Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A late bird here

Clear Cut west:
~10 x 10.5"
Pastel on paper

Thanks to Dice, Mike, and Jennifer for encouraging and helping me post here. It is great to see the energy of all these painters. Kind of makes it easier to get out there and do it, when other's are painting and posting the results.

Painted the same morning with Nick and Jennifer nearby. Paul Kratter was a few hundred yards away, and Sharon was up on top of the hill. The East Bay hills above Berkeley and Oakland are being systematically clearcut of Eucalyptus, a quick-burning, non-native species which grows in abundance up here. It is a bit ironic that a lot of early California landscape painting celebrated the distinctive Eucalyptus silhouettes and groves in the Bay Area and Southern California.

One result of this clearing out of trees is that new vistas are appearing, as well as places to paint them from. To get to this spot, I hiked over several acres of Eucalyptus 'shreds' that had been laid down over the hillside, burying poison oak plants among other flora. At this point the hill became very steep, so I stopped, and ended up sitting on the ground, as it was too sloped to set up my stool. The wind followed me all the way down the hill, and the chill factor began to kick in after about a half hour. Jennifer and Nick appeared soon behind me and started painting. It's always worth it in the end, even if you aren't completely satisfied with the result.

I was interested in this view as it looked down into a foliage choked ravine, then out onto the ridge line that began to turn blue as it angled away to the right. Beyond that lay Berkeley and Emeryville, providing different texture and color, as it lay in sunlight. Some grand old Eucalyptus are standing up on the ridge at left, catching the light. I don't know if they'll be spared or not.

I'm not crazy about the overall color range, and some of the values are a bit suspect. Specifically the far ridge should be lighter in value against the city. It's easy to get tricked by a contrasting edge, which is what I think happened to me here.

Here's one more, painted a few weeks earlier, up on the hill where Sharon was painting on this morning. It's looking East at sunrise. The North peak of Diablo is visible on the right.


Eduardo Pacheco said...

=O Yes! You got him to post, Dice. Awesome.

Your pastel works have been really enjoyable and inspiring, Bill. I've been learning how to paint with them. What brand(s)/types do you use?

I hope to see more of these. :)

dicet said...


Wow, these are incredible! What a sense of morning light you captured.

thanks so much for sharing! And hope we get out there soon!

Bill Cone said...

Thanks for the kind remarks. It was seeing all the work posted on this blog and others that made me want to contribute. Fun. Good energy. Always interesting to see the world through the eyes of others.

As far as pastels go, I'm using a lot of Terry Ludwig, with Unison and some Sennelier thrown in. Both Unison and Terry Ludwig have a lot of atmospheric color ranges, and Terry Ludwig has some of the better dark values. Sennelier has some good sky colors and violets. You could start with any of those brands and do fine, frankly. Eventually, you just end up with a mixture of types as you experiment over time. They are all 'soft' pastels, though. Rembrandts are harder, and you could practically drive nails with nupastels....
You can mix the different hardness, but only by laying down the hard ones first. I stick with the soft. Messy, but fun.

Mike Dutton said...

Bill, it's so good to finally see your work up here! I'm glad it took you a while though, because if you'd done it earlier I wouldn't have had the courage to show any of mine. ;)

I also really enjoyed your writing, describing your experience on these mornings. It's something I'm usually forced to fill in the blanks for when I look at landscapes by other artists: the journey in creating them.

And finally, it's so good to meet someone else who feels the same way about our eucalyptus problem, or as I like to call it, the treeweed from down under.

Benjamin Plouffe said...

Yes these look great!!! Ive never experimented with the unison or senneliers their just too expensive at 6$+ a peice =(. Ive been using the Rembrandt ones which i quite like. Ill have to invest in buying some of the most expensive brands at some point.

thanks for posting.

Bill Cone said...

Mike said: (snip)...good to meet someone else who feels the same way about our eucalyptus problem, or as I like to call it, the treeweed from down under."

I've got mixed feelings, to be honest. I grew up in the Bay Area, and these trees have been here all my life.
They have been a staple of California landscape painting for at least a century. I would not have known they were a non-native species unless someone told me. So, visually, I like 'em, even if they can be fashioned into a visual cliche. I do understand why they are being removed, and I welcome new areas to paint from, etc. so it's a mixed bag.

Ben said:
Ive been using the Rembrandt ones which i quite like. Ill have to invest in buying some of the most expensive brands at some point.
Have you ever looked at Dominique Louis' work?
He used Rembrandt pastels, and did amazing things with them. I think the relative hardness is not necessarily an advantage or disadvantage, technically, or artistically.
Granted, if there are a range of pastels in a certain
hardness range that are compatible from different manufacturers, you may have access to a greater
range of tones and hues than a single manufacturer can provide. Regarding cost, you may be able to find some good prices online.
Check out Terry Ludwig's website. Sometimes they offer sales.

Another useful site is Dakota Pastels

Dakota has a lot of useful info on compatible
brands in terms of hardness, great storage boxes, etc.

There's nothing wrong with using what you've got.
More painting is likely to get you further than switching brands. If you are interested in trying a softer pastel, You can try a decent starter set. Terry Ludwig has one, as does Sennelier, and Unison. The more meaningful differences among these brands are the shapes they come in, how brittle certain colors are, and what colors you DONT have. You won't know what you're missing until you go out and paint! That's why you start trying other brands. Shape of the tool is a more personal issue, but the way I use pastels has evolved by trying different shaped ones.

Ah, this is beer drinking talk. Happy Friday. Gotta get to work.

Thanks for the notes.


Joe Kresoja said...

Nice stuff you guys got going on this blog!!