Impressionistic Landscape in Pastels

Foulweather Bluff, Kitsap Co. pastel painting

“Foulweather Bluff,”  Kitsap County painting was inspired by a simple morning walk along the shoreline with my dog Laura when we lived in the Pacific Northwest. We lived on a small hillside overlooking  Admiralty Inlet and the Olympic Mountains with the beach  a mere half mile away.

Foulweather Bluff, Kitsap Co. Washington,  pastel painting
Foulweather Bluff, Kitsap County Washington, overlooking Admiralty Inlet Pastel painting

I’d taken several photos which I’d tucked away and left forgotten. A long time passed and I finally rediscovered the photos.  Memories of the beautiful day and our lovely walk flooded in.

I composed these photos into one image, not trying to duplicate a photo.

Rather,  what I was trying to do, was to convey the mood and atmosphere I felt the day of the walk.  To obtain  “the impression of the place,”  not the specific rock, tree stump or mail box number.


Pastels soft, sensitive, evocative

Pastels are a soft, sensitive and evocative medium that delivers a colourful punch when needed.  They’re a dry medium, so they are very easy to just put down or pick up and start again at any time. I don’t have to worry about nasty hard edges drying with my soft pastels. I like the soft blurry edges for depth.

I have a favourite brand of soft pastels, Unison.

These are extremely soft and buttery, melt on the paper making colour blending and soft edges super easy.  Definitely worth the money. I also use other brands,  Art Spectrum,  Sennelier,  Schminke and Rembrant.  They’re good quality and have a good range of colours.


Colours in Foulweather Bluff, Kitsap County pastel painting

I’ve used White, cerulean, several lavenders, burnt umber, prussian blue, yellow ochre, burnt sienna –  all working together to create a cool dominance. The tiny bits of burnt sienna and yellow ochre balance it out and prevent it from going too cold.

These colours of  soft pastels were blended, merged together, for areas of distance and background.  Skimmed over the top for texture useful for foreground areas then,  used sharp &  tight without any softening for areas I wanted the eye to be drawn towards.

Pastel colours have a rich vibrant intensity that I find delightful. Artist quality pastels, the good brands are archival. These paintings will not fade!  It does depend on the specific brand and colours you are using though.


Versatility in Pastel techniques and applications

Pastels are quite versatile. If you wish, you can dampen your paper first and then apply them for a wet fluid look. They can be great tools for “hand-colouring” your black and white photographs. If you’re so inclined use them on cardboard, newsprint, cartridge papers for a non-archival product.

Pastels can be used on different types of papers equally successfully, depending upon what outcome you’re after.

Sometimes I use Hot Press watercolour paper when I want a fast quick drawing type of pastel painting.  I’ve used the gritty toothed pastel coloured paper and enjoy using it damp.  Stonehenge, Coventry Rag,  Roma Fabriano papers are also  great to work on.

 pastels on board
Delicate pastels on board


The delicate pastel sample colours above was worked onto a pastel board, which I actually liked. I didn’t have high hopes that I’d love it, but it had a rather nice feel to it, so I’ll be using it again.


I just have one small issue with pastels, the same one most everyone else does  –  they are a wee bit messy.

But,  really now.   Art IS messy.   So, lets throw caution to the winds  and paint, draw, splatter, spray  to our hearts content!

Go Ahead. Make a Mess.



Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at and,

4 thoughts on “Impressionistic Landscape in Pastels

    1. Thank you for your kind words, its great to hear that I was able to convey the scene and make it beautiful for others too.


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