Storm at Dusk

BRP Dusting #7: Storm at Dusk, by Stephanie Berry, part of her Blue Ridge Parkway Series

Dusk is approaching when I finally head up to the Parkway. The sky in the west is thickening with clouds, and strong winds push against the trees. Whole ridgelines turn a paler, flurried green as the undersides of leaves are blown about. Spruce trees stand dark and dramatic against the gray sky.

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Black Mountain Range

Triptych of the Black Mountains by Stephanie Berry, pastel on paper

For days 3, 4, and 5 I decided to do a triptych of the Black Mountain Range, as seen from the Black Mountains Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was my first triptych, and a fun experiment. I will probably do more of these, because they present interesting challenges in consistency and perspective.

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Magic Dust Art

Work in Progress: Massie Gap, Virginia, a pastel painting by Stephanie Berry from a scene along the Appalachian Trail in Grayson Highlands, Virginia

I’ve been painting a lot. Or should I say dusting a lot, since pastels aren’t paint at all, but delicious, pure pigment with a small dash of binder. (That’s what makes them so captivating, by the way: their purity, and also that the light wraps around all those sweet little pigment particles, reflecting this way and that, creating a luminous glow.) 

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Trillium Shaman

Trillium Shaman: a pastel painting by Stephanie Thomas Berry
I love Spring in the Southern Appalachians: the trilliums, the orchids, the mosses, the ferns. I love watching the early, many-hued palette of spring move up the mountainsides: brilliant chartreuse birches, delicate taupe-orange sarvisberry crowned with white flowers, golden sassafras, and of course the delicate magenta maple blossoms. Life awakens in a flourish of laughter.

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On bluets and the characters of flowers

Culinary Decisions: a pastel painting of a wren contemplating a blue blister beetle among bluets, by Stephanie Thomas Berry
So the other day I went down to the river. It was late afternoon, and the sunlight was low and golden. I sat on the bank among a patch of bluets and began to sketch. It is hard for me to impart just how much I love these little blue-touched-with-lavendar flowers.  They seem to me to be the happiest of all the flowers. There’s not a serious one among the whole lot of them.

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Ferns, and advice on painting

Fernalicious! pastel on boardIf you find something you want to paint, don’t bother taking a photo. It’s a waste of time. Instead, settle into a spot and make a nice sketch. You may think that’s the real waste of time, because it definitely takes more time to sketch than even twenty photographs, but there is something about the image you create, the blending of you and your subject upon the paper, the quality of attention a sketch requires. All things that make for better source material than a photograph.

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