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.


Pastel Underpainting Freedom

Most pastelists utilize some form of an underpainting technique to mass in the large areas of a composition. This under-layer acts as a stage for the over-layer performance of pastel. For some artists, the underpainting serves a very utilitarian purpose by representing the average value and color tones of the scene. It’s merely a...


Lessons of Still Life Painting | Artist Claudia Seymour

As a genre, still-life compositions provide the artist more freedom than landscape or portrait painting to arrange commonplace objects that may be natural (flowers, plants, rocks, food, etc.) or man-made (vases, drinking utensils, books, jewelry, etc.). These components provide unlimited possibilities for compositional combinations encompassing the design elements of: Line, Shape, Color, Value, Tone,...


Pastel Pointers | How to Deal with Unfinished Paintings

One of the New Year resolutions on my artistic list is to resolve more of the unfinished paintings residing in my studio. Leonardo da Vinci famously said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” In my studio, there are a lot of forsaken works wistfully awaiting completion.


A Pastelist’s New Year Resolutions | Setting Creative Goals

The dawning of the New Year provides a perfect time for many artists to step back from the day-to-day exercise of painting and evaluate how their artistic journey is progressing. When you paint regularly, it's easy to become micro-focused: The current painting on the easel is the only thing that matters, making it hard...


A Holiday Wish From the Pastel Pointers Blog

    Editor’s Note: We’ll be taking a short winter break to celebrate the holidays and then we’ll be back in January to deliver more Pastel Pointers. Enormous thanks to Richard for another full year of pastel inspiration and instruction! —Anne Hevener, Editor, Pastel Journal   You may also like these articles:


Pastel Techniques | The Dry Underpainting

The general purpose of beginning a pastel painting with an underpainting is to create a setup in advance of the application of pastel. It is the cake, so to speak, to the icing. An underpainting is particularly useful when surface tone is vastly different than what is being portrayed. This can be especially bothersome...


Pastel Artists Who Inspire | William Truman Hosner

There are some paintings that linger in our memories like a favorite song, playing over and over again. I saw one such painting at the annual Pastel Society of America exhibition in New York City this fall. As I entered the Grand Gallery in the National Arts Club and began my tour, I was...


Giving Thanks, Pastel Style

This week the United States of America celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday—a time when we're encouraged to reflect on the things for which we are thankful. Human nature, being what it is, often keeps us more attentive to the negative versus the positive aspects of life. All we have to do is tune into the...


A Matter of Reference | Utilizing Reference Materials in the Studio

The "Pastel Pointers" column in the current issue of Pastel Journal discusses three methods that plein air pastelists can use to find inspiration in the studio when winter forces them indoors. However, the landscape artist still faces the challenge of being denied access to the literal scene, something the still life and portrait/figurative painter...