Tag Archives: modern pastel painting

Stark Mountain

Stark_Mountain_Michaela_Harlow_www.michaelaharlow.comStark Mountain, 2014 – Michaela Harlow – Pastel on Cold Press, Deckle-Edge Paper, 20″ x 16″ 

Some of New England’s backroads have surprisingly accurate names. More a twisting, ragged trail than a meandering country drive, Stark Mountain Road seems particularly well defined on a cold, November day. Sharp, ledgy outcrop meets boney tree line against grey sky, bramble and biting wind.

I broke with my series today, inspired by a wintry drive.

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Two for Tuesday & the Beauty of Hemlock

windblown_hemlock_2014:copyright_michaela_harlow:michaelaharlow.com:all_rights_reserved Windblown Hemlock, 2014 – Michaela Harlow – pastel on paper (12″ x 12″ on 17″ x 14″ paper)

It was good to have a bit of time away from the studio these past few days; a mid-day walk along partially-frozen Barton Cove, lunch with an artist friend, unhurried hours spent in the hardware store to restock supplies and browse new arrivals at the florist’s shop, and of course, long hikes in my forest.

I returned to the studio on Monday morning feeling recharged and inspired by time in my enchanted woodland. Hemlock trees have been on my mind lately. This favorite native conifer, the Canandian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), is the dominant species in my forest, and has inspired much of my work. These gorgeous blue-green trees provide food and habitat for wild inhabitants of the northeastern forest. Hemlock posts and beams also form the framework of my home studio, providing me with warmth and shelter (timbers felled to clear this site were used to create my living and working space). Usually my work focuses on Tsuga remnants. Brown cones, blue-green needles, orange seed casings, and red-brown twigs forming colorful patterns as hemlock debris scatters in wind and settles to the mossy forest floor in vernal pools. When these pools freeze, they fascinate this artist; resulting in hours of entertainment and inspiration for paintings. At the moment I am fascinated by their green, conical form in the winter landscape; both obscured by wind-blown snow and reflected in ice-pools.

reflected_hemlock_2014:copyright_michaela_harlow:michaelaharlow.com:all_rights_reserved Reflected Hemlock, 2014 – Michaela Harlow – pastel on paper (12″ x 12″ on 17″ x 14″ paper)

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Thirty-in-Thirty: Day Eleven . . .

Where the Wind Took Them II ⓒ 2013 Michaela HarlowWhere the Wind Took Them ll ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow 17″ x 14″, Pastel, Charcoal & Pencil on Paper

A very grey morning today, and a very early start. After a break yesterday evening, I returned to the studio and started work on a second piece. I was thinking about it when I woke up, so I returned to the studio before first light. It’s such a luxury to work this way; time I can only afford in winter.

Freezing rain coated the mountaintop overnight. Now that light is penetrating the low clouds, I see that although the ice is melting, pine trees are still drooping beneath the weight. Outside, the only sound I hear is dripping water and the clucking of wild turkey.

where the wind took them - day eleven ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow

Where the Wind Took Them ll ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow 17″ x 14″, Pastel, Charcoal & Pencil on Paper

I’m starting on another piece now, but I need to stop work earlier than usual today, so today’s additional efforts will form the base for tomorrow’s work. I dreamt of color —lots of it. Neutral tones —rust, brown, blonde, umber, grey and white— dominate the outside world right now. Winter is all about light and shadow, line and geometry; form, pattern and texture. When I’m out walking or driving, and I stumble upon color —a tangle of purple brambles, colorful twigs, bright green moss or brilliant orange lichen— it really stands out. I noticed this particularly when I am out flying and light illuminates tree tops, barns, stubbly fields; momentarily lighting them up in a blaze of color.

I posted photos from my late afternoon flight over the valley on my other blog, The Gardener’s Eden, here.

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Thirty-in-Thirty: Day Ten . . .

Where the Wind Took Them, I ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow

Where the Wind Took Them ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 17″ x 14″,  Pastel, Charcoal & Pencil on Paper

Electricity. Light. A good night’s sleep. Work is going much easier today . . .

Wind and water are constantly moving things around in the natural world. I notice this more in winter. Perhaps it’s the snow-white canvas? I also notice the tracks of animals and fallen objects, like feathers.

I move things around when I work; sometimes for convenience and sometimes for a change in perspective. In the end, I usually find myself back at the beginning.

day ten

I think that I spun this piece around four times in total. I needed to position myself and the paper in different angles to capture the frozen motion I observed when I stumbled upon this group of seed pods in ice-glazed meltwater.

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