pastel painting of stormy sunset

How Small Beneath the Sky, Pastel

How Small Beneath the Sky, Pastel, 16 x 20, 2020. The original is available along with digital, giclee and canvas prints as well as greeting cards are also available.


pastel painting of stormy sunset

How Small Beneath the Sky, 16 x 20, pastel © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I don’t know what it was about this image as a photograph that stayed with me from the time I took it. It’s that sense of my tiny self, smaller than one of those dots in the valley below, under the huge sky above, the sense of infinity as night draws down, and eternity as a warm autumn day changes over to cold winds and an incoming storm.

I finally painted it. I had always envisioned this and other sky paintings as moderately large, and 16 x 20 was a good size for this one. I used a piece of smooth deep charcoal matboard coated with my favorite transparent pastel ground, Golden Acrylic Ground for Pastels. I painted it freehand, no tracing or measuring, as if I was standing out there watching the scene en plein air. It’s as close to the real thing I as can get in my studio. And, of course, I would not be painting this en plein air under those conditions, so it works for me.

I love amazing skies and that was my first draw to the idea for the photo, but the tiny lights below became an integral part of this image and gave it its title.

I took the photo in 2011 and shared it on my photo blog with a narrative, but the image stayed with me. In 2016 I looked it up again and wrote a poem and named my painting after that poem. Now as a painting it’s hit the major categories of my creative efforts.

Here is the narrative:

Rain had fallen intermittently all day, but the day had been steadily dark and cold even without falling rain. But as often happens on long rainy days, the clouds broke at about sunset to give a view of faded blue sky trimmed along the edges with heavy clouds, offering reflected light but no direct sunlight. Suddenly the autumn leaves shone again even in the cooler light. I carefully watched the light, deciding that when my errand was done, or as soon as I could, whichever came first, I’d head for my favorite ridge to photograph what there was of the sunset, hoping for lots of red from the humidity in the air and sunrays from the layers of clouds breaking up, but I’d take what I could get.

No such dramatics were in the plan for this evening, but I felt the valley settle into night as I watched the clouds march steadily from the north, hearing only the wind as it swept from far beyond the horizon across my face, tugging at my hair and skirt on the hilltop where I stood, one tiny dot of a figure in this complicated and beautiful landscape, chilling my fingers with the first real cold of winter in its direct and determined path. In the center is Carnegie, somewhere in there is my house, and all of the familiar streets and scenes of my days reduced to a few amorphous blots of color, light and shadow.

In just minutes the north wind had carried the cloud cover over the valley once again like a blanket, leaving the valley in deep shadow but for the dots of light collected in the velvet darkness, small shreds of red showing through at the horizon; the sun has not given over yet, there is still some fire in its day.

And here is the poem from 2016:

How Small Beneath the Sky

Tiny toy buildings,
fluttering ribbons of roads,
arcs of light that illuminate our night are but pinpoints in the velvet earth below;
How small beneath the sky.

Poem © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Below is the framed version of the painting.

How Small Beneath the Sky framed.

How Small Beneath the Sky framed.

This is my painting from Day 7. See other paintings in this and other painting challenges on the page Creative Challenges.


Shipping within the US is included in the cost of each print.

Prints up to 16″ x 20″ are shipped flat in a rigid envelope. Larger prints are shipped rolled in a mailing tube unless otherwise requested; flat shipping is an extra cost because it’s oversized.


The giclees are printed on acid-free hot press art paper for a smooth matte finish using archival inks. Giclee is the highest quality print available because the technique uses a dozen or more ink ports to capture all the nuances of the original painting, including details of the texture, far more sensitive than any other printing medium. Sometimes my giclees look so much like my originals that even I have a difficult time telling them apart when they are in frames.

I don’t keep giclee prints in stock for most of my works. Usually I have giclees printed as they are ordered unless I have an exhibit where I’ll be selling a particular print so there is a wait of up to two weeks before receipt of your print to allow for time to print and ship.


Digital prints are made on acid-free matte-finish natural white 100# cover using archival digital inks. While digital prints are not the quality of a giclee in capturing every nuance and detail of color, texture and shading, I am still very pleased with the outcome and usually only I as the artist, could tell where detail and color were not as sharp as the original. Digital prints are only available up to 11″ x 17″ and some of the prints are cropped to fit standard mat and frame sizes.


Because the standard size canvas prints are not proportional to the original painting, canvas prints of this painting will have a portion cropped off.

I usually have at least one of the smaller sizes of canvases on hand, but order larger ones as they are ordered because I have limited storage space. Smaller canvases are a 3/4″ in depth, Canvases 12 x 16 and larger are 1-1/2″ in depth. I set them up so the image runs from edge to edge, then the sides are black or white or sometimes I slip in a color that coordinates with the painting. This canvas mirrors the edges of the image around the sides.


I do all my own framing and can custom frame a print for you. Please ask.

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© 2022 | | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.