Tag Archives: modern pastel painting – landscape

Thirty-in-Thirty: Day Twenty Four

Where the Deer Bed Down ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow - 16 inches x 16 inches, Pastel on Paper

Where the Deer Bed Down ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 16″ x 16″, Pastel on Paper

Still very cold in the hills of southern Vermont. Late this morning I walked out to the forest edge and scattered food for wild turkey in the protected hemlock stand. I notice deer have been bedding down here, beneath the low, evergreen boughs…
Where the Deer Bed Down ⓒ 2013 Michaela HarlowWhere the Deer Bed Down ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 16″ x 16″, Pastel on Paper

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Thirty-in-Thirty: Day Twenty Three

Southeasterly Along the Crest ⓒ Michaela Harlow - 16 inches x 16 inches - Pastel on Paper

Southeasterly Along the Crest ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 16″ x 16″, Pastel on Paper

Although the sun rose warm this morning, peachy glow illuminating violet-hued trees along the southeast ridge line, my thermometer told a different story at daybreak: -10 degrees fahrenheit. That’s cold under any circumstances, but add a steady northwest wind to the mix and by noontime even the brilliant sunlight couldn’t improve the downright inhospitable conditions outside. Purple finches, chickadees and sparrows huddle on the back terrace, and squirrels skitter about as they quickly snatch a nut and dive back to nooks in the woodpile.

In addition to the regular flock of wild turkey, I spotted an ermine this morning —white coat prematurely morphed back to brown— and an unidentified, grey-white owl gliding between hemlock trees. It’s amazing to see anything moving in this cold, and yet the forest is lively as ever.

Southeasterly Along the Crest ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow - 16 x 16 Inches - Pastel on PaperSoutheasterly Along the Crest ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 16″ x 16″, Pastel on Paper

My satellite service was down most of the morning and into the early afternoon. Whenever this happens, I realize how dependent I am upon the internet for everything from news and weather to much needed contact with friends, family and the rest of the outside world.

However, my internet provider’s downtime left me with little distraction; pushing me into the studio extra early this morning. And it’s not altogether bad to disconnect from everything, once in awhile, now is it?

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Thirty-in-Thirty: Day Twenty Two

Rattled Birch ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow - 15 x15 - Pastel & Pencil on Paper

Rattled Birch ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 16″ x 16″, Pastel & Pencil on Paper

One of the many things that thirty-in-thirty accomplishes for me is that it forces me to stop seeking perfection in my work. When I’m focused on doing —the process of painting and drawing— and not on expectations, I lose myself. Letting go of my ego —pre-conceived ideas and anticipated outcome— and returning to a sense of joy is the most important part of this exercise. I rediscover why I paint: I paint because it feels good.

Rattled Birch ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow

Rattled Birch ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 16″ x 16″, Pastel & Pencil on Paper

It’s surprising to me, that this rigorous work schedule and focused discipline can bring freedom and happiness —but in my experience, this is absolutely true. The less I think about going into the studio —torturing myself with self criticisms, worrying about whether or not my work is good, or if I am growing as an artist— the happier I am to go into the studio and just work. Just work. Don’t over-think, Michaela. Just work. Let your mind go and the rest will follow. And that is exactly what happens. I just begin to work each day and eventually, even on the days when my mind is a bit noisy, I find my zone —my flow— and suddenly I am filled with happiness. The result of this crazy, daily exercise is that I force myself to paint for the sake of painting itself; to just do it. And lo and behold, all of the obstacles fall away, and I find that work feels like play again.

How awesome is that?

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Thirty-in-Thirty: Day Twenty One

Winter Wind ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow

Winter Wind ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 16″ x 16″ – Pastel & Pencil on Paper

Today was very cold and blustery, but the sun came out, illuminating swirling clouds of fine snow. The landscape looks soft, in spite of the biting conditions outside my door (beautiful to look at, but not so fun to walk in). I spent most of my day indoors, working in the studio.

I finished this piece early in the afternoon and continued work on an oil painting. Next month I will be focusing on larger works in oil on panel, and reducing my studio time and blog posts to three or perhaps four per week. I feel like I’m ready to jump off the paper.

Winter Wind Winter Wind ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow - Pastel & Pencil on Paper (matted)

Winter Wind ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 16″ x 16″ – Pastel & Pencil on Paper (matting a few to check fits)

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