s Pastel Pointers Blog

Richard McKinley offers weekly advice for pastel artists, covering plein air painting tips, art design ideas, information on landscape painting and must-know pastel techniques.

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A Visit to The Met, Part 2 | The Manet Effect

The name Edgar Degas is forever synonymous with pastel, but he was not the only French Impressionist to be utilizing the medium. Édouard Manet, whom Degas first meets while copying a Velazquez painting at the Louvre, did a considerable amount of work in pastel. Some of the best examples are on display alongside Degas...

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A Visit to The Met, Part 1 | The Experimentation of Degas

Having the opportunity to visit any art museum is a pleasure. There's always something to be learned. While art books and magazines serve a great purpose in providing visibility to many pieces of artwork that would otherwise be left in obscurity, they cannot equal the joy of viewing original artwork in person. It's easy...

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Finding Pastel Treasure in the Garage

Because I never want to run out of some art supply that I really use, I tend to buy a lot of a material I really like and hoard it. I tell my students that when I die there's going to be one heck of a garage sale. But the pastels stashed away in...

Pastel Pointers | Artists and Their Public

Twilight is an interesting time of day to paint. It lasts for only a short amount of time. When not finessed properly, it can become cliché, looking more like a postcard than a fine art painting. Not being a person that has been drawn to painting this specific time of day, I found it...

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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...