Exploring Landscape in Pastel~ Marsh Series

Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in Plein Air Painting
Pastel Study of Marshes by Melody Phaneuf

Marsh at Low Tide, pastel study by Melody Phaneuf


The Truth Cannot be Told  ~Lao Tse

There is an authenticity and resonance when color, texture and the impression of light congeal in a painting to express the effect of what is observed. This is a thrilling moment. The experience of truth is the reward in painting from Nature.

I often use pastel and small studies to explore combinations that unravel the immediacy of effect as a prelude to larger, more involved paintings . Smaller work quickly chronicles dynamic color and elusive lighting situations. This practice helps me store in memory defining aspects and, without too much difficulty, I can later expand on it.

The coastal marshes are especially colorful and lovely in autumn light. The pastel medium seems to lend itself beautifully to the textural quality of the grasses, Interweaving strokes of color that simulate the radiant effect of sunlight on the marsh. Each day is slightly different, revealing the progression of seasonal light.

In addition to pleasing color and texture, this series is satisfying to me because of  the abstract patterning. Despite the simplicity, each has an undeniable presence and an essence of truth that can be recognized by the unity of effect.