Using pastels, Lee McVey creates landscapes people feel they can walk right into. Her love of nature began when she was a young girl walking in the woods with her grandparents. Those experiences have inspired Lee to focus on studio and plein air landscape painting.
Every now and then, a painting feels like it's painting itself without conscious thinking from me. View to the Mountain is one of those paintings. This in the zone, painting without conscious thinking, doesn't happen every time I go out to paint. It's wonderful when it does happen and it feels meditative.
The view is of the Sandia Mountains from one of the Open Spaces in the Sandia foothills owned by the City of Albuquerque. I've painted there frequently over the years. Perhaps my familiarity with the area lended itself to my being in the zone.
I painted this in the spring on a breezy day. Since the wind was coming from one direction, I was able to position myself so I was shielded from the wind by a large juniper tree. This also allowed me to enjoy the warmth from the sun and not the feel the chilly breezes.
My 400 grit UART sanded pastel paper was toned red with watercolor after I mounted it onto museum board. You can see some of the toned paper peaking through my pastel strokes.
I'm surprising myself by having fun with watercolor underpainting. I resisted using watercolors for underpainting for quite a while. I preferred using pastel with alcohol or water. I had alcohol and water is easy so I didn't see the need to purchase watercolors just for underpainting.
At the last IAPS convention (International Association of Pastel Societies) I impulsively bought a small travel set of watercolors, La Petite Aquarelle by Sennelier. Instead of just the traditional colors of the color wheel, this set also includes cobalt blue, rose madder, intense deep green, and green yellow.
Initially I thought I had made a mistake by having these bold colors, but I decided to see what happens with them and I do like the results! I think these bold, intense colors add to my painting and allow me to be more expressive.
Here's a demo in progress that I did for my recent pastel class. The view is of Spark's Lake in Oregon. I've only been there once for plein air painting, but it was a memorable experience and I still am inspired by my reference photos. I'm using UART Premium Board in 320 grit, a surface I absolutely love painting on.
The underpainting and the sketch on top done with Generals pastel pencil
Beginning to add pastel
Please check back later to see the finished painting. I put this aside for while in order to work with oils.
Spring is definitely in the air--at least it is in the southwest. Flowering trees are blooming and the birds have increased their singing. It's a time for new growth and new beginnings.
That's how I feel about my art work and my goals. In January, I intended to write a blog post every week, but that didn't last long, unfortunately. I had plenty of ideas to write about, but other commitments with deadlines became a priority, so something had to give.
I was disappointed to let blogging slide, especially because I announced on my blog I would write weekly. I could have berated myself and become angry at myself for not keeping up my intentions. That's what I used to do. But that doesn't feel very good and it doesn't help matters.
Instead, I am just going to start again. And again, if need be. I enjoy blogging and I'll do my best.
It's inevitable that things come up to interrupt so it's best to keep a good attitude and just start again.
How do you handle interruptions and set backs? Do you get upset like I used to or can you just begin again?
Chamisa, 12 x 12 Pastel (above left) and Clouds over the Mountain, 12 x 12 Pastel (above right) along with Autumn Splendor 16 x 12 Pastel (at the top of the page) were juried into the 26th Pastel Society of New Mexico National Pastel Painting Exhibition held at Sorrel Sky Gallery in Santa Fe, NM. The show is up through March 31st, so if you are in the area, please do stop in at Sorrel Sky (125 E Palace Ave, Santa Fe, NM) It's a beautiful show in a beautiful venue.
I was a co-chair for this pastel show and there was lots of work to be done, getting sponsors so we could award prizes, contacting jurors and judges, getting volunteers to help with various tasks, taking in the paintings, and much more. This and pastel painting took up most of my time and was one of the interruptions I spoke about earlier.