Tag Archives: pastels

From On High… An Idea (25/365)

So I was pretty high up on a climb on Kid Goat (Blue Bubble) when it occurred to me it’s really hard to capture a real sense of how it feels to be up that high above the valley floor in a photograph.


A vista like this sort of conveys scale (those are tall trees down there, and they don’t look very big). But what is harder to capture is the sense of vertigo when you are actually directly above stuff, like when you are at a hanging belay on the side of a cliff…


So, I took a bunch of reference photos and what I think I’ll try to do is a drawing or painting that exaggerates certain elements of the composition to try to better reflect the feeling of being up there…


Here’s a view of the climb from below, from the approach trail.

Dad has been very helpful, sending me examples of work by people like Sonja Delaunay and Andre Derain, who both used exaggerated colour and perspective to get their point across.


andre derain 1904 baker-s-hotel

Baker’s Hotel by Andre Derain, 1904


sonia delaunay three-women-dressed-simultaneously.jpg!Large

Three Women Dressed Simultaneously by Sonia Delaunay

And then I found this one, also by Sonia…


sonia delaunay 1967 color-rhythm-1967.jpg!Large

Color Rhythm by Sonia Delaunay, 1967

Which was a bit odd, because I’d been playing with colour blocks in my notebook just moments before I found her work after following a link sent by Dad…


My blocks are a lot less solid than hers (pastels on textured paper rather than oil paints in Delaunay’s…). And my palette is totally different, of course… but on that front I was inspired by Josef Albers, about whom you will hear more in the days to come as Dad and I have had several Albers conversations and, weirdly enough, he is also featured in a current issue of an art magazine (which I stumbled across online and have now lost again… I’ll retrace my steps and try to post a link when I get back to Albers properly…)

It has been another busy day and I need to go find some grub, have a shower, and take another look at the scenes we’ll be rehearsing tomorrow for the Canmore Summer Theatre Festival’s production of Romeo and Juliet. My creative cup runneth over!!






Q is for Quarry Lake (AtoZChallenge2018)


IMG_2289 Quarry Lake Picnic

Quarry Lake Park near Canmore


Well, sometimes the stars align, hey? I was wondering what on earth I’d dredge up to talk about when Q rolled around. After I picked A. up from a dentist appointment, we headed up to Quarry Lake for a stroll and a pizza-themed picnic. Because it’s so close (about a five-minute drive from downtown), it’s a pretty popular spot and even though the trails are  soggy at the moment there were lots of people out and about enjoying the spring sunshine (and, yes, it is very strange for me, a Vancouver Islander for so many years, to consider a snow-covered landscape to be in any way related to the word spring).

The views here are terrific – Ha Ling is one of my favourite mountains (we can see it from our condo, just across the valley), but up close and personal, it’s an impressive peak. Quarry Lake Park is also a designated off-leash dog park, which makes it a great place for pup-watching.


Quarry Lake Tree Bark

Quarry Lake Tree (bark detail)… Keep an eye on the blog for a pastel interpretation of these great colours and patterns!  


The lake was still sort of frozen (everything is quite slushy this time of year) and overed with snow, but in the summer should one try to swim out a bit and dive down (good luck – it’s cold no matter what time of year you visit…), you’d have to hold your breath a loooong time before you reached the bottom as it’s over 100 meters deep in its deepest, darkest corners (if a lake can have corners…)

Once a quarry (surprise, surprise), the park is slowly reclaiming land once used for mining. And, yes, I do mean the park is doing the reclaiming. Picnic tables and toilets aside, large areas are just being left alone to slowly return to their natural state.



Ha Ling from Quarry Lake Park, Mixed Media Experiment (yep, I touched Deb’s pastels… living dangerously! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Visit P is for Pastels)


See you tomorrow! I wonder if I’m actually going to make it through the R-S-T-U -V-When-will-the-alphabet-ever-end doldrums this year?? So far, so good… it’s looking promising!



P is for Pastels… (AtoZChallenge2018)



Two Dancers (pastel on paper) by Edgar Degas, 1898-1899


A long time ago (when I was moving from Victoria to Canmore) I discovered a box of art supplies in our storage room. In that box were some ancient pastels that perhaps once belonged to my son-in-law, perhaps a gift from his mom who loves to scavenge for treasures in garage sales and thrift shops. T. claims to have no idea where they came from and had no interest in keeping them, so they wound up moving here to the mountains with me.



The mysterious thrift store set of pastels…


Pastels are terrifying. They are messy and intense and stick to your fingers like a bad relationship. Or something. Anyway, they’ve stayed in a box with an ancient pad of pastel paper and a few other bits and bobs waiting for me to get brave enough to touch them.



The Players (pastel on paper) by Raphael Kirchner


Then, my friend Deb moved to Canmore and decided to clean out some excess art supplies and I found myself with a few more, newer pastels – also too scary to touch. Part of my anxiety around visual art comes from having grown up with an actual, accomplished artist. Talk about feeling intimidated! I was chatting with Dad about this at some point and he shook his head and said, “…when you were a kid you didn’t worry about it. You just tried stuff. You were quite good.”


pastel-2 Robert Brackman

Pastel by Robert Brackman


He’s my dad and I was a cute kid, so he’s obliged to say stuff like that. But, it did get me thinking that kids don’t worry about whether or not their efforts are good enough. At least, not at first. Eventually, many learn that yes, everything we do is judged – either by others or by our own inner critics… But at first, we just play. We grab whatever supplies are in front of us and we scribble and swirl, mix and match, experiment and goof around.



Georg Anton Urlaub, Self-portrait (1735) I didn’t realize that pastels have been around since the Renaissance… I bet this guy wasn’t nearly so neurotic when it came time to pick up his pigment sticks… 


What, I wondered, would I have done with this abundance of pastels when I was 6 or 7? Who knows? What I do know, though, is I would have done something. I wouldn’t have kept the stuff in a box for two years wishing I had the nerve to play.



Bruised Planet Adrift (Nikki plays with her box of pastels… There. The curse has been broken. Now I’ll practice a bit, learn how to use the darned things, and see what I might be able to come up with. Note: I’m still a bit leery about touching Deb’s lovely, very new pastels.)

And, finally, one of the names of artists I heard mentioned often when I was growing up was Victor Pasmore, a British painter who influenced Dad when he was an art student. I don’t think this painting of his was done in pastels, but it does have a spiral-esque thing going on… just like me (heh heh). And, his name starts with P, so it’s totally legit to include him here today…



Spiral Motif in White, Black and Indigo, Victor Pasmore (1951) 

See you tomorrow!