Vianna Szabo Fine Art

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Painting Air-The Illusion of Dimension


When I first began painting I was concerned about making stuff.  Teapot spouts and handles, eyes and noses, trees and houses.  My focus was on painting the things correctly then filling in the background around the stuff.

I have been fortunate to have some generous mentors in my life.  One artist friend would come over to critique my portraits saying “The figures look great but you are painting around them, you need to paint the air.” 

“Say what?”

She would sit with me while I fiddled with the background, shaking her head until one day I made a mark on the background where I dragged the pastel stick on its side up to the edge of the head, lifted it then continued the stroke on the other side.  I will always remember what my friend said to me next “That’s it, you did it!  If you touch what you just painted I will break your arm!”  She is a peaceful person so I took her remark seriously.  What was it I had done that was different than before?  I had painted “through” the portrait instead of around it and the 2 dimensional surface took on the illusion of depth.  After that I was hooked, dimension and air became the focus of my art.

Painting dimension creates an illusion of light and space.  It’s easy if you think of your painting like stage scenery where there is a foreground, a middle ground, and distance.  Each plane has its own quality but they work together to create a complete setting. The depth of illusion can be shallow like in a portrait with a backdrop, or the depth can be vast, such as portraying a landscape vista.  No matter the depth, addressing the following visual elements will help create atmosphere in your paintings.

Overlap – Overlapping objects in correct perspective immediately lets the viewer know that one thing is in front of the other.  I find it interesting that when people paint “things” they will often line them up on the same horizon line.

Size – as objects go back they get smaller. 

Value – distance brings values closer together

Color- Colors dull and lighten as they recede.  A highly saturated red/ yellow in the foreground will become a lighter and bluer red as it recedes.  Painting an equally saturated color in the background and foreground will place them on the same plane and flatten the depth in the painting.

Edges- the transition between color values are critical to creating the illusion of depth.  The eye will focus on areas where there is a big difference in adjoining values; this is called a hard edge.  The eye will pass over areas where the values are close together; this is referred to as a soft edge. This is why an artist must choose where to put the detail in their painting carefully. Artists tend to paint details with lots of sharp transitions.  If there are too many hard edges in the different depths of field the eye will jump around the painting and the sense of atmosphere will be destroyed. 

This is a short synopsis of the visual tools you can use to create depth.  Once you understand how to apply them effectively it becomes a skill that sticks with you, like learning to ride a bike.  When you see how to create dimension will never fuss over “stuff” again.

 

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The Zorn "ish" Palette


Close up of "Departure"

I love to experiment with limited palettes.  It feels like magic to take three primary colors and mix them together to create a rainbow of color harmony.  One of my favorites is the "Zorn" palette, from Swedish artist Anders Zorn.  He used yellow, red, black and white, to represent the primary colors. I have read different accounts of what the the exact pigments were but it is agreed they were dull.  No screaming vibrant colors to steal the scene.  The combination of dull colors are what I call an "ish" palette.  This means that the resulting paintings will not be brilliant in color, but be represented by red-ish, yellow-ish, and blue-ish tones. If you trust this and use the simple equation of primary + primary =secondary, and mix as you would with any limited palette you will end up with a subtle color harmony that is rich and nuanced.

A self portrait by Anders Zorn, showing his "ish" palette

 

Below is a demo of a recent painting using the "ish" palette.

 

Here is what to keep in mind to make a limited palette work for you.

1.To create a full spectrum of colors you need the three primaries, red, yellow, and blue.  I chose yellow ocher, venetian red, ivory black and titanium white serve as my blue. 

2.You need to know your palettes value extremes how light you can go and how dark you can go.  Again, black and white are my value extremes.

3.You need to know how saturated or bright you can go.  With this particular palette I will never mix a brilliant purple, but when I mix red, black and a touch of white I will get a convincing purple when compared to the other colors on the palette

4.Once you set the parameters of value and saturation, mark them on your painting then make every decision within those parameters.

 

 

  Here is the palette, ivory black, yellow ocher, and venetian red.  I added a touch of cadmium red medium into the hat at the end to give it a pop of color.

The light source was cool, so I blocked in the painting using a wash of venetian red and yellow ocher.  I plan to leave parts of the warm under-painting showing through the shadow areas of the finished work.

Here I mark the extremes of value and saturation.  The white of the scarf is as light as I will go, under the hat is as dark as I will go and the front of the red hat is the most saturated color.  Once this is in I can begin to build the painting by comparing all my decisions to these.

 

I construct the painting like a jigsaw puzzle seeing how the colors and values fit together.

 

The background is in and I check the composition by placing it in a frame.  The hands have not been painted yet and the warm under-painting makes them glow compared to the surrounding cool tones.

 

The painting is blocked in and I can begin to see what it will look like.  I had to stop for a while to teach a workshop, and was not sure I liked the brush work on the coat so I scraped it with a palette knife. When I resumed painting I spent alot of time on the transitional areas of light to dark.

  Close up of the hands in the finished painting. 

Close up of the finished painting.  I spend a lot of time working edges and sculpting the form.  At the end  I mixed a tiny bit of cadmium red medium into the venetian red to make the front of the hat brighter.

  The final painting, "Departure" 30x20 oil

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Look what viridian can do!


I am a sucker for a limted palette.  I love to try out combinations of "primary colors" to see how they relate to each other. I titled this painting "Viridian Blues"  because the only blue that was used in this painting was viridian.  Technically it is a green but without any other blues on the palette viridian became my all purpose blue color.  The other colors used were, yellow ocher pale, lemon yellow, cadmium red and permanent rose.  I began this painting on a toned canvas of permanent rose and indian yellow.  I wanted to leave bits of this tone showing to give a feeling of sunshine.

 

I found the value range by marking the lightest light (shirt) and the darkest dark (eyes).   Also found the midtone which will be the most prevalent value in this painting.  Once those decisions are made all colors are assinged to one of those values..  You have to really trust your decisions on the palette because all colors will look cool compared to the warm tones of the canvas.

 

 

I painted the figure since he was the focus of the painting.  Then made all the other decisions compared to his color values.

Working in puzzle fashion I placed one decision next to the other, building the painting from the figure outwards.

Ah, finally the bright undertone is mostly covered and I can start to see what the painting will look like. The viridian with permanent rose makes the most beautiful violet.  It can be bluer with more viridian and red violet with more permanent rose in the mixture.  The greens start to go in with mixtures of viridian and yellow ocher pale and an occasional bit of lemon yellow.

Finishing takes a long time.  I softened edges and played with texture using a palette knife.  Finally scumbled white into some of the shadows to give a sense of atmosphere.

 

Viridian Blue, 18x24  Oil

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Listen to the Muse


 

Every artist is touched with intuition.  It comes in the form of a voice, a feeling, a nudge that tells you to follow a path.  It is what led you to the brush and keeps you working at the easel. You must recognize it, respect it, and sometimes rein it in.

Your ability may be in composition, drawing, application, or any number of gifts.  My intuitive voice is literally a voice, I hear color.   It is not a voice outside my head (thank goodness!) but rather an inside voice that will announce a color that is needed to move the painting forward.  The voice is clear and demanding.   It is there when I am making my initial decisions on the palette, and counsels as I create the painting.   Patience is part of intuition and if the colors begin to lose direction it is time to sit quietly and listen.  I learned long ago to pay attention to that voice and heed what it says.  The voice quiets and there is a sense of relief when colors are in sync.

When I first began painting in pastel, I knew nothing about color and asked advice from my instructor about flesh tones.  His answer was “Look at what you see and put it down.”  This was as freeing as it was frustrating.  Staring at the model I saw colors that were not typical “flesh tones.”  There was a full spectrum of hues I did not expect. When I went to paint my blonde toddler I found his hair was a grayed green and not yellow.  The world was far richer in color that I had realized and I laid down all the vivid tones I saw with gusto.  Color was my muse but I lacked knowledge in design and value.   It wasn’t until I learned to control the colors within the value structure that I understood the power of color. I walk a fine line between technical proficiency and intuition.  Having the practical knowledge gives me the means to explore the intuitive voice

As an instructor, there is no greater reward than to watch someone else discover their voice.  Sometimes a talent is apparent from the start, often it emerges with diligence and trust. I have had countless conversations with students who are frozen at the easel, battling their intuition and what they think they should do.  The conversation starts as “I feel I should…. but I know ……”  My reply is to follow the feeling.   The worst outcome is that it doesn’t work.  That does not mean the intuition was wrong it may be a case that the student does not have the practical know-how to make it happen. The satisfaction of enlightenment comes from struggle.   I work with them to hone technical mastery so I can encourage them to follow when their voice comes calling.  

Become skilled in the foundation of painting so when the muse calls you will know how to listen.

 

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Finding the Painting in the Landscape


After a long hiatus from plein air painting I had an opportunity to spend the day testing out my new 30 piece Basic Landscape Pastel Set from Terry Ludwig.  There was a thick coating of snow on the ground and I went looking for a building with character or a gestural tree to paint. The forecast called for a sunny winter day and I had visions of using the colorful palette to capture blue shadows stretching across a sparkling white field.  What I got instead was a sky of leaden gray that was the exact same value as the snow.  These conditions are common for my part of Michigan and create a subtle beauty.  We do not have awe inspiring landforms or grand great lakes in my corner of the state.

 

After driving around searching for inspiration I was getting frustrated. The gray sky and snow did not excite me and areas I wanted to get to had not been plowed.   I decided the only way I was going to get a painting that day was to change my attitude.  Rather than search for the perfect landscape to paint I would find the painting in the landscape by using visual language to create the composition.  Visual language is identifying a composition by shape, value, edge, and color.  You can read more about visual language in a previous blog post.

 

I pulled into the parking lot of a local state park and decided whatever scene was in the driver’s window would be the painting.   There was a lake surrounded by oak trees and brush. The sky and snow offered contrast to the rhythm of the trees and understory.  Color-wise the landscape was ishy.  The brightest colors belonged to the muted reds of the frozen oak leaves. Yellowish grass and greenish trunks complemented the red. The hills behind the lake receded into a dusty blue.   All those gray tones challenged the bright primary colors of the set and meant I would have to do a lot of mixing with the limited palette.  However, once I identified the big light dark pattern and the colors that would fit into those values I could get down to work.  You can see the steps below.

The scene from my drivers window.  I was wimpy and painted from the front seat of my Honda Fit.  It was cramped but I stayed warm.

 

 

  The set up: the box of Terry Ludwig Landscape Pastels fits nicely into my Easy-L box.  I brought along 3 extra lights for the snow.

Once the light/dark pattern is established I focus on the edges and how the values and colors transition into each other.

 

  Here is the finished painting.  "Try Out" 6x8 Pastel.  It is for sale in the "Little Gems" portfolio on my website.

 

Plein air is a test of an artist’s resolve.  Often what I envision painting when I set out is different than what reality offers.   The goal of the plein air painter is to find the painting in the landscape.

 

 

I will be teaching a plein air workshop in Toledo, Ohio called Finding the Painting in the Landscape.   The workshop will be held in August of 2014 and is hosted by the Toledo Arts Club which is located on the grounds of the beautiful Toledo Botanical Gardens.  Details will be posted on my website soon!

 

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Holiday Wish List - Favorite Magazines



Favorite Magazines and Publications -These come in print and digital download with exception of Artists on Art, which comes as an online subscription or PDF.


Pastel Journal-If you are a pastel painter this magazine is for you.  It is the go-to publication for all things pastel.  It is published six times a year and features articles on artists, techniques, history, and materials.  There is a great listing of workshops and competitions in the back.  To order click here


Plein Air Magazine - Publisher Eric Rhodes is an avid plein air painter and Plein Air Magazine reflects his enthusiasm for the genre.
Published bi-monthly, Plein Air magazine is focused on landscape paintings by historical and contemporary artists, art collections, events and the process of creating plein air paintings.  It is beautifully designed, with rich reproductions and features the top artists and artworks from around the world.  I get both the print and digital form of this magazine.  The online version offers many extras and expands on the print form.  I get both, just because I like the feel of the magazine in my hands and  it is sooo comforting to curl up with and look at the beautiful photos.

To order click here


International Artist-  This is my favorite magazine when it comes to instructional articles on different mediums and subjects. They have regular features from artists that explain technique and concept in an easy and informative way.  Harley Brown is a favorite contributor and I keep a file of his articles.  If you are a member of the Portrait Society of America you will recieve a subscrition to this magazine as a membership benifit. If you are not a member and you want to subscribe click here 



Artists on Art- I Love this online magazine where Master Artists & connoisseurs share their ideas and techniques through in-depth, interactive articles. To subscribe click here

Hope you enjoyed reading these lists. Now I have an excuse to collect more art stuff to share with you next year!

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Holiday Wish List - Favorite DVD's, Websites, and an App


Holiday Favorites List - DVD's, Websites, and an App

When I was first learning to paint it was frustrating trying to find good information about techniques and concepts.  My learning was limited to what was in the local library and once I had read through every art book on the shelves, I thought, "Now what?"  Then  along came the internet and an excellent, affordable art education became available from the comfort of home.  Here are some of my recent favorite websites and downloads. Enjoy! 

To visit the websites below click on the highlighted lettering.


David Shelvino - I recently treated myself to two of David Shelvino's DVD downloads.  I love the painterly quality of his work and the freshness he brings to his subject matter.  His DVDs can be purchased and shipped as hard copies or downloaded.  I got "Painting Loosely" and "In the Studio."  David is an excellent teacher and has some unusual techniques for applying paint.  He also offers shorter tutorials on drawing and using Photoshop.  A nice feature of his website is all the previews of his DVDs.

 
Your Elusive Creative Genius  by Elizabeth Gilbert - Ted Talks
This is one of my all time favorite Ted Talks! Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses, and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius. It's a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk. Ted Talks are free.


New Masters Academy - The internet is an amazing source of fine art education if you know where to look.   One of the newer offerings is New Masters AcademyTaught by some of the top artists and instructors in the U.S., including my drawing hero, Glenn Vilppu, the Academy builds on traditional skills of drawing, painting, and sculpture.  This is a rich resource of information and education offered at a very reasonable monthly price of $19.00 to $29.00 dollars a month depending on which level of subscription you choose.  They offer a 7 day free trial for those of you who would like to try it out.



Peggi Kroll Roberts - Peggi Kroll Roberts' paintings are about simplicity and light.  She has created a series of lessons on DVDs that are simple and easy to follow.  Here is the description from her website: You’re invited into the art studio of Peggi Kroll Roberts, painter of still lifes and figures from live models. Watch Peggi create light-filled paintings through informative demonstrations designed to engage viewers and inspire artists at all levels. Her exercises, condensed to one idea at a time, simplify the learning process creating interesting challenges and charming results. Peggi's instructional videos are available on DVDs or by Video on Demand.

 
AccuView  

Have you ever finished a painting and then realized it would be sooo much better if  the whole design had been moved an inch to the left?  Struggle no more!  I recently purchased an app called AccuView.   It is the ultimate viewfinder and a great tool for composition.  To use AccuView, open the app, take a photo with your phone then choose to view it in color or black and white.  You can impose different canvas sizes and grids on the photograph then move the photo within the selected canvas until you get the composition you want.  I recently used this App to design my still life.  My original thought was to include everything in the set up in a horizontal composition but after using AccuView I selected this vertical composition and am very happy with it! AccuView is an app on my iphone but it can be downloaded into PCs and Macs.
Cost: $1.99 
  

The set up                                                                             The final composition

  
The lay in                                                   The finished painting
Next Week's List - Favorite Magazines

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When a Portrait is More than a Likeness


I was asked by Freedom 58 Project to create a portrait of someone who had been freed from human trafficking. Robert Swenson, who co-founded the organization with his wife, contacted me saying that he was looking for portrait artists whose work he admired and asking if they would paint a portrait of someone who had been freed from slavery.  The portraits will be part of a traveling exhibition used to inform the public not only about the injustice of slavery, but also about the hope for those who break its bonds.

I was sent several photographs and chose to paint a young woman from Thailand.  I did not know her story yet or what conditions she lived under.  An 11x14 canvas arrived along with an 8x10 photograph of a young woman, with a shy smile, wearing a white scarf and standing in a building.  In her hand was part of a card granting her citizenship.  The reference was not the best for painting but that allowed me to make up my own interpretation of hope for her.  I wanted bright colors and a sense of sunlight and open sky.  I dissolved part of the building she is standing in so it could create shelter but then open up to the outdoors.   Any plane of her that was facing upward I colored with the blue sky and the downward planes reflected her shirt and the bright green grass.  As an artist I chose to paint her and her future bright and full of sunlight.

Along with the photo and the canvas was a book called, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.  It is a powerful book that is both heartbreaking and hopeful as it follows the plight of women around the world who have escaped bondage and found new lives filled with respect and love. 

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Holiday Wish List - Favorite Books

 
Now for the Book List. 

     Everyone has their weakness and mine is art books.  If I win a prize I buy an art book. If I'm feeling low, a new art book is sure to make me happy.  Teaching has been the perfect excuse to give into my book jones. I will even design a new workshop to justify a purchase.

     They have been a surprisingly good investment.  A book I was going to put on this list, was purchased five years ago for $30.00.  It is now out of stock and in demand and my $30.00 purchase sells for $170.00 (I own two copies!).  That said, this year I made sure the books are all available (at least at the time I'm writing this) and reasonably priced.  Most of them can be bought on Amazon.com with exception of the self published books by Richard Schmid.  All the books have links to where they are sold.

     Enjoy!

Anders Zorn: A European Artist Seduces America.
By Oliver Tostman




     Finally a book on Anders Zorn written in English!   In 2013 two US museums held exhibitions of his work and books were published to coincide with them.  The one listed here is from the show at the Gardner Museum in Boston last spring.   If you are not familiar with Ander Zorn, he was a Swedish artist who painted from 1880 to 1920.  Like Sargent and Soralla, he was traditionally trained and like them he expanded his painting to capturing the figure in outdoor settings.  What is unusual about his work is that he used a limited palette of three primary colors plus white to make the majority of his paintings.   This is a nice introduction to this Swedish artist who is gaining long deserved fame in this country.

     The other exhibit on Zorn is currently showing in San Francisco.   There is a book that goes along with it and is receiving rave reviews.  Santa, if you are reading this please put it on your list for me?  That one is also available on Amazon.

 
  

The self portrait on the left shows Zorn with his limited palette. The painting on the right shows his skill at painting figures out-of-doors.

Price: $35.84  To purchase this book click here

Painting More Than The Eye Can See. 
By Robert Wade




     I have owned this book for 30 years and still find Robert Wade’s teachings to be timely and engaging.

     Wade is a great interpreter.  He can take a scene before him and completely change the elements to reflect a different time of day or weather condition.  He can do this because he understands light.  Wade explains in a simple straightforward manner how artists can learn to control the light to create the work they want.

Even though this is a watercolor book I find the concept applies to all mediums and subject matter.
Prices vary from $38.00 to $11.00 depending on format and condition.
To purchase this book click here

The War of Art:

Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

By Steven Pressfield and Shawn Coyne 

 


     This is a powerful book for combating creative resistance for all artists. What do I mean by resistance? Ever have one of those days where you find every excuse to do something else besides paint (write, sing, dance, or whatever creative endeavor calls to you), even though it is what you long to do?

     This is a poetic book on the power of resistance and how to break it.  There is also an interesting section in the back on the artist’s muse.

     This is my go-to read when I feel like procrastinating or am feeling a lack of inspiration.

Price:$9.38 paperback on Amazon.   To purchase click here

 

ALLA PRIMA II ~ Expanded Edition

Everything I Know About Painting, and More
      By Richard Schmid


      I own the original ALLA PRIMA, and consider it my one "must have" art book.

Schmid has updated ALLA PRIMA and it is currently for sale on his site.  Below is his description of the updated version:


For fifteen years, the original edition of ALLA PRIMA has been considered one of the most comprehensive art instruction books on the market and the standard in classical art education both in the United States and abroad. Now, it's even better. Alla Prima II is over a third larger overall, with over 328 pages, and 262 images of paintings, photos, step-by-step sequences, diagrams and bibliography. Plus, ALLA PRIMA II includes a comprehensive index for convenience. 

 

Price:$125.00 Hardcover,  $85.00 Softcover.  To order click here 

 


Richard Schmid, The Landscapes

 

                                           

     I have been lent this book on several occasions and always find it inspiring.   This is not an instructional book like ALLA PRIMA but it is a collection of Schmid's beautiful landscapes.   Here is a description from his website:


In this landmark, large format book, Richard Schmid not only takes us to the many places he has painted, but also shares with us the fifty year path he traveled from youthful painter to seasoned artist. This is the visual tale of an artist and his lifelong romance with the colors and light of our earth. With delightfully candid narrative and over 300 full color images, Richard reveals what it is like to go out and capture life as it is happening. Discover how landscape painting is unlike any other form of art; and that artistic skill is only one of the many abilities demanded.

Price:$135.00 for hardcover  $75.00 for softcover 

Both books can be ordered from  Richard Schmid.com

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Holiday Wish List - Favorite Materials

So many of you told me how much you liked the favorite books list that I published in my previous newsletters and asked if I would do it again.  I am happy to, and just in time for the holidays!  This year I will be sending out a  newsletter for the next four weeks featuring different lists. There will be one for books, one for materials, one for DVDs and downloads, and one for publications.   This first one is for materials.  I will also post the list on my blog in case you want to show someone your holiday wish list.... 

Favorite Materials list

Rosemary Brushes    
I love theseRosemary Brushes are the best brushes I have ever used, especially the Ivory Synthetic White Bristle Brushes.  They have a great "spring" to them, pick up a good amount of paint, and hold a sharp edge even after a year of painting. A few years ago I heard artists such Richard Schmid and David Leffel praising them and thought they must be expensive but they are not!  The largest size Ivory synthetic Flat sells for $ 14.20.  That is cheaper than any other "premium" brush.  The mongoose brushes are another great buy and can lay down loads of paint in a single swipe.  They are made in England and not sold through the big art supply stores. You can purchase them in the U.S. from Legacy Art Products


 Arches Oil Paper
 This is my new favorite surface to work on in oils!  You can get an array of different effects painting on this paper. An oil wash looks like watercolor and combining that with thick opaque paint makes application exciting.
Unlike other papers, it requires no preliminary preparation. This 140 lb. paper features a powerful and efficient oil barrier that absorbs water, solvents and binders evenly while allowing the paint and pigment to remain on the surface.
This revolutionary surface is essential for any professional oil painter looking to capture their oil painting on paper all while saving time. Professional Oil painters as well as Oil painting students will love the convenience and ease of use that this art paper offers. 

This paper can be purchased at most art supply stores and is priced around $15.00 for a 12 pack of 9x12 sheets.  There are different size packs and they are also sold in large sheets with deckle edges like watercolor paper.



Terry Ludwig Pastels -These are my favorite pastels!  The range in color and value exceeds other pastels and the shape allows me to make strokes similar to using a brush.  They are highly pigmented and lay down a lot of color with very little pressure.  At the International Pastel Societies Conference his booth is refered to as "the candy store."  Here is the description from the Terry Ludwig Pastel Website:
Frustrated with the lack of color options available and few choices for very soft pastels, Terry Ludwig began experimenting with formulas for making his own pastels in 1995. His goal was to create a vast array of color in pastels that were uniformly soft across all densities of hue. The results were more than 500 intense colors, some of which are unavailable elsewhere, in a unique square pastel.
Each pastel is crafted with a broad range of pigments by hand with minimal natural binders. This renders a highly concentrated, velvety pastels. The square shape delivers thick, broad strokes or thin, precise lines where necessary.
You can purchase sets or open stock from his websiteTerryLudwig.com  If you are new to his pastels Isuggest a set of the darks and lights to extend the value range of your pastels.
Or
I sell two sets of Terry Ludwig pastels with my name on them.  One is a portrait set and one is a still life set.   There are 30 pastels in each set and each one features a full value range and cools and warms of the primary and secondary colors.  I often paint with these sets exclusively.  Blue was painted using only the pastels in the portrait set. Green Apple Shine was painted using only the still life set.

Green Apple Shine painted with the Terry Ludwig still life set!


Holiday special - Get an autographed box of pastels on sale!
If you would like a personalized message, let me know!


Buy one 10% off retail price  $129.00 +tax
Buy two at 20% off retail price $120.00 each +tax


Order online using Paypal by clicking here or contact me directly by email at vszabo@viannaszabo.com.  Please put "Pastels" in the subject line.



  Portrait Set

Still LIfe Set

These pastels are handmade, please allow 2 weeks for delivery. 

Sanded Paper-I like to use a sanded paper as my pastel surface.  Sanded paper is the most versitale surface for pastels.  I can paint a wash, glaze endless layers, or grind the pastel into the surface for a thick application.  My two favorite surfaces are Kitty Wallis paper and U-Art 400 grit.  Wallis Paper is my preferred surface.  The pure white paper shows through under a wash and gives an effect of watercolor painting.  Unfortunately it is hard to come by and is often out of stock.  An excellent substitute is U-Art 400 grit.  It takes washes and layering as well as Wallis does.  The color is a soft beige but it still works well with washes.  The benifit of the sanded paper is that if you do not like your painting you can brush off the surface and start again!  Both papers can be purchased at online art supply stores. An online store that features everything a pastel painter could desire is Dakota Pastels.



 
Scotts Shop Towels- Paper towels are an essential piece of my painting equipment.  I use them in to clean my brushes and pastels between strokes.  I also use them when painting with pastel to soften edges and drag light areas into dark with out disturbing the drawing ( I will post a demo of this technique on my blog).   I used to be a Viva fan but found I was using too many paper towels.  These towels are so tough I only use a couple during a painting session and they give me a sharp edge needed for"dragging" my pastels.

They can be purchased at Home Depot or other department stores.

Plumb Line and small level - A must have for those of us who can't draw a straight line!  My plumb line is made out of dental floss tied to a washer and my level was purchased at local hardware store.  Read about how I use them in my blog called Stay Straight and Keep Level.



Jewell Box Classic Viewfinder  - I don't own this (yet)  but I will soon!  A viewfinder is a must have when I am working from life and this one has all the bells and whistles, It adjuts so your view matches your canvas size. It also has a grid for superimposing on your view as well as a reducing glass to give a wide angle of the landscape.  You can purchase this at Judson Art Outfitters for $16.87  This would be a nice present for a painting buddy!

Watch a video of how to use the viewfinder at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2mtAUJBgn8 

Next Weeks List-Favorite Books!

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