Pastel Cactus on Pumice, Almost Finished

Well, I am finally approaching the last stages of this cactus painting so I thought I would show my progress so far. This was certainly a lesson in persistence but I have to say that, surprisingly as it seems, after pressing through all the challenges of this piece, I would definitely paint on this surface again. What can I say, at the end of the day, it was worth it.

I snapped this photo in my studio so the colors here aren't as vivid as they are in person. I will post a picture of the final image in about a week. It should be totally complete by then.

Jeannette Cuevas Pastel Workshop

3 Day Workshop at the Rockport Center for the Arts

If you have thought about taking one last mini vacation before the end of the year, please consider joining me for my upcoming Pastel Workshop, November 3, 4, & 5, 2009 at the Rockport Center for the Arts in Rockport, Texas.

During this 3 day class you will learn how to use watercolor to create an underpainting of color that will ultimately peek through the upper layers of pastel to create painting effects that glow, that are full of energy and sparkle with light. For an example of this technique see the image on the June 25 blog post that won Best in Show at the Texas Pastel Society's juried show recently.

This workshop has quickly become one of my very favorite ones to teach due to the fact that it is in such a gorgeous location. However, the class is quickly approaching so if you are interested in joining us, don’t delay in signing up. There are still a few openings availble.

For more information please contact The Rockport Center for the Arts at 361-729-5519.

Painting Cactus in Pastel on Pumice Board - Pastel Layers

Painting Cactus in Pastel on Pumice Board - Beginning the Pastel Layers

Since working with this different surface, I have noticed a few marked differences from the technique and materials I am used to using. This time instead of watercolor I used acrylic paint which produced much richer and stronger colors for the under painting. This was wonderful, the darks were much darker and the variations of colors remained vivid. The watercolor I normally used would have to be applied several times to achieve the desired intensity. However, the acrylic has a sheen to it that has to be addressed. Since the pastel by nature has such a matte finish to it, the contrast of the strokes against the shinier acrylic underneath was trying to overpower. I found it necessary to pay closer attention to the background and tried to make sure it maintained a balance of pastel coverage so as not to distract.

The sanded surface of the pumice primed gator board has been very different to work on compared to the less abrasive surface of the watercolor paper.

The pumice board:

• is harder and scratchier than the watercolor paper
• uses up your pastels much faster because of the abrasiveness of it
• holds much more pastel color onto the surface
• and because of that produces a painting with more intense color.

This painting is pretty large (48" x 26") and has taken a long time for me to finally get the dark areas established and the basic shapes and structural elements down. But I have to say, this was mostly due to me having to get out of my comfort zone and press through the differences and difficulties of something new. Imagine that.

At any rate, you can see how it is starting to take shape. FINALLY, it is beginning to look like something recognizable! Sometimes you just have to force yourself to continue to work in faith. It
will eventually start to take shape. That, for me, has been the hardest part of this painting so far.

Painting Cactus in Pastel on Pumice Board

Painting Cactus in Pastel on Pumice Board - Experimenting with a New Painting Surface

As many of you know, my normal medium of choice is pastel over watercolor on watercolor paper. I have recently decided, however, to stretch myself and try something very different - pastel over acrylic on gator board primed with pumice gel. The pumice is similar to a very fine sand and when applied to the board creates a very fine sanded surface to paint on. It grabs hold of the pastel and holds the color beautifully. Besides, it seems only natural to paint cactus on a prickly surface like this. According to renowned artist, Daniel Greene, the pastel doesn’t seem to trickle off much either, even when transporting. There is a great article in the July 2009 issue of International Artist Magazine by Daniel Greene that thoroughly covers this process and other pastel surfaces in detail.

My friend and fellow pastel artist, Rita Kirkman, uses this process in her own work as well. She uses Art Spectrum pastel primer, although she adds, any pastel primer (gesso/pumice mix) will work.

I used a premixed "Fine Pumice Gel" by Golden and began by adding a good amount of water to it so that it was not so thick. This made it easier to apply to the board. Using a 3" brush, I gave it 2 coats and used my reference picture to guide the direction of my strokes. I then blocked in my darks with a blend of burnt umber, yellow ochre and black acrylic washes.

Next, I layered subsequent washes of dark blue, violet, green and shades of red and yellow to establish rich colors that will ultimately peak through the layers of pastel on top. This is what I believe gives the painting that "living quality". The depths of color beneath the surface of the painting ultimately "glow" through and gives the painting life.

In my next post I will show you the beginning steps of the layering of pastel, and lo, the evolution of the cactus image will begin.

Monday Morning Inspiration-Bouguereau Style Digital Painting

If you've ever wondered how to paint digitally, here's a fast paced, crash course in painting a Bouguereau style female portrait digitally. Notice not only the technique but the gorgeous skin tone colors. Hang on for the ride!

Back In The Studio!

First of all, I must apologize for having been gone from my blog for the last couple of months. Between recovering from surgery on both my feet, traveling, completing a “huge” project that kept me working long hours ( I’ll share more on that later) and more traveling,...I’m afraid I found myself in a slump with my posting. But the hu-bub in my studio hasn’t changed and even though I continue to hobble around on my still healing feet, I am slowly getting back on track, thank goodness.

My last post gave you a glimpse of the 3 pieces I submitted to the Corridor of Art Show sponsored by the Austin Pastel Society in Austin, Texas. When the awards were decided, my painting titled “Triple Crowns” received a 2nd place in the Still Life category.

Even more exciting, a few weeks later, at the Texas Pastel Society’s 1st Annual Show at the Coppini Academy of Fine Art in San Antonio, my pastel painting titled “Warm Morning Light” won Best Of Show. I was thrilled! This was such an enjoyable image to paint. I loved the effect the light had on my granddaughter’s hair and shirt and especially her mug of cocoa as it glowed from behind and filtered through everything. It made me feel good to know others enjoyed it too.

My next entry, which is quickly approaching, will be to the Pastel Society of America’s Annual Juried Competition. I have never submitted anything to this prestigious show but I will be honored if all I do is get accepted.

Austin Pastel Society's "Corridor of art"

Austin Pastel Society's "Corridor of Art"

If you are in the Austin area anytime soon, you must try to stop in and see the Austin Pastel Society's annual juried exhibition, "The Corridor of Art". I dropped off my 3 submissions for the event recently and was able to get a sneak preview while helping to hang the exhibit. I have to say, the show is exceptional, with a wide and diverse
assortment of styles and talent. Equally exciting, the entries will be judged this year by the internationally recognized and published, award winning pastel artist, Desmond O'Hagin. So, needless to say, it will be very exciting to see which pieces garner awards.

The show is being held at the Chase Bank Building on Lavaca and 8th St. in Austin, Texas and will remain on display until May 3. Don't miss this opportunity to view some incredible work.

* The 3 pieces shown above are "Cowboy K. P.", "Triple Crowns" and "Coffee Break".

2009 Poster for The Heritage Gathering

2009 Poster for The Heritage Gathering

Thought you might like to see the new 2009 poster for The Chuck Wagon Cook-Off and Heritage Gathering in Boerne, Texas. The image was painted from a photograph I took at one of the previous cook-offs a couple of years back. This particular cowboy is a seasoned chuck wagon cook and was kind enough to allow me to reproduce his likeness making his famous "Biscuits From Scratch" which is also the title of the painting.

I'll be signing posters there at the Agricultural Heritage Museum this Saturday, March 7, so come by and say hello. While you're there you'll be able to enjoy some of the finest chuck wagon cooking in the state of Texas. The Heritage Gathering is one of the most enjoyable family events in the whole Boerne area so don't miss it.



I mean it, GET OUT! Sometimes you just have to get out of your studio to get a fresh perspective. This post has nothing to do with pastel painting per say but does have everything to do with feeding your creative mind. I recently had the opportunity to attend a quilting retreat at The Retreat House in Rockport, Texas. Quilting is something I am absolutely fascinated by. The gorgeous patterns created by small pieces of colorfully coordinated fabrics is mesmerizing and an art in itself. I have traveled to Houston, Texas to attend the International Quilt Festival numerous times and have even begun several quilt projects of my own. Unfortunately, however, that's usually as far as it gets. I have never been to a quilting retreat but intrigued by the thought of 4 days of solitude to work on whatever unfinished quilting projects I felt like working on (and in my pj's if I so desired), I decided to go. What an incredible few days it turned out to be. Surrounded by numerous talented quilters who were tremendously inspiring and were never short on encouragement, I sewed to my heart's content. My enthusiasm was renewed, and not just for quilting. Once I got home I found I was equally enthusiastic about getting back to work in my office and starting my new series of paintings. I didn't even find a need to get irritated at my husband. I felt like I really HAD taken a chill pill.

I realized how important it was to get away from my old grind and do something I enjoyed that was totally different from my norm. Somewhere in the change, I found renewed enthusiasm and excitement that had sneakily escaped my familiar work environment . I was refreshed and even anxious to get started again, with renewed energy, a second wind. If you are an artist with your own business, you know that it is easy to get way over absorbed in the workings of your business. Take a break. Get out and do something totally different for a few days that you love. The results will absolutely amaze you and make a tremendous difference in your attitude, your enthusiasm and probably even your energy level, and all for the good!

Where have you gone when you "got out"? What have you done that was totally different from your normal day to day? I'd love to hear about your places of escape.

One last note. If you are looking for a place to have an artists retreat or workshop, consider The Retreat House in Rockport, Texas. It is an excellent place to relax, create and participate. Clean and beautiful inside, scenic and relaxing outside. You must keep this on your list of possible locations for future events.

Out Of The Closet

Out Of The Closet

This is an image I started working on last year but had to put aside in order to finish a different series for an exhibit. As you can see, I have the under painting in place, which I do in watercolor on watercolor paper. At this stage I try to develop my values and get all the dark areas established. I also add subtle color through out that will ultimately peek through the final layers of pastel. It is this interaction of layered color that sparkles through and creates images that come to life. You will see what I mean as this painting progresses.

Monsters in the Studio

Monsters in the Studio

Much like the closet you hurriedly open and hurl your tennis shoes, racket and sports bag into then slam the door shut before it has a chance to come crashing back out again, such has my studio become in the last few months of 2008. Due to new unforeseen responsibilities in my life, my studio has taken the main brunt of the
kayos swirling around me recently. Nothing horrible, but things happen sometimes that we just have to rein back in and get control of. Thank goodness for new beginnings! The first thing I did was to purchase a nice big filing cabinet. When I researched prices, however, they were totally out of my league. Almost by accident, I stopped by an Office Furniture Express store and found a used 4-drawer, lateral filing cabinet in excellent condition for the same price as a brand new one half the size. I saved close to $400 and was ecstatic to say the least!!

I've got to say, ALWAYS consider "used" when planning a purchase. You will be amazed, as I was, at the savings you can find without sacrificing quality.

I will post a "before" picture of my studio soon, but only when I can show the "after" photo as well. Some monsters in the closet are just too scary to look at until you've gotten control over them.

Art Educator Days

This past Saturday was Art Educator Days at the Rockport Center for the Arts in Rockport, Texas. It's an event that is specifically created for Art Educators. A variety of classes are coordinated and offered so that Art Teachers can get ideas and information about interesting things to teach in their art classes. It is a tremendous event and I am glad to be a part of it.

Here are some of my student's finished pieces that were created in my "Pastel over Watercolor" class at the Art Center this weekend. What a great group they were!
One more thing. They created these paintings with a very limited palette of approximately 10 pastels.



My Studio Journal is officially open.
I have been an artist for quite a while but only in the past 9 years have I been focused on making a living doing fine art. My name is Jeannette Cuevas and I am a pastel artist. My work consists of painting pastel over a watercolor under painting on watercolor paper that’s been stretched on a wooden board. My images have most recently been of chuck wagon cooks, cowboys and cowhands. But, I enjoy painting all of the images around where I live. I’m a Texas girl and cactus, cowboy ropes & hats, southern skies and even south Texas waterways are some of the images you may see coming through my studio doors this year. I am anxiously preparing to start a new body of work and am looking forward to sharing everything I know and have learned about what I do. My journey has been long and often difficult. Hopefully, I can help others learn some things that might make their own artistic journey a little smoother.

Unexpected Beauty

"Plum Prickly" ,  Pastel Unexpected Beauty It’s a mystery to me why I am so drawn to painting cactus. I’ve always thought ...