View Full Version : South of Sedona

03-25-2006, 10:08 PM
This is one of three demos I did a few years back for a magazine article. It was not the one that was chosen for the article and I never did anything with it until now. I've lost my notes so I'll try to reconstruct a description of what my thinking was...(is?)....
It is from a photo I took of one of the "red rocks" heading south out of Sedona on AZ179. I think it is called "Steamboat Rock"

1. I did a detailed cartoon with charcoal on a 1/8" Masonite panel prepared with a gesso and pumice ground and fixed it with a matte fixative to prevent losing the drawing on the next step.

2. Next I applied an acrylic wash of pthalo violet and pthalo blue: both high staining colors even when applied thinly. Idea is to not cover drawing or the tooth provided by the pumice. I like to have a medium to dark value ground.


3. Using the photo as a guide I started applying pastel in the upper left and worked down and to the right -more or less . It is a good idea to tilt the painting surface slightly forward from the top to prevent the dust inevitably falling from the working area from contaminating the area just below. I also make a tray with newspaper and masking tape to set at the bottom to catch the falling dust. I use charcoal to strengthen the drawing so I don't lose it and to darken shadow areas. Charcoal is transparent to the color underneath.

4. I continue applying pastel down and across.

5. Continuing in the same manner the image slowly takes shape.


It is always magical to me to see the colors form an image over the darker ground color. It is as though someone else is making it happen and I'm just an observer.


South of Sedona
Pastel 20 x 30

Green foliage against red rocks - an exciting contrast of complimentary colors. Pastels really are the color of magic!

[Could have used more green ... ]

Shane Keene
03-25-2006, 10:12 PM
Wow. I love the way your rock formation pops against that gorgeous purple sky.

Piper Ballou
03-25-2006, 10:20 PM
I am so excited, you will not believe this but we drove through Sedona just today...holy cow
love the demo...it is spectacular..thanks so much, I loved to see how it developed.

Deborah Secor
03-25-2006, 10:30 PM
Hey Jim--thanks for the sentimental journey. I love your painting, but the journey was into the past via your web page and the links to the pix of fighter aircraft. I used to be married to the Navy during Vietnam--a fighter pilot, at that. Phantoms. So... :wink2:

Good grief, man--you are a major player! I'm blown away at your CV. So glad to have you here and I love this demo. I wish I could be so bold as to leave a wash alla prima and not noodle it to death with pastel layers. I used to enjoy watching how Handell did that--he'd lay down a something, even a swath of pastel--and just know it was all it needed, and never touch it again.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for saying:
Charcoal is transparent to the color underneath.YES! Finally someone who gets it. :D

I also agree with this:
It is always magical to me to see the colors form an image over the darker ground color. It is as though someone else is making it happen and I'm just an observer. I like using medium-dark to dark grounds, too, and often have my students start with that value because of exactly what you said.

I have a student who is struggling with a rock face right now. I'm just sending her a link to this page--a definite shortcut to having to explain it!

Thanks, Jim.


03-25-2006, 10:50 PM

Since I started with pastels and after seeing those rock formations that I always wanted to depict them. But untill now I haven't had any success - not even close.
It seems to me that it requires many hours to acomplish that kind of work.
Am I right ?
I just can't make that kind of stairs aspect that the rocks have.
Have you done that with pastel pencils, sticks or both ?
Your work is trully magnificent.



Jo Castillo
03-25-2006, 10:57 PM
Thank you for the memories. I love Sedona and the rocks and beautiful colors. Nicely done,

Paula Ford
03-25-2006, 11:02 PM
Thanks so much Jim for this wonderful demo! I loved seeing it come alive with these gorgeous colors!


03-26-2006, 02:12 AM
Thanks a lot for this demo. Very interesting. Love your mountains. Brings back happy memories of a lovely holiday we had down there. By the way I have rated this thread.

03-26-2006, 04:53 AM
Jim, this is breathtaking work!

I know what you man about the excitement of seeing the colours emerge from a dark background - it's as if the picture is taking on a life of its own.

I have never experienced the Sedona landscape, but this gorgeous painting seems to take me there. Thanks for sharing the demo!

03-26-2006, 05:04 AM
It is always magical to me to see the colors form an image over the darker ground color. It is as though someone else is making it happen and I'm just an observer.

That is exactly what I think too ..........

Gorgeous work........ love it

03-26-2006, 05:23 AM
wonderful demo and fabulous painting ... i'm inspired .... and curious ... how did you approach your cartoon? ... did you draw it freehand with the charcoal? ... or project the image to enlarge it and use the charcoal to capture that image? ... the detail is mind boggling ... thank you for posting it

03-26-2006, 08:16 AM
Thanks for the nice comments... I hope it might be of help.

I've been both musician and artist and find that artists are more helpful and generous to their struggling peers. Musicians seem to be more narcissistic. Not all of course...:evil: But that's another story..


Bhavana Vijay
03-26-2006, 11:08 AM
What a gorgeous painting!Thank you so much for your detailed demo and your thoughts at every stage.I just love watching it come to life.I have rated this thread also.

M Douglas
03-26-2006, 11:52 AM
Absolutely stunning, I loved the WIP.


03-26-2006, 12:56 PM
Wow! Wonderful work!:) Don't know what else to say, I love it;)

03-26-2006, 06:52 PM
Great demo Jim. Just enough words to help us understand what you are doing without being too "wordy". Are you sure you've not been a writer as well as musician and aritst? :thumbsup:

Airplanes - oh my, "we" were Air Force, and now Boeing... your airplane series is very good too.


03-26-2006, 06:57 PM
Ahhhh.....the looseness of a wash and the detailed gorgeousness of the red rock world. Just beautiful.

03-26-2006, 07:09 PM
I agree with Nicolous!!!! I'm definitely going to try this technique. I have
lots of pics from Sedona as I spent a week there in a workshop. Thanks
for the demo.


03-26-2006, 07:18 PM
I've long admired "Sandstone Majesty" by )uh oh here goes my colander mind again, uh, Dellinger, I think. This is just as admirable and I appreciate your sharing how you developed it. The purple ground works so great for this, at every stage it looks like shadow in the forground right until the finish. The detail, the richness, the textures, the layering of form, just splendid.

Merethe T
03-26-2006, 07:20 PM
Fantastic painting - so powerful and majestic! Thanks for the WIP,love it!

03-26-2006, 07:31 PM

TJ, it's from Biolchini.
It's this one, right ? :




03-26-2006, 07:32 PM
love it, its a wonder piece and thanks so very much for the demo. james

03-27-2006, 03:45 AM
Bless yu JOse, now I'll sleep tonight.

03-27-2006, 07:11 AM
Thanks all.. hope it helps, but it doesn't stand a candle to Greg's work. I first met Greg and saw some of his painting in 1988 in New Orleans. Not only is he a great artist he's also just a nice man.. He's now rep'ing for Mount Vision and I got a set of them from him when he was conducting a workshop in my studio a couple years ago. I like the MVs as well as any brand and better than most. They have a great set of greens.

BTW, I have a few photos that I during the workshop .... Where would be a good place to post them?


03-27-2006, 10:56 AM
This is fun to see the demo. How wonderful

Paula Ford
03-27-2006, 12:40 PM
You could start a thread in Pastel Talk and tell us about the workshop and include the photos there.