Ranch in the Round

40″x8″ pastel on sanded paper

Ghost Ranch, NM – plein air

A 4 painting day is a good day. This was a good one. I set a lofty goal for my students and they ALL did it! We captured Ghost Ranch in the round.

We painted the 4 paintings over the course of the day, the only requirement was that the horizon line had to match up from one painting to the next. At the end of the day, we took them back and lined them up in the studio and tried to make it believable. That was my favorite part! It was like solving a puzzle. The sky changed so much over the course of the day, it was fun making the transitions work from one painting to the next.

Quiet Meadow

4″x8″ oil on panel

To some, this might be an unkept median. To me it is a point of beauty on my walk to school with my daughter.

If you were to photograph the Meadow, it would be mostly green, I chose to add violets in place of some of the greens because they are quiet and peaceful. I am delighted with the result, the painting looks the way the meadow feels to me, therefore my mission is accomplished.

Hope Blooms

20″x16″ oil on canvas

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” -Lady Bird Johnson

I posted a study for this painting last week. Here is the finished painting. I love native prairie, they are wild, unpredictable, and beautiful. Like life they can be messy, or thorny at times. This spring has been a breathtaking show of color, each week the color changing slightly.

Plain Air Pastel Supplies

I love to paint outside on location. I find paintings done from life almost always have a wonderful liveliness and vibrancy. Managing equipment on location is something I have spent the better part of two decades figuring out. I have had several people ask me for a breakdown of my supplies, so without further ado…

Above is what is currently in my plein air backpack:

EASEL – I use one of 2 easels for pastels

I love the Mabel mini field easel. It is easy to use, easy to pack out, and it holds a rigid pastel box very securely. It is a handsome wooden easel (which appeals to me), and it has a reasonable price tag. The only downside I see is that it is a little long to fit in a small suitcase.

I also use a Tripod with a Panel holder and a Easel butler. This works well with a bungee cord hold the pastel box to the easel butler arms. This set up (pictured above) is lighter weight, and slightly smaller than the Mabef easel. I use it when I am also going to be painting in oil, or traveling by plane. I store the panel holder and easel Butler in the zipper bag with the tripod.


I love Uart 400 grit paper. I carry it, cut to size, and gator board panels slightly bigger than that paper. I also use wet dry sandpaper (400 grit) that I purchase from an industrial supply company.


I carry a mix of pastels in a Heilman box, my pastels are a mix of soft and nupastels, with colors chosen for where I am going to be. I have many kinds of pastels; Great American, Terry Ludwig, and Sennelier (Sennelier half sticks only not full sticks). I organize them by value and temperature.

I carry a number of other things:

Notecards, grey markers, and a pen for making notes, labeling paintings, and doing value studies. Gloves, baby wipes, and a small pop up trash can. Clear envelopes to put finished artwork in, this allows me a practical way to show people unfinished paintings without them smearing. A portfolio to store finished work in. Clips and tape to hold paper to the support panel, I love bankers clips because they easily slide, so I can paint an entire painting edge to edge. Apron, Sunhat, insect repellent, sunscreen, snack, and water. I use a sturdy school sized backpack to hold all these items.

I keep this pack loaded in case an opportunity ever pops up. I also have an almost identical setup that has no easel and has a smaller version of everything. I will post that tomorrow.

Happy painting! Juliana