Finished painting: Light in the Desert

A few years ago I was asked to create a piece on the Nativity story, so I painted this scene:

Light in the desert

Light in the Desert, 20″x 24″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © Kathryn Beals

I wanted to create something peaceful but mysterious, with a dark sky.  I decided to keep the composition very simple and limit the palette to mostly blues and purples, to make the focal star more striking.

As my style developed as an artist, it kind of split into two styles; abstract/surreal and more realistic landscapes.  The more realistic landscapes tell a story or recall a certain place, the surreal ones are more emotional and abstract.   I love hearing others’ impressions of these pieces, and I’ve found that viewers interpret the surreal landscapes in very different ways.

For me, this painting shows a vast desert – sand dunes in the foreground, the star in the sky – and has a dark but hopeful feeling.  Other people have told me that this painting is the moon over huge ocean waves, and it has kind of a scary but captivating feel.  Others have said it is snow-covered mountains, cold and stark.  I like that these images can be different things to different people.

This painting is available in my Etsy store as a photo print or canvas print.  The original is not for sale.  Happy holidays!  I’ll be back to posting in the New Year.

Pacific Crest Trail Painting in Progress: Painting Stars

I took progress photos of the second half of my Pacific Crest Trail painting, and turned them into a GIF, so you can watch the sky coming together:

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After filling in the background colors with a large brush, I started putting in the stars.  I had a breakthrough in my starry sky paintings when I stopped using mostly black, and used a mix of blues instead for the background colors.  This painting has very little black.  The main sky color is Anthraquinone Blue, a strong transparent blue, with some Phthalo Blue and Titanium White.

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Another trick I’ve learned: use the handle end of the brush to make the stars.  They come out rounder, and you can adjust the pressure to make bigger or smaller dots.

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I like to vary the colors of the stars to add depth as well.  For some, I used a mix of Titanium White and Phthalo Blue, then added white dots over top after the first dots had dried.  For others, I used a bit of Titan Buff instead of white, to make the stars yellower.

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After putting in most of the stars and letting them dry, I experimented with the colors in the sky by adding in a bit of Quinacridone Magenta and transparent Zinc White here and there over top of the stars.

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I also added a bit of the magenta to the snow on the mountaintops below to tie it together. Here’s the finished painting:

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This painting is in my Etsy store as a photo print and canvas print.  The original is for sale through my website.

Winter Night Sky Painting: Wander

This is another painting from a snowshoe trip in Yosemite a few years ago.  We had a long trip in to a stone shelter hut, and due to bad snow conditions it took much longer than we expected.

It was close to midnight when we were still a mile or two from where we needed to be, and we had that exhausted tunnel vision that comes at the end of a long hike at high altitude.  Suddenly we looked up from our plodding snowshoes and saw an amazing sight around us – a burned forest covered in snow, silent, under the moon and stars.

Wander

Wander, 30″ x 40″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © Kathryn Beals

Sometimes I need these moments to remember why I love the backcountry, and why it is worth it to be out in the cold in these amazing places, and not home in my warm bed.  We stopped and looked at the stars for a long time before continuing on.

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Winter Camping: Finished tent painting

This is another one of my winter camping paintings, inspired by a snowshoe trip in the coast mountains of British Columbia with my husband.

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Coast Mountains, 24″x 30″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © Kathryn Beals

We really enjoy winter camping; there are no bugs or bears to worry about, and comparatively few people.  Water is readily available in the form of snow, the ground is soft and the views are amazing.  If you can come prepared for the cold and the early sunsets, it’s great.

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This is me, standing against the peak that I later put in my painting.  Like my duct tape gaiters?

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You can find this painting in my Etsy shop as a digital print or canvas print.  The original painting is for sale through my website.

Starry sky painting, step by step

This is my most recent painting, another in my night sky series.   I just got a new video camera for my time-lapse paintings, and I’ll be posting the full video from this one soon.  Here’s the finished painting:

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Passage, 24″x 30″, acrylic on canvas, copyright © 2014 Kathryn Beals

This is a memory of camping in northern Alberta, Canada, one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived.  Here’s my step-by-step process below in video stills:

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I started with my large filbert brush and quickly painted on layers of blue and white in a circular pattern.  This is a mix of Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo blue and Anthraquinone blue, mixed with Titanium white and Carbon black.  I didn’t worry too much about the shape and blending at this point, I just worked to quickly get the canvas covered in color.

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