The pastel painting of Nancie King Mertz covers an enormous range of subjects, light conditions and palettes. Her world incorporates grand views of urban vistas, twilight visions of rush hour traffic, delightful Italian hilltops, exquisite garden still lifes, floodlit night scenes, evocative interiors and much more. She’s equally at home sketching on a deserted beach in the Florida Panhandle as she is working on cityscape paintings on a traffic median in downtown Chicago.
View the various stages of Nancie King Mertz’s scene of the Chicago River, Under Angle, in her step-by-step demo, and read more about the artist in the February 2015 issue of Pastel Journal, available now in our online shop and on newsstands January 6.
Step-by-Step Pastel Painting by Nancie King Mertz
I prepared a Gatorboard panel with transparent gesso and a squirt of terra cotta acrylic paint before spreading it around with a 2-inch brush. I placed my dark strokes with the side of a soft stick and then washed them in with denatured alcohol to make them transparent. I added notes of bright color early on to establish my design.
Here I began to define the rear bridge, my focal point, with red and the near bridge in blues to make it more about shapes rather than the dominant form.
In this stage, the washed-in darks really began to serve their purpose as I laid in the lighter elements. The blue is a strong but receding element in the composition, allowing the red in the center to remain the focus.
The water began to have a purpose in the composition at this point, and with a few refinements, the painting was complete.
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