A Field of Indian Paintbrushes, oil pastel painting

Several weeks ago we went down to Ennis to see the Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes, driving down some of the narrow trail roads to see the fields we came across one that could have been the subject for many of the French Impressionist painters ~ and who knew, in the middle of Texas!

A Field of Indian Paintbrushes, (14×11) is an oil pastel painting done on a gesso-prepared hardboard.  The scene captured my attention immediately, as picturesque as one could imagine I knew this would be my first oil pastel painting after taking a long hiatus from the medium.  I took several photographs of the area, each one a painting in itself.   The field had mostly Indian Paintbrushes with a few Bluebonnets showing up here and there in the foreground.

The painting was started with a warm acrylic underpainting done in a combination of cadmium red light and yellow ochre for the sky and field, for the tree a bit of dioxazine purple was added.  I was hoping that some of the colors would peek through under the oil pastel paints – I was not disappointed.  It took a little while to get used to painting with color and oil pastels (the sticky wetness, for spreading, making marks, scratching and blending), but in no time it all started coming back.  I may try my hand at this particular scene again without the underpainting for a different overall feel to the scene.

Thanks for checking in ~ was great painting with color again!  Click onto the image for a larger view.

A Field of Indian Paintbrushes



About Mary

Oil Pastelist
This entry was posted in About Oil Pastels, OPs New Paintings and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

85 Responses to A Field of Indian Paintbrushes, oil pastel painting

  1. Nia Anglade says:


  2. art ana pj says:

    such a beauty, Mary! I love your oil pastel paintings so I’m so happy to see them again ❤

  3. Leyla says:

    Beautiful colors ❤

  4. Another nice painting Mary! It is good to see you working in color again! ~Rita

  5. Another beautiful work of art, Mary. Well done.

  6. Resa says:

    Beautiful, Mary!

  7. Heartafire says:

    I liken this to a Monet. Dreamy abstract of a hazy meadow. The reds pop above the encroachment of blue. It is lovely.

  8. Another great one from you! I really like the warmth of the color and the special light…

  9. Stunning! I love Indian Paintbrushes, which bloom much later here in our part of the world.

    This is a lovely and tranquil scene. Did you have an outdoor picnic on this trip? What a beautiful place for it.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Ruth, thanks so much and glad you enjoyed the Indian Paintbrushes – they were brilliant this year. Sorry to say no outdoor picnic, we were too busy trying to cover a lot of territory in a short period of time. Was a wonderful day though ~

  10. Beautiful painting….I have been interested in oil pastels but they never look as good as what you do! You bring the medium to a whole new level! I am so glad that I ran into your blog.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Margaret, very nice to meet you. Appreciate your kind thoughts and compliment – oil pastels is a great medium, so often misunderstood and not recognized for the results that can be produced.

      • I have already been planning my attack….get a small set and go from there. 🙂 soft pastels affect me especially in the art room, been thinking about this for a long time. Not sure if I will ever stop using them but would like to cut down my exposure to them.

        • Mary says:

          I understand, I tried soft pastels as my first painting medium and it took two months of coughing and sneezing, to walk away from them. If you try oil pastels get artist quality (student quality has a lot of wax and can be difficult to move around). I have a couple of posts about the medium under categories of posts, that might help in selecting some brands. You’ll really enjoy the freedom of painting with OPs.

          • I always go with artist quality in all that I do 🙂 so I’m good there. I will check out your posts. With soft pastels my issue is mainly a numbing which I wonder about. I already have a tremor and other odd symptoms that I am thinking is from the soft pastel. Hopefully the oil pastel will be a win-win. 🙂

  11. karenford71 says:

    A beautiful painting Mary! I love the impressionists.

  12. restlessjo says:

    It’s a beautiful image Mary. I hadn’t heard of Indian Paintbrushes but it’s not hard to see where the name comes from x

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much Jo. The land was ablaze with these beautiful flowers, you would have captured some awesome scenes with your lens.

  13. Hi Mary. This is an a gorgeous piece. The colors are so intense. Very well done.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Kerry, great to see you. Thanks very much – I was a little apprehensive once the warm underpainting went down, but overall worked out with the blue sky and bluebonnets cooling it off a bit.

  14. timkeen40 says:

    I would love to sit under that tree and scribble in my notebook (or my laptop). Great work.


    • Mary says:

      Thanks very much Tim, so glad you enjoyed the painting. Scenes like this always inspire, it was a real gem we found while driving around.

  15. ladyfi says:

    What a lovely painting!

  16. What a beautiful painting. If I had your skills, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night I’d be so excited. 🙂

  17. farbvielfalt says:

    I always enjoy your oil pastels and I love underpaintings! The warm glow of your underpainting gives such an amazing atmosphere, really well done!

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much Alexandra – the underpainting really added to the atmosphere that I was hoping to achieve in this painting. Thanks for noticing and commenting.

  18. Wow! This painting has a magical quality, as it seems to glow from within! Wonderful, Mary! I love the detail you capture and the warmth emanating from the foreground. Well done! Nice to see you posting your work again!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Laura for your beautiful thoughts on this painting. The entire Town of Ennis had a magical quality about it this year with the awesome fields of wildflowers – difficult not to fall in love with gorgeous color everywhere you looked. Thoroughly enjoyed working the foreground with thick paint and a painters knife. Thanks again – hope you have a wonderful week.

  19. cmartzloff says:

    Mary, this is spectacular. As I was reading your experience I was growing in anticipation of seeing what you described and am blown away by the beauty of it and your interpretation. Just beautiful!!! Thank you for sharing it.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Catherine, that you so much for your generous and kind comment. You would have loved this particular field of flowers, the colors were magnificent this year – I can just imagine the painting you would have produce from something so beautiful. Thanks again!

  20. Good morning dear Mary…..I believe that this is one of your best paintings…it is absolutely beautiful. I can imagine myself in that field and you are so right it is evocative of paintings by the French impressionists. Beautiful work….and good to be back to see it….janet:)

    • Mary says:

      Happy to see you again Janet, hope you are well. Thanks very much for your generous comments and compliment – can you imagine my excitement when I saw this one field. Really took my breath away and very happy that the oil pastels cooperated in producing the vibrant scene I envisioned. Thanks again and hope you have a wonderful week.

  21. I also opened the photo up. Gorgeous painting delightfully done. Love it.

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much and glad you viewed the image in a larger size to see the details. Appreciate your lovely thoughts on this painting.

  22. dorannrule says:

    This one sparkles with life. I love it.

  23. aFrankAngle says:

    Colors abound in a touch of the French Impressionists (thanks to Cynthia) … but the idea came mind, then she identified the idea. 🙂

  24. Painting for Joy says:

    Absolutely a pure delight to see you using your oil pastels again. I love this painting! The red flowers really pop and I think your underpainting in purple was a great idea to bring harmony throughout.

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much Rhonda – was great capturing in oil pastels. The Indian Paintbrushes were that bright in person, can you imagine – just a gorgeous scene. I thought that the underpainting would help to give an overall warmth to the painting, and the final addition of purple worked as you said for harmony. Thank you for noticing and commenting on it. I was really happy working those oil pastels again.

  25. So beautiful. I really like the warmness of the colors.

  26. A stunner. The underpainting shines through. This just glows with joy.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Cynthia – appreciate your kind thoughts. Underpainting worked – looking to try this scene again.

  27. Now there are the ‘promises’ I had in mind! 😉
    BEAUTIFUL, my dear Mary! 🙂

  28. nutsfortreasure says:

    OMG this is gorgeous Mary. My neighbor wants to kill her plants like this I said please can I have them 🙂 Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Mary says:

      Oh Eunice – you know how to make my day! Thank you my friend. Go get your neighbors flowers, seed your yard they’ll grow no doubt under your wonderful care.

      • nutsfortreasure says:

        If you could see my place right now I have gone mad lol I hope my veggies appreciate all I am doing for them 🙂

  29. This is so lovely, Mary. I love those splashes of blue in the foreground. Your horizon and sky are sublime. 🙂

  30. Amy says:

    Soo very beautiful! It touches my heart… Thank you for sharing, Mary! 🙂 ❤

  31. Well, Mary, I think they would have admitted you into the “Salon” with the French Impressionists….such a beautiful painting! And to me, it does not look like a photograph—and I mean that as a compliment; it is an artistic interpretation of a photograph. (By the way, do you find it makes a difference for you, whether you use a photographic reference you yourself have shot?)
    And I’m glad a few little blue bonnets did sneak into the foreground!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Cynthia for such a beautiful comment and compliment – it was a scene that I thoroughly enjoyed bringing to life under the vibrancy of oil pastels. You would have had a good laugh, it was so warm in the studio that the little bits of oil pastels were sliding all over the place and by using Senneliers the gritty texture really got used up pretty quickly – well, it was an interesting time painting to say the least but fun none-the-less. Interesting question, sometimes it makes a difference – all depends on the subject and whether I can feel the scene that’s staring back at me through the photograph. There are some photographs that I take and I feel nothing, and then there are scenes that someone else has taken that blow me away (ocean scenes) and it’s as though I’m standing right there feeling the sun/warmth/cold, etc. it all depends. In the case of the TX landscapes photographs that I took down in Ennis, there is a special feeling that I get by looking at them and I’m transported right back to the place.

  32. Wow! That’s beautiful, Mary. The detail makes it look like a photograph. Lovely!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Jill – this was a neat landscape that translated perfectly into a painting. Coming across this place was a real treasure, because it was on a road that we weren’t going to drive down – I didn’t realize how amazing the shots turned out until I looked after we were well on our way home. Really appreciate your kind thoughts.

  33. Arts & Rhymes says:

    How gorgeous is that!!! It’s alive! 😀

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much Sibella – love your reaction to the scene!

      • Arts & Rhymes says:

        I can’t contain my excitement when I see a beautiful artwork that moves me. I have seen many oil pastel paintings, but you truly are a master of it!

  34. Such a skillful use of vibrant colours. Perfect to reveal the abundance of nature yet so subtle… 🙂

  35. John says:

    I really admire your skills and talent, Mary!! I opened the photo up large as it could go, such detail. 👍🏻😍

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much John – really appreciate your feedback and compliment. It was a beautiful scene to reproduce into a painting – glad you enjoyed it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s