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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Plein Air Minded Pastelists | A Report From the 2014 Plein Air Convention

The act of painting en plein air, or “in the open air,” has its modern origins in the Barbizon school of painting established by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and further advanced by the French Impressionist painters. As art materials became more portable, more artists began to work directly from nature, creating paintings that better represented the...

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Pastel Impasto Impersonation

One of the great advantages of oil paint, beyond its inherent richness of value and color depth due the pigment's suspension in oil, is the ability to apply it thickly--to create an impasto surface effect. The term impasto originates from the Italian word pasta, which means "paste." When associated to painting, it signifies a...

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Painting Blue Skies | Applying the Theory of Light, Part 2

Last week, I started a discussion on how best to deal with an extremely intense blue sky in an otherwise warm landscape scene. I emphasized the importance of representing light by indicating a full spectrum of color and talked about a method of selecting analogous hues of blue and painting them with fragmented strokes...

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Painting Blue Skies | Applying the Theory of Light, Part 1

Recently, while on a painting trip to sunny arid Arizona, I was asked by a student for guidance on how to handle the intensity of the blue sky—especially in a landscape enhanced by the earthen tones of the rugged desert mountains. As someone who lives in an area filled with tree-covered mountains and a...

Halcyon Afternoon (pastel, 12 x 16) By Richard McKinley

Best of Pastel Pointers | The Finish Line

How do you know when you’re done with a painting? This is one of the most frequently asked questions among artists. And most responses are ambiguous at best: When I have gone too far; when someone takes it away from me; when someone offers to buy it; when my teacher tells me I’m done...

Midnight Frosting (pastel, 18 x 24) by Christine Ivers

Painter of the Night | Pastel Artist Christine Ivers

Having a chance to take an art workshop is such a treat. I firmly believe that none of us ever graduate as painters. There's always more to learn and every experience with another artist is a chance to broaden both technically and aesthetically. Recently, I had just such an opportunity with celebrated Connecticut pastelist...

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Edge Intimidation | Two Tools to Overcome the Fear of Painting Edges

The handling of the edges within a painting can be subconsciously intimidating to an artist, which can have a subsequent effect on how product is applied. When the elements that make up the subject matter of a scene are visually recognized, we intellectually understand that they are separated from one another—that there is space...

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The Color Red | A Pastel Valentine

In the 14th century, Chaucer solidified the Valentine's Day's association to love when he composed a poem in honor of the engagement of England’s King Richard II. By the 18th century, the holiday had evolved into an occasion for the exchanging of handmade cards, a custom that spread to the American colonies. Today, the...