Hidden Lake and a Strange Tree Sketch

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12-14-14
48°F
cloud and mist

When cloud and mist subtract vivid color,
and strips loudness from the landscape,
A submissive hush befalls.

Nature takes notice.

Dried goldenrod, past its prime,
quakes tenderly in the silence.
A strange tree stands alone.

His poetry comes to life.

As daylight slips away from my grasp,
I bargain, but it’s no use.
Dusk silences me.
My submissive hush befalls.

Last weekend I had the chance to make a quick getaway to Hidden Lake. The scene was so beautiful, so delicate, so spellbinding, that when I was done painting I had to write this short piece. Not really a poem, nothing rhymes, but a deeper level of feeling a moment, translated into words on paper. A prayer.

This quick time-out was just what I needed to connect and recharge my batteries for the coming week. As I grow older, I find I need this more and more. And I find myself slipping further from the expectations that corporate society has on me to run the rat race and be stuck on that treadmill that leads to nowhere. Contentment without things. Oooo the secret the credit industry doesn’t want you to know.

My prayer is that you too can find an oasis, even for just 10 minutes, so that you can connect and recharge as well and get back to what’s really important.

Let’s Paint Pines by a Lake!

The November landscape has inspired me to create a soft pastel painting. Do you want to paint one with me? OK! Here we go!

First, here is the scene that inspired me (minus the rocks)…

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Now, before we begin, here is a sneak peak of all the steps in a time lapse…

Like it? YOU CAN DO THIS! Here we go.

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Step 1: I am using a gray Ampersand pastel board 20×16. Why gray? For no reason other than I had it laying around. Using a pastel pencil, any light color will do because this will get covered completely, draw a rough sketch. I am using Derwent Pastel Pencils. ***Note: You can use ANY pastel brands you have and any colors. You don’t have to run out and buy the brands I use. :)

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Step 2: Lay down color all over the board just to have a base to work with. Don’t worry about which color is the right color to use. Most of this will be covered. The secret to painting with pastels is, lay down “harder” soft pastels first then top with “softer” soft pastels. You will find certain brands are harder than others. I mainly use Rembrandt and Unison brands. Rembrandt is harder than Unison so they go on the bottom. However (there’s always an exception), Unison brand seems to be darker. The darkest Rembrandt can’t get as dark as a dark Unison…so if I need to go dark, I will use the Unison first.
In this step, I used all Rembrandt pastels and wasn’t too concerned with exact color.

After you cover your board, take a fat paint brush, like a cheap one you paint your walls with, and turpentine and paint over the pastel scribbles. You’re just spreading and moving the pastels around. Don’t worry about direction of brush stroke or anything.
Also, don’t worry how dark it will look. When it dries it will become lighter. Here is what it looks like dry:

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This is completely dry. This step is important because it covers a lot of ground in little time with little pastel pigment.

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Step 3: Now we are going to start layering. Using Rembrandt (medium blue) #506,7  make horizontal likes in the sky near the top of the board. Then take Rembrandt (light blue) #570,9  and paint horizontal lines in the sky above the horizon and in the center.
Going lighter, paint Unison #grey 33, in the sky on top and Unison (light blue) #A53, over the horizon and center of the sky.
Time to wake up your inner child….with your finger blend these colors in the sky back and forth horizontally. Fun! I know!!

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Step 4: Now we are going to paint the base of the pine trees. Using Rembrandt (dark green) #627,3 paint in some pines leaving “sky holes”. You don’t want one solid mass.

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Step 5: Now I notice, I have to go much darker. So, with these colors I overlap my pine boughs Unison (dark blue) #A37, (dark green) #Green 13, (dark purple) #DK 14. Looking great!

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Step 6: Here we are going to highlight the pine, here and there, not covering the whole tree. Using Unison light green, paint in some pine tips.

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Step 7: Using Derwent Pastel Pencil #Spectrum 11F Orange, draw in some birch trees over the lake in the distance. Go lightly.

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Here is a close up so you can see what they look like.

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Step 8: OK! Let’s anchor those pines to the ground by painting a dark color underneath them. Using Unison (dark blue) #A50, also paint the water by the edge of the ground to darken this area. Blend with your finger. Now using that pastel pencil for the birch trees, paint in their reflection in the water.

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Step 9: Using Rembrandt medium blue, like the sky and Unison (light blue) #BV8, paint over the water, lightest color in the middle. Blend with your fingers.

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Step 10: Now we are going to start layering the grasses. Darker color on the bottom. Using Dark Brown Rembrandt #408,3 and dark blue Unison #A49 scribble in some grasses. The lighter grasses I used a medium olive green Rembrandt #227,3.

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Step 11: Here we are layering the grasses with lighter colors and highlighting the pine bark. In the grass area, scribble using a light sage Rembrandt #202,3, beige Rembrandt #236,3, and yellow Rembrandt #227,5. For the pines bark, I highlighted with a red Derwent Pastel Pencil #Deep Cadmium 6D.

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Step 12: Let’s paint the lightest blades of grass and make reflections in the water. The lightest blades are light yellow Unison #Y15. Take some of your grass colors and paint them in the water. Then, take your finger and pull down.

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Step 13 Final: In this step I added more punch to the pines. Using a very light yellow-green Unison highlight some pine tips. Then, sneak in some other striking colors like hot pink and purple…it gives it life. And you’re done!

If you would like a print or greeting card visit below:

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I hope you enjoyed this free step by step soft pastel demonstration of pines by the lake! Remember, you can do this!

Lake Marmo Winter Tree Watercolor Sketch

Lake Marmo Winter Tree

An inviting bench next to a lonely tree…I accept.

still
gentle
calm
by a frozen snow topped lake
the trees don’t make a sound…
contemplating their position
recognizing that this again is winter

Now that winter has stripped the leaves clean it’s time to really study the character and structure of trees. What makes them different from one another? What makes them unique? What flaws do they have? How does the color of the bark differ from its neighbor? What side is the sun hitting and how does the shadow cast? What color is the shadow? Is it windy? Are the shadows dancing?

I love winter for the fact that the trees are exposed. When the snow falls ever so gently on each branch, they are dressed in their winter garments like a fancy white laced dress you only wear on special occasions. And every one of them looks different! I can’t wait for some snow.

Take some time to study the trees. They’ll reveal themselves to you.

Sap Frosted Pine Cone Graphite Drawing

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Not snow, but sap. And after you handle the pine cone, you realize the sap is like superglue on your fingers… but it has the most amazing pine scent, so you don’t seem to mind that you’re a mess.  Ha ha ha!

I found this pine cone while hiking and knew it would look great on toned tan paper I purchased recently from Strathmore. Starting with #2 pencil, I outlined the shape of the cone. Next I added a touch of red with a Sanguine Conté Crayon. Taking a #B6 pencil, I shaded the inner parts of the cone to give it depth. Next, I highlighted the edges of the cone with a white Conté Crayon for the sap. Lastly, I outlined with a navy blue sharpie fine tip pen. Usually I use a black Micron pen to outline, however I believe the blue made it pop.

Toned paper is great for shade value practice. Maybe you can find some nature goodies and practice at home!

October Sunrise Watercolor

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My consecration.
How do I pause morning and partake this very moment without your desertion?
Rescue my heart and stay a bit longer…

Oh, but you can’t.

I will trap you with color and mix you with water and embed you in paper.
My feeble attempt of ensnaring.
A way to consecrate.
That which I adore.

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Sometimes a moment grabs you so hard, that you will do anything to savor it. That’s how I felt when I saw this magnificent scene. I would do anything to keep it.

It is my romance with nature that drives me to my sketchbook.

I’m hoping you have a passion for something that brings positive energy to your life. Don’t lose it! Life is too short.

If you are interested in a print or greeting card of “October Sunrise”, you can find it on the new Artwork for Sale page.