Posted in pastel painting

“Golden Pines” A Soft Pastel Painting

Hello creative ones! I am happy to be sharing one of my latest pastel paintings with you today. 🙂

I am finding that I am seeing myself more as a seasonal painter….although I have to admit that sometimes I am a little behind the season when I get around to painting my subjects.

While some of the United States is looking forward to or even starting to experience some spring-like weather, here in northern Indiana we are expecting snow and sleet for the next few days!

So today I bring you a wintery scene featuring some evergreen trees being lit with golden light.

I hope you enjoy this painting. And if you are curious about how I painted it, click on the link at the bottom of the post to see a time-lapse video on my YouTube channel.

Let me know if you like it!

My reference photo (copyright R. Sorrells)
Thumbnail and brown Clairfontaine Pastelmat paper with line sketch
Well into the process now…Needs just a bit more….
“Golden Pines”
Assorted soft pastels on Clairefontaine Pastelmat
6×8 in.
R. Sorrells, Artist

Till next time!


Posted in studio tip, thumbnail, Value thumbnail

Weekly Thumbnails: Week 3 (Plus a tip!)

Hello Creative Friends!

I am here to share week 3 of my thumbnail sketches. But before I do that, I would like to share a quick tip!

Most of you know that I am using two different art apps to create my thumbnails.  It’s fun, relaxing, versatile, and saves me time at the easel. (For info on the two apps I am using click here and scroll down the post.)

Within the first few uses of these apps I decided I also needed to purchase an Apple Pencil to do my thumbnails justice. For me, sketching with a finger on my iPad felt akin to fingerpainting with about the same results! 😦

That led me to purchase a 1st generation pencil to use with my older iPad. It works great!

All too soon, however, I discovered a minor, but annoying issue….the pencil is round, not hexagonal like the 2nd generation pencil, and will roll off of whatever you put it on—not good for the sensitive electronic stuff inside.

What to do??? 

Wrangle the metal clip off of one of my Micron Pigma pens!

Voila! No more rolling pencil….

Now on to this week’s thumbnails!



I used thumbnail #17 in a recent painting I will be sharing soon. It was created from a free reference photo offered by Susan Jenkins on her YouTube channel….More about that in another post.

Till next time, friends, try doing some thumbnails!


Posted in thumbnail, value, Value thumbnail

How Cropping Your Thumbnail Sketches Can Help You Create Stronger Paintings!

Hello everyone!

I hope this you are all finding time in this new year to follow your creative dreams!

So far this year I am succeeding at doing more in my artistic endeavors…painting in pastel, trying out new watercolor techniques, and even keeping up with my thumbnail sketches (fingers crossed).

As I have completed more thumbnails, I have discovered an unexpected bonus that I want to share with you. 🙂

Traditional thumbnails are usually done on paper with pen, pencils, or markers. They are small and are meant to be done quickly as a way to try out a variety of formats and compositions for a proposed painting before you invest time, money, and creative energy on a larger scale work.  The reasoning is that if a painting doesn’t work at this smaller size, it won’t work when it’s larger.

While producing thumbnails in this way doesn’t have to take a long time, it can easily turn into something that you skip altogether because it can feel like a chore….

As you know from my last few posts, I have recently begun using a few different art apps to help me create my thumbnail sketches (see my last few posts by scrolling down this page).

When I complete a sketch using these apps, they allow me to save the image I create to my Photos on my iPad.

From Photos I can select the image of a completed thumbnail, click on the “share” button, and then select “duplicate” from the menu which will place a copy of the image in photos right next to the original.

Then I simply select the duplicated image, and then select Edit.

My iPad’s photo editing is pretty basic, but one thing it does brilliantly is allow me to crop my thumbnails very quickly using a variety of sizes and formats. That means I don’t have to keep redrawing my original in order to try out new sizes and formats.

This saves time and can open up creative possibilities that I might not otherwise consider!

Here is an example of a recent thumbnail I did of a beach scene. I created this sketch using the iPastels app, and while I thought it’s ”okay”, I wondered if cropping could make it stronger. 

Original Thumbnail using iPastels

 I then duplicated the image and then cropped it into a variety of formats.

Vertical Format with a closer viewpoint


Square Format creates tension

Panoramic View

Extreme Vertical Format

As you can see from the examples above, you can easily try out a variety of formats, zoom in or out on your focal point, and just generally see if your proposed painting will “work” at this smaller scale.

It can also serve you in the future. Let’s say that I paint my picture using the square format, but a few weeks or even months later I decide to experiment with a panoramic view. I can quickly and easily do that just by duplicating my original thumbnail and cropping it into a panoramic format.

I hope this inspires you to put your photo cropping tools to use on your thumbnails.

Happy painting!