Below the Surface


“Rock Steady” (pastel, 8 x 10 in.) by Lisa Skelly

“I’m inspired by coastal seascapes and the energy of the ocean crashing against the rocks along the shore,” says Lisa Skelly. “Everything about it is exhilarating. The colors of deep water versus shallow water where you have lighter colors and transparency is breathtaking. The patterns in the surf with kelp, sand, and rocks below the surface make for ideal conditions to design a compelling composition through which I can lead the observer to my chosen focal point. I constantly challenge myself to design better and more interesting paintings that transport the viewer to escape to the seaside with me.

“My challenge in this piece was to thoughtfully design the water movement below the rocks and still have the energy you expect to see. It was also important for me to have areas where your eyes can rest and where there are areas of peacefulness beyond the high drama of crashing surf.

“My process of creating dynamic seascapes in pastel is to start with a featherlight touch so that I don’t fill up the tooth of my Pastelbord. I usually start with my darkest darks and save the magic of the lightest sparkles of splashing surf for last. There needs to be enough darks to really make the whitest parts of the surf stand apart.”

“Rock Steady” won Best Plein Air Pastel in the October 2023 PleinAir Salon art competition.


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