Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Weeds or Wildflowers?

 August's Color Palette        5" x  7"       Pastel       ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75

To some, they are others, a closer examination reveals stunningly beautiful wildflowers!    

Sometimes we need not travel far to find a wealth of color, worthy of painting.  Located between a dental office and a bank in my town (Aurora, Ohio), is an undeveloped field of riveting yellow goldenrod contrasted against purple ironweed, withwil a touch of Queen Anne's lace. The setting sun, along with the distant blue treeline becomes a soothing backdrop to set the stage for a splash of color.

 Frequently, this is my classroom where I learn from what God's very own color palette. I love staying here to study the sky and make color notes of how to paint the evening atmosphere. Then it's back to the studio for better light and a mosquito-free environment! 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Misty Memories

Misty Memories    4" x 7"   Pastel    ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75


Day 7 of my personal challenge of painting 7 paintings in 7 days. These were my "warm-up" exercises before starting 30 in 30, beginning September 1, along with 1500+  artists. Like any challenge, this demands planning ahead for an interesting growth and learning experience.

On the last day of my challenge, I decided to paint simply an impression of the ocean, wherever the painting decided to lead me. It does remind me of our first trip to Maine years ago, as we walked along Marginal Way in Ogunquit. The weather report promised rain all day, so we purchased ponchos and headed out into the storm. It was a totally exhilarating experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat! With the wind and surf leaving us breathless, our umbrella's only option was to morph into a useful walking stick. The only regret was that I couldn't take art supplies into that environment!

I decided to try a different surface to paint on this time. It is a mixture of pumice and gesso on 300# watercolor paper. I did enjoy experimenting with a new method for me, as it added a significant amount of texture. I began with a watercolor sketch first, and then added layers of pastel. I guess you could say memories of that adventurous day and a new adventurous painting surface brought about this painting. I'll definitely try this surface again in a larger format.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Curtis Island Light

Curtis Island Light      4 x 7    Pastel     ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75

Day 6 of my 7 paintings in 7 days takes us to Curtis Island Light on a quiet fall evening....

Curtis Island Light marks the approach to the harbor of Camden, Maine.  The lighthouse is still an active US Coast Guard aid to navigation. I didn't need to go onto the island, as I was perfectly happy viewing it from a distance that explains its purpose since 1836. 

Curtis Island protects the Camden Harbor from the ocean storms. Camden is a lovely town on Penobscot Bay. I'm seeing a harbor painting coming soon from our many photos from our visit there.

There's nothing quite like having a personal tour guide who is my nephew. Michael, who lives in Camden, Maine is an artist also. We were quite spoiled by Michael, as he lead us to the non-tourist sights in the Blue Hill Peninsula area and around Camden.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Deer Isle

Deer Isle        8.5" x  11.5 "       Pastel          ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $165

Day 5 of my self-challenge of 7 paintings in 7 days.

 What I used to paint from, is the reference photo below, from our vacation trip last fall. In Maine, it seems that frequently there's another lovely roadside view, just waiting to be painted, everywhere we traveled. This was on Route 15A through Deer Isle, as we drove back from our stay at Stonington. I wanted to jump out of the car with pastels and easel in hand, however this was on private property. I had to be satisfied with a "drive by" photo from my cell phone.

I enjoyed painting this scene and I plan to do another larger painting in the near future with a similar view of rocks and water.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Geneva Marsh

Geneva Marsh    5¾ x  8½     Pastel    ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available  $95

Day 4 of my self-challenge of 7 paintings in 7 days.

Marsh areas in the Geneva State Park are interesting to me. This one in particular has enough open water area that reflected the sky and the surrounding fall colors. This park is on the shore of  Lake Erie and has a lovely Lodge where we stayed. 

This painting is on UArt 800 sanded paper. This is the beginning that I was able to accomplish in Geneva. Then  I finished the painting in the studio.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Portland Head Lighthouse

Portland Head Lighthouse   6 x 6    Pastel     ©Sheila Ashley Liston

Portland Head Lighthouse....a favorite!

This is Day 3 of a self-challenge of painting 7 paintings in 7 days. There's more to follow.

My husband and I have visited this lighthouse before our trip last fall. It will always be on the itinerary for any future trips to Maine. I could spend hours there. Last fall these prolific wildflowers begged to be painted . I have painted this lighthouse focusing on the rocky cliff and the ocean waves. This time, I wanted to include those flowers. 

Late purple asters

This is the more common view that you may have seen before. I took over 50 photos that day and some will become paintings in the future. The first year that we were there, the Tall Ships were sailing by. What a sight!. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fishing Camp in Maine

Maine Fishing Camp   4 x 6   Pastel   ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $50

View from a roadside in Maine one October morning.....

We found this roadside treasure on the way back from Stonington, Maine. This was a perfect fall day for travel, although I admit that I was reluctant to leave the town of Stonington. Stonington is a picturesque old seaport on Penobscot Bay located on the southern part of Deer Isle. From the deck of our hotel, we enjoyed watching the lobster fishermen unloading their early morning catches. 

We stayed here at the Inn on the Harbor. Here we found a pleasant surprise that the owners, Dana and Jay, were from our home state of Ohio. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Myrtle Beach Pier

Myrtle Beach Pier   5 x 7    Acrylic  ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $125  

Myrtle Beach Pier framed

Sunrises are always awesome, but especially so at the beach!

I love the sights, sounds, and the smell of the salty breeze that one finds at the beach. My mind goes to how I might paint the whole experience. With a fascination for wave forms, I find myself studying most of them.  With my cell phone camera and my husband's photography, we can come away with subject matter for a very long time.

Even though I work mostly with pastels, I do enjoy acrylics as another way of expression. Actually if the truth be known, I've never met a medium that I didn't love! However, for the sake of focus, I have narrowed it down to these two for now.

This painting is done on a gessoed board and varnished with a UV protective solution. It is framed in a warm gray moulding that resembles driftwood. There is a white linen liner that separates the painting from the frame to allow a pleasing presentation.  

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Early Morning Beach Walk

Early Morning Beach Walk      8 x 10    Acrylic     ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $150

It's worth getting up at 6am at the beach!

I must confess I am not an early riser to say the least. We were staying at Myrtle Beach with our family. While they slept, I awoke at 5:50 am and thought that I might really be able to sneak out of the house without waking the household. That's a bit brave for me to go out alone in an unfamiliar place. Yet the sunrise was calling and I had to do it. I was rewarded with a breathtaking scene, worth every second of more sleep. One of God's light shows began to unfold before me. For me, it was a spiritual experience...a chance to be in the presence of my Creator.   

I knew that I would need to paint the experience many times. This is my interpretation in acrylic paint. It's impossible to record the whole experience in paint, but it does give me the opportunity to relive the experience. 

Have you had a similar experience?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Fields of Lavender   5 x 5   Pastel   ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $60 framed 
Gotta love lavender!

This painting was done from a visit to an Ohio lavender farm called Luvin Lavender in Madison, Ohio near Lake Erie. What a delight to see a lavender field with masses of glorious color! How awesome to know the owners originally planted these to attract enough bees to pollinate other crops on their property. Is has since grown to be a place of beauty in their community. They hold a Luvin Lavender and Art In The Garden Festival every year in July.  Its well worth a trip there to learn more.  You can find more information on their website:   www. or their Facebook page: Luvin Lavender Farms LLC.

"Fields of Lavender" is painted in pastel on suede board. Its a lovely surface to accept the pigment from soft pastels. This painting is framed in a gold frame with an attractive leaf design. Museum glass with UV protective covers and protects this painting for your enjoyment.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

First Impressions

First Impressions  8.5 x 6.5 Pastel  ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $95

Ahh...first impressions! These cosmos were lining the walkway to the entrance of the Pemaquid Art Gallery at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park in Bristol, Maine. This colorful display welcomed us as we entered the gallery of some outstanding art. What a treat!

I could have stayed there the whole day, soaking in the beauty of the lighthouse and ocean, and the gallery as well. The weather was a perfect fall day in October last year. The only thing better than all this, was that I had an appointment to reconnect with my treasured friend. What a blessing it was, to see my friend, Pat Parker, again after so many years!  
We started right in where we left off back then, as though it was yesterday! It's so much fun to paint the memory of that day, reliving every moment. These times are more important that the end result of an actual painting being produced.

Here's some progress shots from the beginning. I've come to believe that paintings have to become a bit ugly and unruly at first.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Sulphur Springs

Sulphur Springs   5 x 7¼    Pastel    $75     ©Sheila Ashley Liston

This is a favorite place of mine where the gentle sounds of flowing waters invite me to enjoy quiet reflection.

I love the entanglement of the roots that time has laid bare as they are the vessels delivering the lifeblood to the trees. Much water has tumbled across the shale creek bed and yet those roots remain strong and balanced. So many times nature tells an underlying story of one of life's truths. That is the importance of planting ourselves where we are firmly grounded, and staying true to our roots and our calling. 

Often time does not permit finishing a painting onsite. My aim is to lay the groundwork of the drawing and to begin to make color notes of the landscape. Here the painting is roughed in and the values are established using hard Nupastels early on.  Usually my husband or I take photos of the scene for reference as I work to finish the painting later. Back in the studio, I can correct any problems with the drawing in this stage. Next I begin to add colors, while I work to make the dark areas even darker and to make the light areas lighter to create a bit of contrast. I keep in mind where I want the focal point to be and there is where I place the most contrast. 

I was fortunate to have a picnic table nearby where I could sit and hold such a small painting while I worked. There was room there to lay out my palette of colors on the table. This is a rare experience that did not require packing the easel and all other supplies, as I have been at this site many times in the past.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Puppy and Wildflowers

Honey     8 x 6    Pastel      ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $145

Puppies and does it get any more fun to paint?

Forget-me-knots grow in the spring in my backyard. We had a visiting puppy with us for 2 weeks in late May. "Honey" was only 12 weeks old and so tiny that her head was just barely above the flowers. My husband, Bill,  took the photo opportunity as she ran and played in the midst of them.

Here are the progress shots of the painting from its beginning, to the point where I study it closely to see if it needs anything else. With a few touches in her fur and playing down the flowers directly under her chin, Honey was finished.( See the main photo)

 I used UArt 800 sanded pastel paper that I am beginning to love. The painting was started with a thin watercolor wash to establish the values. This made a nice start that allowed me to get the darks blocked in first. This method leaves plenty of sanded surface that accepts several successive layers of lighter colors and highlights. I worked to create depth by blurring the background flowers, even though the original photo shows sharper detail. I wanted sweet little Honey to be the main focal point.

 This was one of those paintings that cause me to giggle while I paint. I could feel that little furry head that just fit into my hand.  How fun is that?


Monday, July 3, 2017

 Sweet Peas In The Field   8.5 x 11.5   Pastel    Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $150

There's nothing like bringing back memories of another time through sweet peas by the roadside...

The evening sun had cast its warm glow across the field, and I knew then that this sight was destined to become a painting.

I wanted to try UArt 800 grit sanded pastel paper for the first time. Tones of black Inktense stick with water were used to establish values.

Then I used harder pastels (Nupastels and Rembrandt) to begin putting in local color.  I approached tentatively without knowing how many layers of pastel that the paper could hold. I finished the successive layers with softer Unison and Sennelier brands. I was happy with how the paper held many layers allowing detail especially in the foreground flowers. I will definitely use it again. I look forward to trying the coarser grits as well.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What I Learned From The Ocean

The Maine Coast  6 x 13  Pastel   ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $135

The fresh newness of every moment, that forgets the past that has already gone and the future is not yet, leads one to learn to stay in the present moment...

My goal was to study the anatomy of the ocean wave, yet the ocean showed me the concept of  "staying in the moment".  The concept was not new to me, but being a person who learns visually, I somehow needed to "see" it in a way that only the ocean could teach.

  • The wave reached its crescendo, crashes against the rocks and quickly recedes into the greater body of water....a job well done.

  • The water in the background gathers from the deep, forming a swell waiting in queue for its moment to be the shining star.

  • In the meantime, the wave with all its power and force, moves front and center for its mighty "one and only" performance, lasting but a few seconds in time.

How often have I wasted that fleeting moment of the present, worrying about the past that is gone and waiting for the future that hasn't yet arrived? 

Only after spending time there, drinking in the sights, sounds, smells and touches, did I feel worthy to try to paint the ocean. The real beauty of painting for me is in the actual process where I get to relive the whole experience of being there.

Beginning the initial drawing with vine charcoal, then I began to establish the light and dark areas. This painting is done on black Rives printmaking paper with pastels. This scene is from the coast near Kennebunkport during our trip to Maine last fall. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Springtime Visit to Blackwater Falls

After The Rain  9 x 8  Pastel   ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $135

Mighty waters rushing down the canyon through the storm back to its Source...
Do I not desire the same? Running back to my Source during the storms of life...

This painting was done on a recent spring trip to Blackwater Falls in West Virginia. It had rained for several days creating a massive cascade of water forcefully making its way through the Blackwater Canyon. The black water is the result of tannic acid from fallen hemlock trees and red spruce needles. With all the rain this season, the foliage is lush and rich in hues of green that seem even brighter than normal.