Becky Johnson lives in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. But the painter doesn’t go for the vast, majestic mountain scenes you might expect of someone living in that area. Instead, she’s drawn to more intimate scenes like the one that inspired Along the Road, below. It won the artist the Richeson Pastel Gold Award in the 18th Annual Pastel 100 Competition. See all the winners in the April 2017 issue of Pastel Journal here.
Her Working Process
The immediacy of the artist’s pastels can be attributed, at least in part, to her working methods. “I usually don’t do preliminary sketches,” Johnson says. “Rather, I plunge right in after finding the reference photo that interests me.” The artist selects a size and surface for the work. She then considers how the the elements will be placed on the paper. “I’ve found that I conceive many of my successful paintings quickly. If I spend too much time planning or sketching, I lose the enthusiasm that made me want to paint it in the first place.”
Johnson lays down a few lines or shapes with a pastel pencil, and then begins applying color. “Which surface I choose depends a lot on what I’m painting,” says Johnson. She selected Indigo Mi-Tientes Touch paper for Along an Old Road and used a range of soft pastels to complete the landscape. “The softer the pastels, the more I like them,” she continues, “with my favorite brands being Schmincke, Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, Unison, and Jack Richeson.” She seldom uses the harder sticks, but does use pastel pencils to feather areas of soft pastel or to sharpen edges by picking up color.
Here are more examples of Johnson’s quiet expressions of the beautiful landscape of the Mountain West:
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