From Fuzzy Bunnies to Hyperrealist Still Lifes

A recap from Day 1 of the Pastel Live virtual art conference:

“Today was such a fantastic day! I appreciated each demo so much and can’t’ wait for tomorrow. I am so impressed with the line up of instructors!” ~Cheryl S.

Woo-hoo! We officially kicked off “Day 1” of Pastel Live yesterday with inspiration and words of wisdom from Eric Rhoads and Gail Sibley. “We’re here to celebrate you and celebrate pastel painting,” Eric said, reminding us to have fun and be playful while we learn together, as this helps us to become better painters and to grow as artists.

And in case you missed it, here are Gail’s 6 tips to get the most out of Pastel Live!

Eric Rhoads and Gail Sibley, our hosts for the 2nd Annual Pastel Live
Eric Rhoads and Gail Sibley, our hosts for the 2nd Annual Pastel Live

We’d also like to thank today’s sponsors, who joined us with special presentations and demonstrations: Susan Kuznitsky with both Blick Art Materials and Savoir Faire; and the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association.

Highlights from Day 1 of Pastel Live

One of the subjects Doug Dawson enjoys painting is the night scene. In his demo, he covered some of the principles he uses to create the illusion of nighttime and techniques that he employs with any subject in a pastel painting.

From Doug Dawson's landscape painting demonstration
From Doug Dawson’s landscape painting demonstration

Coming to us all the way from Scotland, Lynn Howarth shared the techniques and tips she has developed over the years, covering all aspects of pastel portraiture, from the initial sketch to the fully finished painting.

From Lynn Howarth's portrait painting demonstration
From Lynn Howarth’s portrait painting demonstration

Jen Evenhus began her workshop with a unique underpainting technique that led to a painting of one of her favorite subjects: a still life of radishes, because they’re “fun and colorful.” In this photo, she’s about to put the finishing touch on the painting – her final signature.

From Jen Evenhus's still life demonstration
From Jen Evenhus’s still life demonstration

To begin a work, Rita Kirkman likes to use a smooth surface for her underpainting, creating her own texture for her pastels. She explained this process as she demonstrated how to paint a “cute and fuzzy” rabbit from a photo reference.

From Rita Kirkman's animal painting demonstration
From Rita Kirkman’s animal painting demonstration

Bethany Fields said she often likes to paint a little bit bigger than what she plans to be her finished, framed painting. For example, in her demo painting of gorgeous clouds over the Palo Duro, Texas, landscape, she used a 12 x 12-inch surface, with plans to frame it as a 10 x 12, or even a 9 x 12.

From the sky / landscape painting demonstration with Bethany Fields
From the sky / landscape painting demonstration with Bethany Fields

“Hyperrealism takes patience,” said Michael Freeman, who joined us from New Zealand to share his complete process for painting a realistic scene in pastel.

From Michael Freeman's still life demonstration
From Michael Freeman’s still life demonstration


We were blown away by the demonstrations; Eric pointed out that one of the reasons we include such a variety every day is so that we can expand our horizons, since we might normally “skip” certain subjects or styles, for example. So while most didn’t follow along and draw with Michael Freeman, for example, everyone was able to see how a photorealistic still life can come together.

The night wrapped up with a fresh cocktail hour and paint-along, this time feature a portrait reference. See some of the moments from today when you follow #PastelLive on Instagram.

Remember, it’s not too late to join us for the remaining days, and replays are available! Simply visit now and register for several more days of personal instruction and live interactions with artists from all over the world.


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