Questions? Comments? Please email me at

Let us have a complete restoration of America!!
***PLEASE don't pave one more beautiful pasture,
***PLEASE don't cut down one more tree,
***PLEASE don't build another building,
S T O P . . . U R B A N . . . S P R A W L *** S A V E ... O U R ... L A N D ! !

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Paradise Reworked

You all may remember this painting from a couple years ago.  It was juried into the Northeast National Pastel Exhibition in Old Forge, NY.  Well, Don, my fellow Guide on Wetcanvas took it home with him because I wasn't able to go up and get it at the end of the show.  (THANK YOU DON!!)

I finally picked it up a few weeks ago while home visiting and packed this painting and another, Rain before the Snow, that was also in the show, and shipped them both home.  Well, one made it just fine, but this one didn't.  Even though the frames and glass were in perfect condition, it must have been thrown into a truck and landed face down because a ton of pastel was dislodged from the painting and was all over the glass.

So, yesterday I unframed it and have reworked the areas that were ruined.  Am still not sure about the mountains, but I like them better than they were originally.

©2010 Paula Ann Ford, Nature's Paradise. Soft Pastels on Ampersand Pastelbord, 16"x20"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Charlotte's Farm - Step by Step Demonstration in Soft Pastels

As promised in this month’s SPOTLIGHT that I'm hosting on, here is a step-by-step demonstration on how I painted “Charlotte’s Farm.”

As I looked at the beautiful reference photo, I knew I wanted to create a bit more depth than the photo shows so my plan was to push the trees on the left of the main grouping back behind the main tree, which is the largest tree on the right which will be the focal point.

To warm up and prepare, I did several thumbnail sketches to work out my composition, and turned on some nice soft music. So, as I relaxed, sketched, and got in the zone, lots of thoughts and questions were flowing in my mind. For example, will I do a wet underpainting (no, am going to try something different this time), should I go with a more realistic style (yes), what color should I use to unify the whole painting (purple), should I paint in the front grasses (no), how will I handle the sky (time will only tell), where do I want the light source to be (straight up above), what do I want to say about this painting (these beautiful majestic summer trees feel as light as air because of all the sky holes), how will I get those trees in the background to recede so they don’t pull the eye back in that area (keep them cool in color and light in value). Lots and lots of questions pop up before I ever step up to my easel.

Most of the time they can all be solved by doing several things before you start to paint. First, always do thumbnail sketches to work out composition issues. Second, to take it one step farther, do value sketches… and one step beyond that do a color study. For this piece, I didn’t do a color study, but did do the thumbnails which incorporated values.

Ok, I’m all relaxed and ready to paint!

1. Preliminary sketch. I am looking at my final thumbnail sketch to draw the sketch on my board, NOT the reference photo.

2. Block in of all the main colors, lightly. (Mount Visions, Terry Ludwigs, Paul deMarrais-the big orange one on the right end) Included in this is my favorite color of the darkest green Mount Vision #700.

3. This is different for me. Instead of doing an alcohol wash at this point, I took a paper towel and smudged in all the main colors.

4. Went back to the areas where my darkest darks will be and scumbled in more darks. That is the darkest navy blue by Mount Vision, #514.

5. A light wheat color for the front grasses goes in.

A very warm, dark Terry Ludwig green goes into the trees.

For the background grasses, the color is actually a bit warmer than the foreground, and is bit darker. We’ll see how this goes farther into the painting. If it doesn’t work, it can be changed.

A few vertical strokes to show some ground holes in the base of the trees and also a few strokes in the tops of trees for sky holes.

Background trees get some lavenders and blues.

In the closest foreground, some darker areas go in with a medium, warm green and some burnt umber.

6. Some gorgeous Terry Ludwig eggplant gets put into the lower parts of the focal tree.

7. Very important… stand back sever feet to see the painting. If you are standing up close all the time, you can’t see the painting!!! You can see already that the left main trees are receding. DO THIS OFTEN!!! If you are not able to stand while painting, and therefore can not walk back from your painting every few minutes, I suggest buying a REDUCING.GLASS . It will give you the same effect as walking back several feet.

8. That long square stick is a charcoal stick that is used to put in some tree trunks, two different values of blue-greens go into the left focal trees, and more air holes go into the mid section of the trees.

Don’t be afraid to use charcoal in a painting. It does not muddy pastels, and it’s a great color that is seen in nature.

9. Starting to establish groupings of leaves in the main tree by using a lighter value of Kelly greens and yellow greens, and more air holes.

10. Little bits of light green to into the lower part of the main trees as sunlight hits them. Some violets also go into the lower area also. Why? Not sure. My mind just said to put violets there, so I did.

11. Now that the darks have been established in the lower area of the trees, now the grasses can be pulled up in the dark (Polychromos). Some lighter values of lavenders get put into the grasses also. This is my favorite part. I love the contrast between the wheat color and the dark purples and violets.

12. Oooo, scared myself! When I picked up that light blue, it looked fine in my hand, but then I put it in the sky and it looked white! Isn’t that what Richard McKinley means by Simultaneous Contrast? Anyway, it can be fixed later.

I also at this point put some highlights on the background grasses. Note: The land is made up of horizontal bands. As the land recedes, these bands get thinner and thinner and closer together, eventually disappearing.

The back line of trees gets just a bit of darkness in the bottoms of the trees and some lighter blues… all randomly put in.

13. With that back wheat color, I’m putting more air holes in the lower trees, so you can see the field through the trees.

14. Much better! The sky looks much better now that there is another color of blue put over it. Remember, to create interest and a little bit of depth in a sky, use a slightly darker value at the top of the sky. Because that right light color was there already, I just lightly pulled down with horizontal strokes a slightly darker value of blue. The two mixed together and created some interest.

If I’m teaching a workshop, my demonstration starts out with the sky. I use 3 different values of blues, the darkest at the top. It actually looks like 3 stripes in the sky. Then I take out the alcohol and a nice, soft square synthetic paint brush and start crosshatching the top stripe down into the second stripe and so on down to the lightest value. By the time I’m done, there are no more stripes, only a nice gradation in color from top to bottom.

Lots more greens go into the trees, bluer greens in the left, warmer greens in the right.

More sky holes (always reestablishing the ones that seem to disappear).

I also added some leaves and twigs in the lower parts of the trees.

15. More greens…

16. Let’s add some peachy pink into the foreground grasses for interest. Why? I just thought the whole foreground needed a bit of color. I also put some light gray-greens into the background field to cool it down a little.

17. Since I lost most of the sunlight on that foreground field, I’m putting some really light wheat color back in to say “sunshine.”

18. How about a little bright yellow green in the foreground too…

19. With a little bit of going back and forth with the light wheat, peachy pink, and yellow green, I softened the foreground area (and a little bit of lavender for interest).

Note: I always teach that the process of painting in pastels is a back-and-forth, back-and-forth build up of colors. You have to be patient enough to get to the point when the pastels start to blend themselves. If you don’t have enough pigment on your surface, they will not blend!!

20. You can tell that I’m almost finished because my signature goes in (with pencil) in the lower left corner.

A little bit of light green gets added into the foreground to brighten it up even more. I can’t remember why this dark green Polychromos is in the picture… LOL

21. Here are most of the colors used in this painting. They are a combination of Mount Vision’s, Terry Ludwig’s, Polychromos, Dick Blick, Paul deMarrais, Rembrandt gray-green, Schmincke(Kelly green), and a hard square charcoal stick.

22. And finally the finished painting.

©2010 Paula Ann Ford, Charlotte's Farm. Soft Pastels on Uart, 12"x12"

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Princeton, Kentucky Workshop

We were all a bunch of happy campers :0)   What a great workshop!!  Thank you all for attending!  Always remember, your artwork is something that came out of your soul.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday America! Happy 4th of July Everybody!!

Happy Birthday America!
My beautiful country...
I am so proud to be an American
and so blessed to be an artist
who interprets our beautiful landscapes.