I accompanied Jerome and a pair of friends up the mountain today on a (for them) fly fishing expedition. While they practiced casting, I rehearsed sketching using NuPastels on a Strathmore drawing pad, to see if the medium would suit me on our imminent trip to Spain. (We leave on Wednesday, and I would not take my oils even if I could -- I'll have little chance to paint.)
I have sketched outdoors before, but always representationally. I wanted to see if I could, first, go abstract and, second, make the NuPastels work for me. I sat by the stream, breathed in the fine autumn air, felt the sun falling across my shoulders, and absorbed the color palette around me. I started with a shape or two from the hillside across the stream, then ignored the scene and painted. I struggled with the colors so much that I didn't do much with composition. But the point was to test the materials, not produce a painting. (Pastels are work. Give me oils any day.) In addition to test-driving the materials, I was able to explore the medium enough to be satisfied that it will do. I am a novice at it, and "it ain't oil & cold wax", but it will do. In fact, it will give me a chance to focus on some things like edges and value, two elements pretty much missing from my effort today.