For a long time I struggled with creating believable shadows and light using oil pastels (OPs), few credible resources exist for Op artists. I wanted a source with easy to understand explanations and demonstrations for painting sunlight and shadows. I saw a lot of books written on the topic, with good intention, but none caught my attention as immediate as this book. It’s author, Maggie Price, is a soft pastel artist known for her illustrious landscapes.
Outside of a meaty introduction to soft pastels, Maggie limited the book to only four chapters: The basic principles of light and color; observing the color of light; creating realistic shadows; and painting lifelike reflections. Not only did she use her own paintings as the basis of explanation in the book, but Maggie introduced five successful soft pastel artists who brought their own techniques to achieve the effects of sunlight and shadow within in their portfolio of work.
It’s not so much about painting with soft pastels, as her objective is to help artists understand how to describe form using color, light and shadow. This book taught me a lot. For example I observe nature very differently now depending on the time of day, year, aerial perspective and weather; I no longer just use whites and blacks for expressing light or darkness, these two are achieved using a spectrum of colors; recognizing color temperatures during the day has taken on a whole new meaning; shadows are exciting elements to paint in my work – it’s fun discovering their colors; and finally water and reflections have become interesting (and my favorite) subjects that end up pulling me into my paintings.
This book has become a staple in my studio library that I reference whenever I find myself struggling to create a certain effect in a painting. I love this book!
Below is a pastel that I painted following one of the demonstrations in the book called, Come this Way. This is not contained in my archives since it was painted for learning only.