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Pastel Paintings

Soft pastels have a long and illustrious history in art. They are lushly pigmented and deeply responsive, delivering immediacy, spontaneity, and gusto. Sadly, the paintings are fragile, requiring careful handling and framing. But the sheer joy of applying and layering them, creating tapestries of color, is worth the drawbacks. Learning their full potential may be a lifetime’s work.


Cardinals In January

"Cardinals in January" 2023- Pastel on sanded paper 9 x 11

It was 20 degrees in Asheville when I pulled out my winter photos from Cincinnati. These cardinals had distributed themselves in a lovely composition around the cherry tree in our back yard.


"Sunflower" 2023- Pastel on Mi Teintes paper, 8 x 10

Sunflowers and summer suggest hot- hence the chili pepper red background. 

"Purple Sky" 2023- Pastel on sanded paper 12 x 16

Sometimes less is more. This simple study in pan pastels used complementary colors to softly recall a moody afternoon.

"Sedona Memory" 2023- Pastel on sanded paper 8 x 10

Sedona is a magical place, one of our favorite vacation spots. Chamisa bushes against the red rock formations provided a delicious palette.

"Serene afternoon" 2023- Pastel on sanded paper 10 x 13

It can be a challenge to paint summer: all that green! The coral clouds reflected in the water danced with the greens, energizing both.

"Cathedral" 2023- Pastel on sanded paper 11 x 14

Autumn is my favorite season and trees my favorite subject. This path dappled with sunlight reminded me of the central aisle in a cathedral.

"Peony" 2023 - Pastel on sanded paper 8 x 10

I love the contrast of fragile peony petals, the glass vase, and the old leather books. Pastel is amazing for creating the illusion of texture.

"Fall in Brasstown" 2023; pastel on sanded paper 24 x 24

My husband and I took classes at the John C Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. The campus and surrounding areas were resplendent in their fall colors.

"Little Bradley Falls" 2023 - Pastel on sanded paper 10 x 13

The Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina are rich in waterfalls. This is Little Bradley Falls near Saluda, an accessible and breathtaking site.

Beach Grasses

"Beach Grasses" 2023 - Pastel on Sanded Paper 9 x 12

We visited St. Petersburg FL in March. While my husband sailed, I visited the beach and soaked up inspiration for  future paintings. The grit of pastel paper lends itself to depicting sand and grass.

"Finale" 2024 - Pastel on suede board 12 x 16

I have been applying pastel to suede board, primarily for tonalist landscapes. Suede cradles the pigments, allowing colors to layer without losing integrity; the surface resists detail, providing soft edges that appear dreamy. 

"For Richard McKinley" 2024 - Pastel on sanded paper 9 x 11

I was delighted to find a book of inspiring lessons in pastel painting by landscape artist Richard McKinley. This is a tribute to one of his works.