Rendering water realistically (in any medium), with all of its many facets, is typically one of the frontier challenges of pastel painting. Self-taught pastelist Amy K. Sanders has relished this watery challenge. Because she lives along the Atlantic coast, she says the ocean fuels her artist’s soul.
Here she shares observations gleaned from work on three of her pastel landscapes. For more tips on painting waves and water, see Amy’s complete step-by-step in the December 2012 issue of Pastel Journal.
This painting was intentionally narrowed in value ranges and a bit fuzzy, because it was the wild surf after a huge storm. The water was in a frenzy (making for confused fish and, thus, happy birds), kicking up lots of spray that scattered the light.
This piece shows how drastically a palette changes when the weather is stormy. Removing the blue in the sky largely removes it from the water, leaving behind lots of rich grays and the deep greens of a churned-up sea.
Still water has its own challenges. Here the challenge lay in rendering the ripples; the curves had to be rendered carefully, because small mistakes would easily be picked up by an observer as looking “wrong.” In the background water, a puff of wind blows lightly across the pond, changing the angle of the water’s surface and what is reflected to the viewer.
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