Thursday, January 29, 2009


From the rarified air of East/West zodiac constellations back down to earth.

Once a year, I teach a course called Plain-air Painting in the Golden Hour through the Athenaeum. I usually begin with three demos; one in Oil, one in Pastel and if there are takers, one in Watercolor.

Cormorant Rock in Point Loma is my usual starting point. This oil is a one hour Demo done on a 9x12" Museum Mat board, double primed roughly with Dick Blick Master Gesso.
I use an absorbent gesso ground because it takes initial thin oil shapes nicely and dries so quickly that I can then add thicker impasto strokes in a pastel-like brushy fashion over a very dry surface. Low clouds rolled in after I shot the photo... a common occurrence in coastal San Diego.


Sunset Cliffs Trail  Oil on Canvas panel  11x14

Sunset Cliffs Dusk  Oil on Canvas Panel  11x14

My pastels are drawn on either mid-tone Canson Paper or mid-tone Sennillier La Carte Pastel Card. I begin with a vine charcoal lay-in sketch and then build up layers of flat shapes with a combination of flat and edgy strokes (see Portraits in Pastels).


"Cactus Boulder"  Pastel on paper  16x12

Towards Soledad Mt.  Pastel on P. Card    24x18

The Pastels were done in a single session (2-3 hrs); the Oils sometimes require two or three re-visits for final touches.

1 comment:

Susan Webb Tregay NWS said...

Ken, I painted that rock long ago :-). You are using Absorbant Ground gesso? Interesting. I've used it for watercolor, but never took it beyond it. Is thater an advantage for using it with acrylics?