Split Rail Fence, Dufferin County 20″ x 28″
Some of my pastel paintings and pen and ink drawings are available to rent or purchase through the Art Etc. Gallery Shop, at the Burlington Art Centre, 1333, Lakeshore Road, Burlington. I’m pleased to be included in a collection of original works by established and emerging Canadian artists.
My subject here is a split rail or snake fence, that I found just outside Orangeville, in Dufferin County, Ontario. These picturesque and durable fences are constructed of white cedar that grows in swampy areas throughout Ontario, especially where there is limestone under the soil.
In September, I made a very abbreviated start on an oil pastel demonstration at the end of my presentation to the Burlington Fine Arts Association at the Burlington Art Centre. I didn’t have time to show the group much about how I work in the allotted time, but I promised I’d post it when it was finished. Here’s what it looked like in progress:
I began by drawing in the major shapes and blocking in patches of colour.
Wheat field and Willows Step 1
At step two, below, I emphasized the orange/pink glow where the sun shines on and through the wheat stalks.
Wheat field and Willows Step 2
By the third stage, I have worked into the shapes with more colour – building layers with my Sennelier Oil Pastel sticks and Sakura Cray-Pas Specialist Oil Pastel sticks, while also scratching into the surface with a palette knife and a bamboo skewer. I find that by using different brands of pastel I can manipulate the texture and colour better. I also use oil pastels made by Holbein and Caran D’Ache.
Wheat field and Willows Step 3
Finally, I refined the surface, added more colour in the sky, defined the shapes and shadows of the willows and added additional contrasting complimentary marks throughout, but especially in the foreground wheatfield. Notice the distant roadway as well – a last-minute addition.
Wheat field and Willows by Aleda O’Connor Oil Pastel on Wood Panel 18″ x 24″
Some of you know that Barry Coombs and I moved to Hamilton – 45 minutes west of Toronto – in May. Six months later I can report that we are thrilled by our decision, by our new home that has enough space for both of us to have studios, a guest room, plenty of storage space and a big garden in a lovely neighbourhood, close to the lake and farmers market. What more could anyone want? Barry had many connections here, having taught at the Dundas Valley School of Art (DVSA) for some 20 years, and I have been most warmly welcomed by absolutely everyone I have met, from Barry’s former DVSA colleagues and students, to our new neighbours and the folks at the Burlington Art Centre (BAC) where I recently gave a presentation about my oil pastels to the Burlington Fine Art Association. We have become regulars at the James Street North Art Crawl, and last month I attended some of the screenings of the Art Gallery of Hamilton’s World Film Festival. (Heck – all three venues were less than 10 minutes away.)
Bicycle, 3″ x 4″
Pen, Ink and White Charcoal on Toned Paper
To top off this perfect beginning, my little drawing Bicycle was chosen for the Viewers Choice Award at the opening of the Second Annual Miniature Show at Hamilton’s 337 Sketch Gallery. I’m very proud to be part of this show that contains some exquisite works of art – none of which are larger than 3” x 4” or cost more than $200. (I have my eye on a few beauties.) The show runs until October 29 at 337 Ottawa Street, Hamilton.
I was the guest speaker for the Burlington Fine Arts Association this week – an exciting first for me. I am so grateful to Victoria Pearce for inviting me to talk about this rewarding medium and to the Association members for their warm response to my work. I briefly discussed the origin and history of oil pastels, the artists who have inspired and influenced my work, and demonstrated my set-up and materials. As you can see I started a new pastel painting and I’ll post the finished work when it’s done. The event was held at the Burlington Art Centre, a wonderful facility not far from our new home in Hamilton.