En Plein Air – The Ugly, The Bad and The Good

Art, En Plein Air, Pastel

The Ugly, The Bad and The Good

Here is Week 11 of the Peaks. It was an interesting week. My inspiration had run dry. I decided to zoom in on Flat Top in my mind. It’s quite the evolution and this was the hardest to work through. The first one is as far as I got on location. The second one I added these ridges at home out of my memory. I felt lazy and did not want to add the clouds. I stepped back, squinted and called it good. I took the photo. Lo, and behold, it looked like a pile of stinky’ness left in the curb. Okay, Okay I say to the mountain, I’ll add your friends the clouds, while wiping away the “pile”. I put in shadows, purple and once again declared it done. I take a picture, email it to my painting partner and she sees a face in the middle of the mountain. I thought I was the only one who saw faces in things. ARgh. 


The final one is faceless and doesn’t look like a pile.

Pastel 11″ x 14″

En Plein Air – Watercolor Pencils

Art, En Plein Air, Watercolor Pencils

Here we are at week 10 of studying the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was raining this day. We sat under the porch and I used watercolor pencils. I love the combination of pencil lines and looseness I can play with in using this medium. Pastels and rain do not mix. Talk about leaving the cake out in the rain. This was just fun to do. 11 x 14 watercolor pencil

En Plein Air – Tree Taking Its’ Bow

Art, En Plein Air, Pastel

This was the ninth week of painting the Blue Ridge Mountains. Still painting from the same spot. The mountains decided to be in the background and I can feel them off in the distance. That tree asked to be the star from the beginning and I kept ignoring him. I think he’s had his day in the sun. Time for his bow. 11″ x 14″ Pastel on Sabretooth

En Plein Air – The mountains want to be purple

Art, En Plein Air, Pastel


The Peaks of Otter wanted to be purple

This was the eighth week of painting out doors. My children were visiting and we went to the D-Day Memorial and right during Eisenhower’s speech, a wasp flew up my skirt and bit me on each cheek. I could not sit on my allergic reactions. I was on the mend this day and still sore. Benadryl and Prednisone made for some tremulous dreaming! (Jimmy Buffet anyone?)

Everytime I paint at the Claytor Nature Center, I ask the mountains what they want to be painted. The Peaks of Otter were not giving up their secrets this day. I painted in the sun.When you paint in the sun, the painting will come out dark and those mountains were very dark. When I got home I experimented with purple and olive ochre. Not every painting is a home run I suppose. I will keep at it. 11″ x 14″ Pastel on Sabretooth

En Plein Air – Rain Today

Art, En Plein Air, Pastel



Rain Today on Sharp Top and Flat Top – The Peaks of Otter on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Mountains Week 7. Sharp top of the Peaks of Otter is the main character here. Creating art is a form of bravery. When it started to rain on those mountains and all the other scenery was punched forward it was a question of HOW to MAKE that happen in my painting. I had the mountains sketched in, they weren’t working. I could wait until the rain passed or….I could swipe over the mountains and make it rain. 11″ x 14″ Pastel on Sabretooth

En Plein Air – Cloudy Today

Art, En Plein Air, Pastel

My friend and I go out once a week a paint for most of the day. This was the sixth week of painting en plein air. I have studying the mountains from our vantage point but, the sky wanted center stage in this mountain view. I like to start at the top and work my way down, but in this case I worked on the mountains first. It was akin to saving the good bite for the last. I don’t remember adding so much pink. The painting is on display right now and when I see it again, I’m going to photograph it again. 11″ x 14″ Pastel on Sabretooth

En Plein Air – The mountains call for a wash in Week 5

Art, En Plein Air, Pastel

In this week five I focused on the Peaks of Otter (sometimes I call them the twin peaks because I can). I wanted to show the progression and remembered to take pictures of my work. This is an 11″ x 14″ Pastel on Sabretooth.

The first layer or under painting is the alcohol wash. The dark color is a green. After using black so much in my graphic design work, I stay away from it. I lay down swaths of color and spray 91% Isopropyl alcohol on the paper or my brush and start swiping. lillian-brue-art-peaks-1

The wash dries fast and I approach the painting with a vine charcoal stick, just to get shapes and define where I want things to go. Vine charcoal sticks are great for under painting pastels. lillian-brue-art-peaks-2

I got bolder with the colors in the third picture. If I could only stop there. lillian-brue-art-peaks-3

I defined the mountains more.lillian-brue-art-peaks-4

There’s a little gap in progression, as I was busy with the trees and small pond.lillian-brue-art-peaks-5

I softened the mountains and added the clouds. lillian-brue-art-peaks-6

The final version shows cloud shadows. This is what the mountains wanted to be today.lillian-brue-art-final-peaks


En Plein Air- Week 4 and Flat Top

Art, En Plein Air, Pastel

Week four of studying the Blue Ridge Mountains. This time it’s Flat Top of the Peaks of Otter. There was a cloud covering the top. I painted as I saw it, but after a fair critique by someone who knows a lot more than me, I adjusted the cloud so it did not look like a volcano about ready to erupt. The 2nd one is the final. 11″ x 14″ Pastel on Sabretooth

En Plein Air – What do the mountains want to look like today?

Art, En Plein Air, Pastel


Study, Week 3 of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’ve panned left some and zoomed out. Of course it is in my mind’s eye. I’ve included the small lake on the left and flat top is making his appearance. I started with a complimentary under painting of reds, oranges and purples. That day, the mountains wanted to be grayish. Hot day. Sun burned. So worth it. 11″ x 14″ Pastel on Sabretooth