Aug 10, 2010

Mytoi Gardens, Martha's Vineyard

Mytoi Bridge  5" x 7" pastel on sanded board

Just recently my husband and I took our annual trip to Martha's Vineyard with some friends. The Vineyard is special to me because we went there early in the season for our first wedding anniversary by prop plane compliments of a friend and pilot. At the time I was suffering from some anxiety in planes and yet in the tiny 4-person aircraft I had no trouble at all. Maybe because the trip from Lincoln RI to the Vineyard was just high up enough to see the island the whole way, and still make out many familiar landmarks below us as we flew. In any case, it was a magical flight with some friends and that began a great weekend. For our first trip there together we toured the island in early May before the crowds, and I took loads of photos of the landscape.

Now we generally make it back in early summer, and meet up with a larger group of friends there for the solstice. This year we rented a Jeep and tried to find some out of the way places that we hadn't seen last time while on the bus circuit.

One new attraction for us was Mytoi Gardens. Located on Chappaquiddick, to the East side of the island is the Japanese garden included as a refuge protected by the Trustees of the Reservations. It's a meandering walk through a beautifully cultivated landscape, over bridges and a pond. Very peaceful (except for the horseflies that favored  my husband).

Well I am just now getting a chance to paint from some of my new photos taken there. I thought this time I would try a out a sample of Pastelbord that I picked up a few weeks back. The board is thick enough to not bend when worked (like a thin masonite) but coated with a sanded white layer. You can also paint on the board, so I tried a watercolor underpainting to get a feel for what it can do.

no - not painted by a two-year-old!

I have to say, the surface was AWESOME to work with. My underpainting was a bit sloppy (OK - I rushed through that step a bit) but the paint still went on the surface evenly and dried pretty quickly. The surface really gets exciting with the pastel - because there is so much texture, I was able to lay a thicker coat of pastel and blend heartily into the board. I didn't get a lot of messy dust, and was able to layer nicely. Also I was able to use some finer pastel pencils on top without just burnishing out the surface. This allowed me some leeway to correct the painting in the finer detailed areas around the bridge.

If I can afford to purchase larger sheets of Pastelbord or a similar sanded surface, I will be getting more soon. I'm not sure how difficult it will be to frame one of these (with a mat) because the  board has some thickness and weight to it. It should probably be set into a larger sheet of hardboard or just framed without a mat (and use spacers instead). I have two more sample pieces which will likely end up as a series of landscapes from Mytoi Gardens soon.

Aha! Just looking through the Ampersand website and they have tips right there on framing with this material. Pretty much the process I expected - adding foam board to build up around the Pastelbord and hold it in place. Neat!

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