Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Amaryllis By Mornin'

Amaryllis By Morning      6" x 6"     Pastel       ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $95

There's nothing like waiting for the morning to see the amaryllis spreading her wings to show her stunning scarlett petals! This time was no different, I brought the bulb home from Heinen's with some green foliage, and first thing each morning I could hardly wait to see the buds open to reveal her spectacular hues of red. What a lesson in patience!

Finally, the day arrived to begin the process of studying every tiny detail in wonderment!

And then the gleeful rush to the pastel box to find the perfect sticks of color that would shout "Amaryllis Scarlet"! To my disappointment, there was no magic amaryllis stick!  From then on, I had to give up on magic and select and test colors that would speak in amaryllis tones.

Ahh.....finally, I strike up a new relationship with the oranges and peach colors in the box and know that they will help me tell the story of how the light changes as it strikes the high points. On closer examination, for the first time, I found that there are tiny specks of shimmering light in each square inch of the petals. Fortunately, the folks at the Sennelier company know this, as they include a group of pastels that contain mica flakes that reflect those microscopic specks of light.

 Here's the final culmination of alone time with an amaryllis. There's a tiny replica beside the original where I've tested colors on the way to tell the final story.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Everett Road Covered Bridge

Everett Road Covered Bridge     4" x 6"       Pastel      ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available  $65

It's not unusual to find artists set up along the roadside in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in northeastern Ohio.  We are fortunate in that it's about a 30 minute drive to this area for us. The Park has beautiful waterfalls, hiking & bike trails, marshes, rock quarries, rivers, and the Ohio & Erie Canal. There's certainly no shortage of subject matter begging to be painted in any season. 

This covered bridge is the only remaining covered bridge in Summit County. Everett Road bridge was originally built in the 1870s.  It has been repaired and rebuilt due to major damage more than once. In 1975 a heavy spring storm weakened its supporting structure, causing the bridge to fall into the creek bed below. Funds were raised by school children, local citizens, private organizations and government agencies in 1986 to build this historically accurate reconstruction by the National Park Service.

We enjoy day trips to this area and continue to learn more about the park with each visit. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ornamental Kale

Ornamental Kale     6" x 6"     Pastel      ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75

This is the ornamental kale plant that I mentioned yesterday. It is such a beautiful cool weather addition to any garden.  I understand that the plants actually can be eaten, but they're really used for garnish or as a base for hors d'oeuvres. I'm sure that would be a lovely splash of color for any table. In my opinion, they're fine plants for painting, especially for a lesson in how to paint purples!

Here's the "ornamental cousins" ....kale and cabbage from yesterday.

See my blog for more information on how these were painted on UArt 500 sanded pastel paper.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Rose By Another Name

A Rose By Another Name       6" x  6"     Pastel        ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75

This plant is grown in my area in the midst of all the beautiful warm colors of fall. It's always thrilling to me to see how our Creator chooses this color palette. While the earth is covered in orange, red, gold and yellow with touches of green, this beauty pops up in shades of purple.  What a delightful treat for the eyes, this is a fine example of the use of complementary color in nature. Although, I've never grown ornamental cabbage before, I hope to plant this next year in late summer and patiently wait for the color explosion!
This pastel painting on UArt 500, has its' rather rough beginning in black watercolor to determine the values.
It's next stage is not much prettier! Here I've added a dry ink product called Inktense blocks. It is put down as a dry stick of color, and the water added to spread the color. This is a new material for me and I do enjoy watching the water bring the color to life.
In this stage, I added hard pastels (Nupastels and Rembrandts) lightly on the sanded surface to begin to establish the colors.

  After adding more color with some soft pastels (Senniliers), I defined the light edges, as I knew that this would be hard to be accurate in the final stage.
At this point, I added more fushia colors and defined the outer leaves with greens. I was able to work closer to the edges to create lost and found edges that didn't look so stiff. My final thoughts were that the painting had become too dark. I lighten the and softened the outer edges to finish.

Have you had the experience of growing these? Let me know any tips that you've learned.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Rocks of Pemaquid

The Rocks of Pemaquid   6" x 12"   Pastel   ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $145

Hurry! You still have time to make it!  Put it on your calendar for Sunday, November 26, 2017....Santa arrives briefly via helicopter at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park in Bristol, Maine.

This is a beautiful, well-maintained park that makes it well worth the time to visit for a day while taking in Maine's lighthouses. There's a wonderful museum that houses much information about the fishing and marine heritage of the area. In addition, I was thrilled to see some lovely art by local artists in an art museum on the grounds.

The weather was perfect that day, with a wonderful sea breeze that coaxed us into staying much longer than we had planned. The lighthouse makes a fabulous scene, but today I chose to focus on the unique rock formation. We'll definitely plan a day here on the next trip! 


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Maine Estuary

Maine Estuary     6" x 12"    Pastel       ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $145

Sometimes the ordinary scene has so much to tell, that it becomes an extraordinary painting subject. I'm drawn to these areas of transition between the ocean and the rivers, that offers some protection to the inland from extreme weather events.

After drawing in an outline, I used black watercolor to establish the value pattern.

Here I began to use Inktense sticks to begin laying in the local color

This is the fun part where adding water to Inktense causes a burst of color and dripping.

After the sanded paper (UArt 500) has dried, I began to add pastel. First, I used hard pastels. I worked with lighter values in the backgound and used peach, lavender, and pale blue pastels to paint the overcast sky, and then to use the same to add the final details in the water areas.

At this point I used soft pastels to add final details along with some hard Nupastels to add the grasses and weeds in the foreground.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Marblehead Lighthouse

Marblehead Lighthouse   5" x 8"    Pastel
©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $95   

We drove to Marblehead last week where I was fortunate enough to find a comfy rock to sit on to begin painting. Well, truth be known, I did pad it a bit with an old blanket. It helps to carry some extra gear to be ready for any painting experience. It was a perfectly lovely fall day with a warm gentle breeze. We like to visit Marblehead Lighthouse and then take the nearby ferry across to either Kelly's Island or Put In Bay, especially during the off season. We enjoy photographing and painting the beauty and stillness of these small islands.  

Marblehead Lighthouse is just a two hour drive for us located in Marblehead, Ohio. We are fortunate to be just under one hour to Lake Erie, that has several beautiful lighthouses along what we here in Ohio like to call the North Coast. We stopped on the way back to photograph the Lorain Harbor Light in Lorain, Ohio.  

Marblehead Lighthouse is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes. Built in 1821, the lighthouse guides vessels into the Sandusky Bay and through the treacherous passage that runs between the Ohio mainland and a cluster of offshore islands.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Twilight at Portland Head Lighthouse

Twilight at Portland Head   6" x 8.25"   Pastel    ©Sheila Ashley Liston

Portland Head Lighthouse in Portland, Maine.
I decided to paint from the photograph below. The more I thought about it, I began to fantasize about how it might look as the evening sun sets and the twilight begins.  We weren't fortunate to actually see that happen, but I decided to create that vision in my mind and then transfer it to my new UArt dark pastel paper. Since the paper is almost black to begin with, it seemed like it would be a good start to a painting at that time of the evening.    

It's interesting to me that sometimes a song comes to mind while I'm working. This time it was the hymn, "Be Thou My Vision" 

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me save that thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day and by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Cathedral Falls in June

Cathedral Falls in June   4" x 12"
Acrylic   ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available Framed $120

The summer of 2016 was just beginning when Bill and I visited a few of our favorite spots in West Virginia. We always stop at this roadside park that has a most beautiful waterfall with easy access. We see this along Route 60 as we leave the Charleston area on Route 60 on the way to Hawks Nest State Park. At Hawk's Nest, we met a lovely group of ladies who were having a scrapbooking retreat. They were kind enough to let me visit with their creative group. Oh my, I do love art supplies of all kinds and creative people! Thank you, Margie Price and group, from South Charleston.

I was working on this painting about 2 weeks after our visit, only to learn that West Virginia had suffered one of the most devastating floods in their history, resulting in many deaths. For the first time that I could remember, it affected the area where I grew up in Clay County. The bridge to my childhood home was washed away as the water forced its way through the quiet little community of Dille. I am grateful for my family and friends who were safe, but not without damage to their properties.

As I painted these falls, I couldn't help but wonder at how water can be the very necessity for sustaining our lives, and yet be so devastating that it takes lives with it as it rushes back to the oceans. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Lavender Blue

Lavender Blue   8" x 11"   Pastel    ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $145

 It's always fun to use one of Grandma's pitcher and bowl as a prop for my still life. I know she would've approved, as she and I shared the love of flowers! 

I used a Canson Mi Tientes Touch, which is a finely sanded paper made for pastels. I've used their regular papers for years. This one holds more pastel which is helpful, as I like to work in layers. It's a bit different in that it requires a feather light touch, so as to not build up too much pastel in early stages.

This is a glimpse of the set-up for the still life. I use a simulated daylight lamp to direct the light to create interesting shadows and highlights.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Yellow Daisies   4" x 6"   Pastel   ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $60

My shipment of UArt's new dark sanded pastel paper arrived Saturday. I've been looking forward to painting on its very fine surface. I've used black printmaker's paper in the past and the results were pretty good. I find that I really like the sanded surface paper by UArt in the regular color. The combination of the sanded paper and the fact that it is almost black in the 800 grit is wonderful. The pastels seem to appear ever brighter than the other papers. You may need your sunglasses for this one!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Almost Heaven!

North Bend Cabins   5" x 8"    Pastel     ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $85

North Bend State Park is located in Cairo, WV in Ritchie County. Our Ashley family reunion was held there for many years in September creating many great memories. At that time, there were eight cabins that were all rented by family members. A winding road leads from the Lodge, though the park crossing a river, and then becomes a single lane road up the mountain to the cabin area. There you can smell the pines and the wood burning stoves, and walk through the crunch of the fallen leaves. As everyone arrived, we would go from cabin to cabin, visiting with the cousins. Soon the air became filled with the sounds of country music with banjos and guitars, and the sweet fragrance of food being prepared in each cabin. Almost Heaven!


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Bass Harbor Head Light

Bass Harbor Head Light     9" x 12"   Pastel    ©Sheila Ashley Liston


Yay! It is possible to do thirty paintings in thirty days! I must admit that there were some late nights on this project! Tomorrow I will post a photo of the whole group of paintings.

This painting was done from photos from our first trip to Maine. We went there again last fall, but this time I chose to do this flight of stairs, leaving the remainder of stone steps for the younger folks!  
Bass Harbor Head Light is in Bar Harbor, Maine on Mt Desert Island in Acadia National Park. We could've have spent a week in just this area alone. We're thinking the next time, we will need to plan for a month's stay. There's much to see and do there as well as wonderful places to paint.

These sketches are from the top of the cliff, looking out over the ocean.
I didn't get a photo of each stage of today's painting, but this is how I used black watercolor to establish the darkest areas, after the initial pencil drawing. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Punderson Lake

Punderson Lake     5" x 6"    Pastel       ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75

 DAY 29 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge, September 2017 

We spent this early evening at Punderson State Park in Newbury, Ohio at the marina. It was pleasant, as the weather is cooler and the marina was closed. That made it a perfect place to sit outside and start this painting. We had a blue heron, named Gilbert, who insisted that we knew that we were the guest at his residence! How did we know his name? A gentleman, called Skipper, came by from the campground, walking his dog named Gilligan. 

The sky was cloudy at that time and and we were not sure that we could get interesting light. Around 5:30 pm, the sun did break through the clouds for long enough for Bill to photograph the scene, while I quickly set up. I did get a chance to get a quick underpainting done in watercolor, with some color notes. Later it did become chilly enough, that we decided to head home. I then finished this in the studio.

Punderson State Park is a place that we took our children often, as they were growing up.  We've camped there and stayed in the Lodge. Good memories!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

View From Tinkers Cabin

View From Tinkers Cabin     6" x 6"     Pastel        ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75 
Day 28 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge, September 2017

Our church, The Chapel at Tinkers Creek,  is located on a 21 acres in Streetsboro, Ohio. The back part has a cabin that is used for our Youth Programs. This particular view is from the cabin, looking east. My husband and I were there to simply enjoy the sunset that evening. As I turned the opposite direction and I saw a lovely cloud formation with hints of blue, lavender, pink, and peach tones, equally as beautiful as the sunset itself. With the road leading back to the church, I thought of of a simpler time and an old country dirt road. That scene had to go on the  "must paint" list. 

Painting today, brought memories of the past 12 years, in this church. The people there have now become part of our family, supporting each other through good times and tough times as well.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Delphinium on Glass

Delphinium On Glass     5.25" x 8"      Pastel      ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $95

DAY 27 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge, September 2017

The delphiniums are still looking fresh today, so I decided to paint them in a still life. I placed them on my antique wood flat file that has a protective glass sheet on top. The sun shone brightly on the table, creating a wonderful reflection of the sheer curtains. I'm always pulled to reflections of any kind, whether it's still water or window glass on buildings. The glass vase had an interesting look with the water, and also, it reflected that image onto the table.

I got lost in painting this one and didn't take but two progress pictures. I started with a quick watercolor wash of the dark areas on paper that I already had toned. I like working on a darker surface. UArt is now producing a black sanded pastel paper.  I can hardly wait for my shipment to arrive in early October. Slowly, I added the color in areas all over the painting. Then, I began to define each background areas. I finished the flowers last.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Delphiniums       6" x 6"         Pastel         ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75

DAY 26 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge, September 2017

It's always fun to have a good reason to buy fresh flowers!  Delphiniums were always a delight to arrange in my days as a floral designer. They were not as easily available as they are today. I found these at my local supermarket floral department. Painting the subtle color changes was a bit of a challenge in pastels. 

1. I usually choose a darker underpainting, but this time I started with a dark blue on white Premier Pastel paper. 2. This time I chose to wet the pastel a bit to be able to move it around smoothly without getting a build-up of pastel too early. 3. I  chose a very dark blue Sennelier pastel to deepen the darkest values. Then I worked gradually, alternating the adding the subtle colors. All of the blossoms had different amounts of lavendars, blues, and creamy whites.

Monday, September 25, 2017


Chloe      6" x 6"      Pastel       ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75

DAY 25 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge, September 2017

This painting today is to honor a close friend of mine on the first anniversary of her death. My friend, Leigh, fought an illness for 13 years after her doctors gave her two years. Chloe, a rescued miniature collie, became her best buddy. Chloe loved Leigh as much as Leigh loved her, and they were inseparable. Chloe took Leigh for daily walks, and together they visited Chloe's favorite neighbors.  Chloe is very wise girl who chose a wonderful friend for her owner! 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Loren's Bouquet

Available $75
Loren's Bouquet    6" x 6"    Pastel      ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75

DAY 24 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge, September 2017

This bouquet caught my eye in a most unexpected place. My husband and I took our car in for maintenance at our favorite shop, Automotive Rehab, in Garrettsville, OH. The container of wildflowers was waiting on the showroom floor to be placed in a vase for the counter.

This repurposed 1951 Chrysler body makes for a creative service counter. Owners, Jon and Loren Martin have done a fantastic job restoring an historic Chrysler dealership for their auto repair shop. Loren adds an artistic touch with having fresh flowers on that counter. 
This is my reference photo for the painting.
These are my progress photos showing the stages of development. I started with a light drawing with vine charcoa on Uart 800 sanded pastel paper.  Then I used watercolor to do a value underpainting to establish the light and dark areas. I used a hint of watercolor to mark the colors of the flowers. When there are so many different colors, it's helpful to map them out early. Then the pastel painting begins. Having the watercolor wash underpainting allows the sanded paper to still still hold several layers of pastel without flaking off. To go directly to using pastel, it is easy to get too much build up that plugs the painting surface.

I must add, that if you are in need of a quality auto repair shop, this is the one. Loren and Jon are personable owners that pay attention to detail and deliver superior service in our area.  


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Foxglove at Brookgreen

Foxglove at Brookgreen    6" x 6"    Pastel       ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75

Day 23 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge, September 2017

 Upon arising this morning I walked down the hall, rubbed my eyes, yawned, and started this painting. And here's the real surprise, this was before coffee, no less! Miraculous benefits of painting daily are becoming apparent to me. 

Bill and I visited Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, SC. This is a sculpture garden and wildlife preserve with many lovely flowers and even a butterfly garden. I have known that the foxglove plant is used in making medication that benefits the heart. What I didn't know was that the plant itself is poisonous. There is a slight difference between a therapeutic amount and a fatal dose! I've been interested in painting medicinal plants after observing a garden displaying these at Northeastern Ohio Medical College in Rootstown, OH. We photographed those gardens so that I could paint them in the future. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Cathedral Falls

Cathedral Falls   5" x 8 "    Pastel    © Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $85

Day 22 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge, September 2017

Cathedral Falls is always an unexpected pleasure in every season. This is one of those roadside treasures that can be found on Route 60 near Gauley Bridge, WV.  We parked in a tiny lot just off the road, where the falls can easily be seen as the water flows into the New River. 

 By now, if you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that my husband and I love waterfalls, especially after a heavy rain.  We have often wondered just how many people drive by, never knowing what real beauty lies within their midst .

The last time we were there, I did this sketch of the falls. Today seemed like a good day to paint this scene from that watercolor sketch. I hope we get to visit there before the fall season is over. 

This is the first time that I've underpainted on an orange toned surface. It's really pretty ugly in that beginning stage to establish the values. In the next frame, I began to add some local color and then further developed the painting by adding the water and working to give shape to the trees. I'm working on UArt 800 sanded pastel paper that allows several layers of pastel to hold to the surface.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

North Chagrin Reservation

North Chagrin Reservation       6" x 6"      Pastel        ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75

Day 21 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge, September 2017

This is slightly upstream from Sulphur Springs in the Cleveland Metro Park System, North Chagrin Reservation. This photo was taken in late October when many leaves were down, yet there were plenty left, to create a blaze of golden light as the sun shone through at noon. The creek bed was almost dry with only a trickle of water and covered with leaves.

 Reflections, no matter how slight, have become a reminder to me to linger for a while, and take in the beauty around me. This particular park is a comfortable, peaceful place for me.  Reflecting on this 30 day project, I didn't expect to learn so much about myself and my art.   It has been exhausting on a few days, but exhilarating on the others. This Challenge has no rules or competition, or even any monetary prizes for best of show. The Challenge is in the commitment to one's self. It's nice to know that I'm not alone, with hundreds of participating artists worldwide. I will share a bit more of this whole experience at the end of the month.
A few progress photos....