Thursday, March 15, 2018

Waiting, not Waiting

Pastel, 9x12 on Wallis

As the tide comes in, the gulls often wait at the edge of the wave ready to grab any morsel of unwary fish that comes.  They seem almost made of stone until the moving tide encourages them take wing.  The sense of quiet and unhurried patience of the gulls belies the breaking waves only a few yards away.
The "original" that was posted yesterday bothered me - it was somehow incomplete. Decided to add the sanderling and change the title - now the picture tells a story.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Pastel Workshop GNG St. Augustine, FL

Rick Petersen Pastel Workshop

Georgia Nick Gallery, St. Augustine

Mondays, 1-3 PM, March 12 - April 16, 2018

This workshop is offered to with two objectives: 
1. To help you turn photographs into "keeper" paintings
2. To take the mystery out of pastels so that you will be comfortable working with them

The class size will be small with only a maximum of 6 places so that I can give every participant special attention.  I welcome all skill and experience levels, so if you have never tried pastels or if you would like to expand your exposure, this could be the class for you.

The workshop is being offered at $125 for 6 sessions with a make-up if it is desired.  Since space is limited, a $25 reservation fee will hold our place.

To make a reservation or for information, please contact me by comment or by e-mail.  I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

First Light, Vilano Beach

Pastel, 9x12 on UArt 400

In the early morning as the light of day begins to grow, the reflected pink and golden clouds bath the wet sand and breaking waves with wonder.  A few gulls seem to question the presence of any who venture into their world of wonder.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Early Evening

Pastel, 9x12 on UArt

With the departing day, the sunset over the beach and water rewards the few who remain into the evening.

Saturday, December 16, 2017


Pastel on paper - 16x12

Dusty is nearly 30 pounds of king-cat.  I wanted to capture the of nobility that I see radiated from his face.  My focus began with the eyes and the way Dusty looks at his world with authority and kindness.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Last of Autumn

Last of Autumn

Pastel, 6x6 on UArt

As an exercise, I set myself a limit of 35 minutes to do this painting.  

I did this small study based on sketches and photos of a branch of salt marsh near my home.  This is a view from the sidewalk beside a busy 6-lane parkway.  The traffic is all forgotten here as summer has gone, autumn is passing, and the marsh lies waiting for winter.

Note: 11/28/17 Evening - I punched some of the values, changed the distance, and took a better photo.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Rick's Rules #2 - Elegance

Elegant – Design with elegance through simplicity

Mayo Marsh - Broadview
“Being elegant is being pleasingly ingenious and simple.”

Now that you have a motive for the painting and you have decided what you want to say, what in the view before you is essential to that message?  Is there anything that will obviously detract or distract from that message?  What can be eliminated from the painting without changing or lessening your message?

Simplicity begins with the earliest stages of design as you choose a subject and select an idea.  Develop a composition with objects, abstract shapes, values, and colors that clarify your motive – your main idea and emotion.  Eliminate everything that is distracting to your motive and vision.  Among the remaining elements, select only those that will support your motive or whose exclusion from the painting would distract from your vision.  Don’t forget that sometimes an element in the scene needs to be changed, moved, or replaced; or an element needs to be added to the design to help explain or emphasize your motive.  At this point, you should be nearing the irreducible minimum for your message.

Now that you have an idea of what your painting should contain, you can develop your composition around those elements.  Be careful as you build your composition that you do not introduce without good reason any elements that may distract from your motive.  It is no crime to change or modify your motive if you discover that another idea or emotion inspires you more, but do so deliberately.

The most difficult part of achieving elegance in simplicity is rejecting good and often beautiful elements from the composition because their very “beauty” distracts the eye from your objective.  Elegant simplicity can help you achieve the greatest beauty in your painting.


I took the photo above of a view of the salt marsh near my home.  I have often been inspired by this view with the tall pines on the back edge of the marsh and the reflections in the water.  As the photo shows, this view contains a multitude of ideas that would make a good painting.  My first step was to make a sketch with notes to record my inspiration, and this is the sketch I made on-site.

Mayo Marsh - field sketch
I was standing on a sidewalk beside a 6-lane parkway when I did this drawing, so it is somewhat abbreviated.  I made some notes and did a few adjustments for composition.  My goal here was to capture the essence of the day and my response to the scene.  I drive by this place almost every day, and each time I'm reminded that beauty surrounds me everywhere if I only take the time to look.

Mayo Marsh - Detail sketches
From my notes and guided by the photo, I made detail sketches of areas of the view that inspired me.  For each sketch, I made notes to guide me as I decide what to select for the "final" drawing.  Putting this together in a trial composition and drawing is the next step in the process, so the accuracy of sketching and quality of observation in the sketch is critical.

Rick’s Rules for Painting

These "rules" are my own principles of painting developed over time for my personal use.  My goal is to use and apply these steps in all my painting efforts.