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....

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Floral Tradition

Floral Tradition      6" x 6"      Pastel       ©Sheila Ashley Liston

DAY 20 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge, September 2017

The floral department in my grocery store welcomes me as I enter the store to do routine shopping. Although there's nothing routine about the color that beckons me to linger a while, breathing in the fragrance of fresh flowers.

While I painted today, I realized just how much colorful flowers mean to me. It goes back to seeing my grandmother cutting flowers in the garden,, and carrying them in her apron to the house where she tenderly put them in water. My mother loved flowers and did the same. You can imagine their delight, when my first job was as a floral designer in the neighborhood flower shop. My daughter, Michelle, worked as a floral designer through her college years in that same shop! 

That training and emotion has become a part of my story as an artist today.  Designing flower arrangements afforded me the opportunity to learn color, shape, and depth in a 3-D form. In painting now, I have learned to apply different techniques giving the optical illusion of depth, and yet the basic color principles are the same.  

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Cloud Watching

Cloud Study II       5" x 7"     Pastel       ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75

DAY 19 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge, September 2017

Why is it that a seeming simple subject takes more study and effort that a more complex one?

For me it is the fact that there are no definite shapes as clouds are continually in motion and the light changes rapidly as the sun is setting. Other subjects have specific shapes and colors that describe the objects, therefore it's easier to draw or paint.  After studying cloud formations in real time and photographing them, I'm learning to simply record an impression of what I see. It really is just staying in the moment and being present in the experience, that allows the spiritual component to enter into the mix. 

Packing the pastels and moving outdoors, gives me the opportunity to make color notes as to the particular colors that I see that day. Who can argue with the Master's color palette? I like to call my sunset experiences, "God's Light Shows". 

Try it sometime...just sitting and watching the colors and shapes change as the sun goes down, and then stay a while longer to see what happens.  WARNING: do not drive and sky watch at the same time!!!  

Monday, September 18, 2017

Bailing Season

Bailing Season      6" x 8"      Pastel     ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $125

DAY 18 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge, September 2017

Ohio's farmlands are especially appealing to my eye this time of year. The tops of the round bales of hay seem to catch the sunlight late in the day leaving long shadows across the landscape. The fall colors contrasted against the blue skies with just a hint of pink at the horizon makes a beautiful combination of colors. The sunlight at the "golden hour" casts its own glow creating a beautiful warm palette that begs to be painted. This time of day is fleeting as it occurs about 1 hour before sunset when the sun is low in the sky. 


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Roaring Silence

Roaring Silence     6" x 6"    Pastel     ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75

DAY 17 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge, September 2017

Bright colors in the sky caught my attention when I experienced hot air balloons lifting off for the first time. That festival continues today in Ravenna, Ohio in mid September.  I quickly became an enthusiast, visiting balloon festivals in other states. I have painted hot air balloons many times and some as commissions.  Two of my paintings have a home in unusual places, simply because of the uplifting nature of the subject. One hangs in a psychologist's office in a federal prison, and the other in a medical examiners' office in a medical school. 


Friday, September 15, 2017

Sunny Lake

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

DAY 15 Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge, September 2017

Well, I made it to the halfway point today. It was a pleasant day to paint outdoors. My husband and I visited Moebius Nature Center, where I painted this view of Sunny Lake Park . Part way through I realized that my glasses were safely tucked away in my purse in the car. What you see below is how the painting looked when we left there today.

When I got back to my studio and examined it with glasses on, I determined that it needed to be cleaned up and a few minor changes. Can you see what I changed?

Moebius Nature Center is a beautiful property on Mennonite Rd in Aurora, named in honor of Ruth and Art Moebius, long-time residents. The Moebius' donated many acres of land to the city and were deeply involved in environmental conservation. Check out their website at for details about the many programs and events held there throughout the year.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Cloud Study

Cloud Study      6" x 6"     Pastel       ©Sheila Ashley Liston

DAY 13 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days, September 2017 Challenge

This is a perfect location for watching sunsets from a parking lot in the middle of my town. With pastels in hand, I can set up an easel there or simply observe from my car. Clouds bring some interesting challenges,while appearing simple at the same time. Like a four year old child, clouds are in constant motion. Just when I think I have the colors down correctly, they shift again. I've been told that one of the best ways to paint them it to first study their colors and make color notes. 

The beauty of painting 30 paintings in 30 days is that one learns to make color decisions quickly.  As anything that we want to do better, practice is the key. How many times have we heard this before? The act of doing these small paintings in a short time has taught me to find new stragegies that work for me. For example, I like to have my boards prepared in advance and my pastels laid out in a order that makes sense to me. I'm learning to work more efficiently in choosing my color palette before starting the work and laying those pastels aside. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Farmland in Ohio    6" x 6"    Pastel      ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75

Day 12 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days, September 2017 Challenge

Country drives are something my husband and I enjoy. Our area in Northeast Ohio still has many beautiful working farms. Some farms in our area have been sold to developers for building new homes. As farmers age, frequently there is no family member willing to take on the family business. Then it becomes a financial necessity to sell off the farm to provide a retirement income for the owner. Some of the landowners have donated development rights to the State of Ohio or local governments to protect productive farmland from conversion to non-agricultural use. I feel compelled to paint some of the remaining farms in my own form of preservation.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Church in Aurora

The Church in Aurora    9" x 12"    Pastel      ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $150

Day 10 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days, September 2017 Challenge

This is an historic Church in my city in Aurora, Ohio. It has beautiful nighttime lighting that just seems to reach out to me. On this particular evening in the fall, the rain and wind had started to bring some leaves down. The reflection of the church itself cast a soft illumination on the street in front.  The smell of fall was in the air. Our car in the library's parking lot served as a studio that night, until there was no more light to see my pastels. I finished it today in the comfort of my studio.
Well I am one third of the way through the challenge. It was hard to focus on painting over the weekend, as with many people, my mind was on Hurricane Irma and its' effects on the people of the southeastern states. We have family and friends in a few of those states. We do continue to pray for the recovery of the people there.

My husband and I found this Bible in the dumpster behind our shop a few years ago. I wanted to try my hand at Bible Journaling with making art directly on its pages. I was reluctant to try this in my other Bibles.  Since this one was already a bit dirty and dog-eared, I gave it a try.  This one seemed to speak to the situation with the hurricanes and floods this weekend.

Buttermilk Falls, Long Lake, NY

Buttermilk Falls       6" x 6"    Pastel       ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75

Day 9 of Thirty Paintings in  Thirty Days, September 2017 Challenge

We found Buttermilk Falls in October a few years ago. It's not far off the road near Long Lake, NY, although it takes some climbing down to the riverside to see this view. We enjoyed our day there relaxing, painting, and photographing the falls. If you're in the area, the trip would not be complete without a visit to Hoss's Country Store that has just a bit of everything one would need in the Adirondacks! 

The day we were there, it was quiet, perfect fall day with no other visitors. I was able to get comfortable on the rocks, and do some sketching. I could paint these falls many times and it would still bring back the memories of that day.

Here's a few progress shots of the method that I used for this painting.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Great Falls of Tinkers Creek

Great Falls of Tinkers Creek     6" x 6"    ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $75

Day 8 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days, September 2017 Challenge

Great Falls at Tinkers Creek is a part of the Bedford's Viaduct Park in the village of  Bedford, Ohio. It's a paved walk down to the falls in an urban area, where one can see the ruins of an old mill and dam. My husband and I love waterfalls and we were willing to do some research to find this one, as it is not well advertised. The waterfall was beautiful in the fall. 
I painted this from memory and then finally looked at our photos and found some changes that I wanted to make in the tree area. 

I made additional changes to the background tree area. This represents the hilly area across the gorge where the a significant amount of leaves had fallen. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Backyard Buddy

Backyard Buddy   5" x 6"    Pastel    ©Sheila Ashley Liston

Day 7 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days, Sept 2017 Challenge with our frequent backyard visitor.

We've had a family of three bunnies living in our backyard this summer. They seem to love the food that we provide for the birds and in exchange we are entertained by their presence.
 I've learned one important fact in painting have to work fast!

Here are some progress shots from beginning to the finished painting shown above. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Glade Creek

Glade Creek    4" x 8"    Acrylic   ©Sheila Ashley Liston
Available $85

Day 6 of Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days, September 2017. 

As I stood on the bridge, Glade Creek was sending rushing water under the bridge, past the mill and on to the waterfalls below.  Glade Creek runs through Babcock State Park in West Virginia where the Glade Creek Grist Mill is located. (See blog on September 1, 2017)

I grew up in Dille, West Virginia with a creek running in front of our house. This scene reminded me of the times that it would rain so heavy that it seemed to touch the bottom of the bridge leading to our house. It was moving so fast that I would actually feel like I could lose my balance while looking down through the spaces between the boards. As a child, I believed that the water would never go above that level.  The sound was actually soothing as I would sleep. 

In June of 2015, flash flooding in West Virginia took out the bridge where I lived. This was when flooding affected people over a large part of the state. As a child, I never imagined so much devastation could have ever occurred.