"Christmas Lights on Shem Creek" - A Painting by Katherine M Schneider

"Christmas Lights on Shem Creek"
Pastel on marble dust prepared panel
12" x 9" unframed
Due to recent recent interest in my painting of holiday lights on Shem Creek, I'm re-posting the essay describing the process used to create the pastel on panel painting... Best wishes to you all for a Merry Christmas and and a peaceful New Year.

Christmas is a time for boat owners in Charleston to decorate their boats for the annual "Parade of Lights" in Charleston Harbor.

I recently saw a decorated sailboat docked by a popular seafood restaurant on Shem Creek.
The sight left me with a strong impression of the colorful lights hanging from the boat's rigging in the night sky and the bright reflections of the lights in the dark creek water.

I began working on the painting "Christmas Lights on Shem Creek" from drawings and photos back in the light and warmth of my studio. Here's a quick look into my studio set up for working in pastels.

My pastel taboret is custom built to hold many different types of pastels and drawing materials.

It's a design developed by master pastel artist, Daniel Greene, with whom I studied in New York.

The base of the taboret is made from an antique cast iron drawing stand that was used by the Charleston sculptor, Willard Hirsch, with whom I also studied.

When working in pastels I often use prepared pastel panels such as Ampersand pastel boards. I use many layers of pastel, often working into them with water and bristle brushes. I've found panels are sturdier than paper supports when using these vigorous pastel techniques.

For this painting, I used a grey sanded panel. I began with a light drawing in a mid tone, grey hard pastel to reserve the "tooth" of the painting surface for additional layers of softer pastel.

I worked from mid to lighter and darker values to establish the composition, checking often in a mirror to correct drawing errors and adjust my values.

A folded newspaper "dust catcher" under my forward tilted painting keeps excess pastel dust from falling onto the floor where it can become a toxic hazard if tracked around by shoes.
Barrier cream or plastic gloves are useful to keep pastel dust off my hands.

Although safeguards are important when working with pastels and the dust they produce, modern production techniques and less toxic pigments have made them safer to use.

The purity of the pigments and intensity of color in pastel paintings makes them well worth the extra effort in care and handling.


Michel McNinch said...

Hey there, enjoyed this post.


Katherine Muschick Schneider said...

Thanks, Michel. It's always nice to get positive feedback from fellow artists.
Liked your Christmas Poinsettia painting posted on your blog.
Merry Christmas!

suzanne cabrera said...

Wow...what a great glimpse you offer us into your process. Your pastel taboret is incredible!

Happy New Year!

Katherine Muschick Schneider said...

Thanks, Suzanne. It does help me to stay somewhat organized.
Happy New Year to you, too.

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