This past summer, my husband and I made a big Anniversary vacation trip out to California. We took 2 weeks, rented a car and proceeded to sightsee LA, Hollywood, Santa Barbara, up to Santa Cruz, Pismo Beach and then up to Yosemite. From there we  ended our trip in San Francisco. Such beautiful drives and fun stopovers. Driving over 700 miles through the California landscape, I took lots of photos out the passenger window.

I am not sure where I was when I took this shot but was pleased when I saw the possibilities of a painting It contained. The road just lends itself for the perfect entryway into the painting. Working with one point prospective the eye naturally leads up to the high horizon emphasized by the trees flanked on either side.

One of the big lessons I learned in painting is that you don’t paint a particular object, you paint shapes. So, while painting the cars, I didn’t think of them as cars. I thought of them as just shapes of light and dark. By breaking down whatever you paint into shapes simplifies the process. It makes it that much easier to paint and helps make it look realistic. The background cars are just tiny little funky shapes but our brains read them as cars.

My set up, the photo reference on the IPad and printed photo, and my value study


Underpainting in pastel

This painting was done on UArt sanded paper. By establishing a strong foundation in pastel (and a little watercolor) of a series of shapes, shapes of trees, shapes of the road, shapes of cars, etc. I was then able to add color using pastel to define the light and shadow and interpret the scene in a painterly fashion.

On the Road, Again
12 x 14 pastels

One thought on “On the Road, Again

  1. I’ve never seen pastel paintings like yours Nancy. Truly beautiful and definitely impressionistic with the painterly feel throughout. A loose watercolor underpainting is a fabulous start. I’ve been an oil painter and do watercolor sketches but never tried pastels. Most pastel paintings seem too bright and garish but I love the subtle look in your paintings. I am definitely going to give it a try. Please subscribe me to your blog. Thank you for the inspiration and congratulations on your feature in Plein Air magazine.
    Sincerely, Darryl Yee

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *