Allegheny River Reflections, pastel, 12, x 16 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Allegheny River Reflections

Allegheny River Reflections, pastel, 12, x 16 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Allegheny River Reflections, pastel, 12, x 16 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

This is a view of the Allegheny River in Western Pennsylvania, seen from Tarentum. I took a quick walk through the park along the river on a beautiful autumn day and took as many photos as I could. The hill is very high and steep behind this row of trees and otherwise the hill comes down to the bank of the river, but for this short stretch the row of trees was separated from the hill, deep in bluish shadow, while the trees caught the late afternoon sunlight, reflecting on the fairly smooth water on the warm, calm day.

I knew I wanted to keep this loose, just capturing the visual of the trees and their reflection and the contrast with the bright sunlight, bright leaves, and dark hillside. This painting is pretty much what I visualized that day as I studied the trees, the hilside and the river, and I know my heart skipped a beat when I walked away to get a perspective, then came back to look at it.

This was my painting from Day 26 in the September 2017 daily painting challenge, when I’ve both planned outings to sketch and paint and gathered images from my photo archives I’ve been waiting to paint.

I used Strathmore charcoal paper, which is lightweight and has a finer texture than the other pastel paper I’ve used. When paper is made the pulp is poured into a mold that has a screen in the bottom of it. The paper pulp is spread on the screen, then pressed into it with a piece of heavy felt which helps to pull the water from the pulp. As it dries the paper holds the screen pattern on one side but is relatively smooth on the back where the felt is pressed into it. I considered using the “felt” side, which has only a slight texture, but then decided I wanted to use the texture to build the detail in the trees.

I had intended to use navy blue paper for this painting because of the bluish cast of autumn, but I had no navy blue left in the pad of paper so I used black, but liberally added navy blue in the shadows to complement the warm yellows and oranges.

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