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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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...

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Painting Perspective | Techniques Used to Accentuate Depth

In last week's post, I discussed the effects that linear and aerial perspective have upon the appearance of depth within a painting. Understanding the physics behind the two can give an artist the ability to manipulate them for creative purposes without compromising the integrity of the scene.

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Understanding Perspective and Painting Depth

One of the most magical qualities created in representational painting is the illusion of depth on a flat surface. The better we understand the two forms of perspective involved in the illusion, the easier it becomes to represent.

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Reaching the End | When is a Painting Finished?

It seems that most of us—even when we have mapped out a destination for a painting—still find it hard to know when to put down the pastel stick and stop working. In fact, one of the most commonly asked question in one of my workshops is "How do you know when you are done?"

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Artistic Driver’s Education

When we first attempt to paint, the bulk of our energy is focused on learning how to handle the medium we've chosen. In many ways, it's similar to learning to drive an automobile. At first, we are not as concerned with where we are driving but how we are driving. As technical ability improves,...

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The Butler Institute of American Art | A Friend to the Pastelist

I recently had the opportunity to visit a gem of an art museum housed in Youngstown, Ohio. The Butler Institute of American Art is internationally known as “America’s Museum.” Built by Youngstown industrialist Joseph G. Butler, it opened to the public in 1919 as the first structure dedicated solely for the purpose of displaying...