November 29, 2012

Stand Beside Her (work in progress)

Stand Beside Her
(24 x 18 dry pastel) SOLD
It feels to me that I live in the most blessed place on earth. It doesn't seem to matter what simple chore I am doing, I am surrounded by beauty. Lucky me, lucky, lucky me. I have to stop what I love doing (painting) to dash to the grocery store (which I don't like doing) and am greeted with THIS view on the way. Along my merry way. So, it is an incident as simple as this that renews my living philosophy that God is ever-present and blessings abound in every task.
Following are some images of how she was created. Well, you know, not from the beginning, just my feeble attempt on the easel...

This is the"rough-in" stage on salmon-colored Sennelier La Carte paper.
(click image for larger views) 

Pastels are MADE for painting clouds. I think it's as close as one can get to the feeling of actually making real ones.

After getting the sky pretty much in place, I started working on the land, from the furthest piece forward.

 And, here's the final again - just to complete the WIP series.

Thanks for stopping by

October 26, 2012

Pumpkin (11 x 14 pastel on Sennelier La Carte)
availability info on my website
You know, Pumpkin can hardly WAIT...

October 15, 2012

20 minutes - what's the rush?

14 x 11 value study/quick draw - oil on linen panel
A friend and I hired a lovely model for our value and color exercise. It amazes me how quickly 20 minutes can fly by when one is trying to put eyeballs and noses in the correct place. I can see I did not do that in this piece but I am allowing myself those errors since this was a 20 minute piece with no room nor time for fixes. The purpose of this quickdraw was to warm up to the model's facial structure in increasingly longer poses. We started with a 5 minute pose, then a 10 minute pose, then 20 minutes then an hour+ with breaks for the model every 20 minutes. The time certainly flew by for us artists, especially under these conditions! Now that I have a value study and a color study, I feel confident I can produce a nice piece from the photos I took during the model session. We'll see :).   

October 14, 2012

October Skies, Plein Aire Study

October Skies (10 x 8 Plein Aire Study)
I'm finding with plein aire painting (I'm new to this) that there is a pull between slowing down and speeding things up and knowing the right time to do which one. For instance, I have found it important to spend some time getting a "feel" for the place I am going to paint. I don't want to just jump in and start painting. I want to bond. Maybe it's corny but it's the truth. That being said, I also find once I am set up and ready to paint, nature takes over and sometimes pushes me along to paint faster before the sun leaves that spot or before the storm arrives. Both of which were the case in the painting above from a couple days ago.
Of course, it's not always like that but I am finding lots of enjoyment in the challenges being tossed at me with each new adventure!
This is my simple set-up just before starting the painting. You can almost see the gray clouds forming on the left. They didn't stop me though, today I headed back to the beach in 25 mph winds :).

October 10, 2012

Out there, somewhere

I haven't been "here" because I've been out "there" and I'm trying to catch those few extra rays of sunshine while we still have them. I never used to be too keen on painting outside (plein air) but I think that might be because I didn't have the right setup. Now, I do (thank you Larry).

I started out with carts full of stuff and the setup seemed so cumbersome. Now, I am down to things I can just sling over my shoulder so I'm pretty mobile. Here's what I started with - yes, I know, it looks like my entire studio on wheels. But, because I didn't have the right stuff, I needed a lot of extra stuff. Until I got my Best Brella, I had to have the cart to attach my umbrella to (otherwise it would fly away) and I had to have the smaller cart because I didn't have anyplace to put my palette when I worked with oils. And, I had to have the bigger cart because my little cart couldn't go most places I wanted to go because the wheels are too small.

This is my new setup :).
Attache Aire (for oil or pastel) & bag (holds my pastels, paper/panels)
Winsor Newton Easel / Easel Butler (for pastels)
Best Brella
Accessory bag (turp/oils/brushes)
This is the Attache Aire set up for pastels. Those pointy things are magnetic & there's a tray below the painting so the dust doesn't get all over the pastels below. The paper on this is 11 x 14.
This is the Attache Aire set up for oils with a vertical palette! SO awesome for keeping the palette on the same light plane as the working surface (in the shade). I can't take credit for the idea, it was an idea inspired by David Kassan and shared by my friend, Cary. Larry adapted it to our Attache Board (still in protype) and now to the smaller Attache Aire. I am in love with this puppy!
This is so, cool, too - the palette flips over and screws facedown onto the board for transporting wet paint and fits into a Masterson Wet Palette storage container for longer term storage. Nice.
So what about the horse? Hahaha. Well, I was painting last night with a friend and this horse showed up for a nice stroll along the beach. Okay, he did have a friend with him, too, but it was still a little out of the ordinary and just another great reason why I enjoy going outside to paint.  
Cheers, all!

August 14, 2012

Golden Trail

Golden Trail (12 x 18, dry pastel, info on my website)
click image for a larger view

Hello and Welcome,

Having just juried one art show and soon getting ready to jury entries for the Pastel Journal Pastel 100 competition, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what makes a good painting. Of course, over the years of learning to paint, we artist all consider these things practically daily! What I find extremely useful when jurying a show is being accountable for the choices I make. Writing critiques makes me think harder and longer about why I make the choices I do; not just for the work of others but also for my own work. 

There are lots of reasons artists enter competitions; exposure of work, prize money, building a resume, etc. I am not a competitive person but I do consistently try to find ways to push myself beyond my own comfort zone when it comes to my art. One way I have found that helps me improve, and work a little harder to get a little better, is to enter competitions. Lest you think I might get full of myself when I win an award, please take note that I have a folder full of rejection letters to keep me in line. It is my opinion that an artist who chooses to enter competitions needs to build up competition calluses. And, like calluses, the first ones are a little tougher to take than the later ones but eventually, you take them in stride.

Last year, a painting that won first place (for me) didn't make it into the finals the year before. I reviewed the painting, thought about the results, decided I was still quite pleased with the piece and felt it was strong in all aspects. I left it as it was and re-entered it. Jury results can be a useful tool but ultimately you are the one who is the best judge of your work.


July 16, 2012

Chasing Summer

Chasing Summer, 20 x 16 oil on linen

I never tire of seeing little feet in the sand nor water rushing to shore.

Below are a few progress photos of this painting that is done on one of my hand mounted linen boards. Pure luxury, as far as I am concerned...

Click on any of the images below for a larger view.

Below are details images showing the lusciousness of the linen.

Paint, live, love, enjoy and thank you so much for visiting my blog!

July 15, 2012

Here Fishy Fishy

Lilypad Playground (dry pastel, 25 x 41 framed) by Sandy Byers

As a child, I could spend endless hours laying on a dock with my head hanging over the edge just waiting for something to move. Anything! Then, when it did, I recall getting all excited trying to figure out what made the ripples in the water. I looked quickly from side to side and checked under the dock and around the poles, searching for the culprit.

Sometimes, it would be something a small as a minnow kissing the air that would set off circles and circles of waves intended to drift out to sea.

I still find that enjoyment in the water at the edge of a dock.

This piece will be part of my upcoming show at the Scott Milo Gallery in Anacortes. If you get a chance to stop by during the opening reception, I would love your company. Plus, it will be during the Anacortes Arts Festival so there will be lots and lots of fun things to see and do!

Scott Milo Gallery
August 3rd - Sept 4th
Artist Reception August 3rd (Friday) 6-9 pm

July 12, 2012

Waves of Langley

Langley Wave (11 x 14 dry pastel on La Carte)

This is a piece I started on Sunday during the festival in Langley, Washington. It was quite warm (well, to me anyway) so painting some nice cool water seemed really refreshing. Although I took a lot of my pastels with me, I used a very small palette to work on this piece - really, just a handful of colors. This piece will be part of my upcoming show (August 3rd - September 4th) at the Scott Milo Gallery in Anacortes.

Waves to you,

July 10, 2012

Fun at the Festival

Me, soaking up the rays! 

First in order is a huge thanks to Whidbey Island Fine Art Studios for all the work they did to bring together such a great gathering of artists and models; THANK YOU! It was wonderful to be in such great company and in the company of those who were kind enough to visit the festival, too.

I enjoyed meeting so many nice folks, artists and patrons. Everyone seemed in super spirits and I have a hunch that was partly due to the sunny skies that graced us for both days.

The festival was the first public appearance for the lastest version of the Attache Board, which is a tool my husband (Larry) built. You can see it right behind me with all my stuff attached to it. Pretty soon we'll get a video made so it will be easier to see how it works but it was great to see other artists' reactions to it. We sold several of them and I am excited for others to start using what I think is an incredible studio tool. It was initially built with a pastel artist in mind (me :-) but because I also paint with oils, Larry incorporated some additional accessories that work really well for holding smaller sized canvas and boards.

Moe, who is hanging out on the Attache Board, was keeping an eye on everyone at the fair and I think he even fell in love a time or two. I could mostly tell by the look in his eyes...oh-so-dreamy...

Moe, a pastel painting by Sandy Byers
11 x 14 pastel on paper

And, have I mentioned how fabulous it is to be painting again?!

Speaking of I go. Thanks for stopping by and thanks to those of you who have signed up for my newsletter.


July 05, 2012

Demo at Langley

Just a quick note to let you know I will be doing a pastel demo (or two) at the Choochokam Arts Festival in Langley, WA, on Saturday.

If you get a chance to stop by, please look for me and introduce yourself. I am honored to be at the Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio booth where there will be lots of amazing art happening.

Hope to see you there.

July 01, 2012

Chillin in the Summer

Frosted Woolley Fields (pastel 16 x 20)

Because it's so hot out for a lot of folks around the country, I thought it might be fun to post a winter painting. Before I get started yapping about it though, I want to say THANKS to those who have sent their well wishes either in mail or thoughts for my recovery. I am now back at the easel and loving it!

I am honored to annouce that I have been selected as Artist of the Month by artistsnetwork for July and in the online article I spend quite a bit of time talking about reference photos and how I use a variety of them to compose an image.

Defining objective: In any painting, I first want to define my objective - my personal investment in a piece. It doesn't have to be some huge statement but it does have to mean something to me on a personal level if I am going to invest my heart and time in a piece.

For this piece I really wanted to recreate a scene I see and enjoy often on my way to town. When I drive past the field in the photo below, there are usally sheep hovering around the clump of trees. During the winter, when the sun hits the trees, it seems like they light up and the fields have a beautiful winter frost on them. This field, when the sheep are grazing, exudes a sense of calmness to me. This is the "thing" I want to capture and share with others in my painting. So, I have defined my objective.

I have chosen the photo below for a color reference and also for noting the frost on the fields.

Now....where WILL I find those sheep.....

As I mentioned, the sheep are usually hovering around that clump of trees or out in the field just in front of the trees but that doesn't seem to be the case if I have my camera in the car. Do you suppose they are camera-shy?

No problem, I have other sheep photos I can use. The sheep who live across the street don't seem to mind the camera.

I don't need a lot of detail for the sheep so this image will work well for the pair I want in the back. Now, for the guy in the front...

Okay. That will do. So, now I have all my reference photos. It is a matter of working out a composition that will be inviting and interesting. I work through several thumbnail sketches and work through some ideas in photoshop until I come up with something I like but I am careful not to "overwork" my idea. All I want is a good roadmap. I want to leave the creative process for the easel!

Thanks for visiting!

the end

May 25, 2012

Before the Fall

Skagit Skies, 12 x 24, pastel (sold)
click for a larger view

So, this time I actually have a really good reason for being away for so long.

I admit I am calling out the sympathy card a bit here, but mostly I just wanted to check in to let you all know I  have been lurking but not typing much. I recently fell about 4 ft off a hill in our back yard onto our paved driveway, head first, and fractured my left elbow (I’m left handed) and sprained my right wrist. I haven’t been able to paint for awhile so the piece above is from "before the fall."

After a spell of not being able to use my arms, at least I can type now so I’m getting back in to the swing of things (so to speak). I hope y'all are doing well.

Happy Painting; I'll be joining you soon!


April 16, 2012

Making Linen Panels

Hi, if you are looking for the posting about making your own linen panels, I have moved it to the tab titled "Studio Notes."

April 13, 2012

The WHEEL Pastel Boxes

So, isn't this a cool idea for pastel boxes? After chatting with some folks on a pastel forum who really liked the boxes from the post below (where they are on my nested table) I thought I'd lay them out on a table to see if they would work well that way, too.  I love this set up so much that I called Larry (the maker of all things cool) and asked him if he would make them for other artists and he said that he would. Whoohoo!

I consider the color wheel to be my single most important tool. Having my pastel boxes emulating the colorwheel makes working with them feel very natural and logical. If you want to see some other pictures and read more about ordering them, visit

Happy Dusting!

April 07, 2012

Beneath the Guard

detail of On Guard (24 x 12 dry pastel sold)
click for a larger view

On Guard, aka Joe Llama, started out as a very colorful guy on Pastelmat. Since I posted the under-painting for Dibs on the Red Chair, I also wanted to share the colors that went beneath this fella. I find white fur so interesting once I start to study all the stuble colors that are in it and around it and bouncing off of it.

First, I'll show you the uncropped version of the painting.

And, now, the "under-painting"
This guy is also the star of a recent book I published on that is also a fundraiser for Precious Life Animal Sanctuary in Sequim, Washington.

I haven't used this plug-in from Blurb before, so I hope it works okay. It should provide a full preview of the book which includes images of some of my paintings and some prose from my heart.

If the plug-in doesn't work, or you would like to see a larger preview, you can go directly to my book, Fine Art for Animals, on

April 05, 2012

On Your Mark...getting organized

(click for a larger view)

Ah, I simply can't express in words how good it feels to be organized! I have torn this studio apart from one end to the other and put it all back together again. After a very long time of walking around the elephant, I decided to simply have an honest discussion with it. We came to an understanding. I need to be organized in order to feel at peace in my working environment. Once I started, I couldn't stop and I suppose that was a good thing because now I'm DONE! Yay. And, the benefit is that I love my space.

Admittedly, I did not love spending days peeling labels off of pastels I had stacked away in corners of my closet. I had little bits and pieces in boxes everywhere. For this organizational task, every little spec of pastel was addressed. It became part of my color wheel (see the picture above) or it ended up in my recycle bowl so it will become a new pastel. Now, I no longer have to wonder if I have a color tucked away somewhere. I know what I have. If I don't have it in plain sight and I need it, I better go get it.

I was lucky enough to find this cool table when my hub (Larry) and I went to get some stuff for my slatwall. It was in the back room and was on sale because it had a couple of minor scratches and a little ding in one of the legs. We nabbed it in a second and then Larry made the custom boxes for my pastels. As you can see, they are double stacked, so the ones I don't use all the time are still sorted and easy to get to but are under the primary set. I LOVE how these boxes emulate the color wheel! It feels so natural to work with them set up this way. You can probably tell, the table rotates to stack within itself so, when I'm not using it, it takes up even less space in my studio. Sweet.

So, that's where I've been. Now, I am going to paint!!

February 22, 2012

Pastel Journal - 1st Place Winner

Dibs on the Red Chair (12 x 24 dry pastel) sold

Well, it took a few years but it was worth the wait. With the magazine now hitting mailboxes, I am humbled and honored to announce that the painting above of our two clown kitty cats (Biscuit and Gravy) won First Place in the animal/wildlife category of The Pastel Journal Pastel 100 competition!

Under all that fur are layers of luscious colors. One of the ways I enjoy building up a pastel painting is to build layer upon layer of color. It is similar to the process of glazing that is used in oil painting. A photo (shown below) taken during the early stages of the painting reveals some of the glazed colors:

click to enlarge

and this shows the same section of the painting, in a completed state

click to enlarge

Here, you can see the colors from the glaze layers showing through in the final painting. It is more obvious when viewing the original painting but I hope you will get the idea from these photos of how powerful glazes can be in pastel painting. 

Cheers all and thank you, as always, for stopping by my blog. 

February 15, 2012

Loving Blondie

Loving Blondie (16 x 20 pastel on La Carte)
click for a larger view

With Blondie being the beauty of the barnyard, it makes it difficult for Henri to keep tabs on her but he is ever-watchful of his one true love.
This piece was a joy to paint from the very first stroke of the pastel until the last. One of the reasons for that is that I finally got up the nerve to use some of my Henri Roche pastels that were a gift from a dear friend. And for those of you who have already caught on; yes, that is why I named the rooster Henri. This painting was just screaming for something that required more color, better color, darker saturated colors and Henri fit that bill to a T.
This lovely pair is headed to my show tomorrow, 2/16 at Cole Gallery in Edmonds, Washington. If you are in the hood, please be sure to stop by. I will be at the opening reception from 5-8 and would love an opportunity to me you.  
As an avid animal lover, I have elected to have a portion of the proceeds from the sale of any of my paintings during the show benefit Precious Life Animal Sanctuary. I am so proud of everything they do to help our animals in need.

February 07, 2012


Diligence (pastel 16 x 20)

Don't worry, it does eventually move.
This is a piece I recently finished for my upcoming animal show at Cole Gallery. I did the study for this years ago and have always enjoyed the simplicity of the lines and the implied, impending, action. Gravy (our beloved golden man cat) would sit and stare at that ball with the patience of Job. Sometimes, when I couldn't wait any longer, I would turn on a fan or walk past the ball and tap it as inconspicuously as possible. That would get him going for another 20 minute stare-down. Eventually, he would do the full-on POUNCE!

January 26, 2012

Heart and Soul

Heart and Soul (18 x 24 oil on belgian/panel)

February 16th - March 15th, 2012
Artist Reception: February 16th 5 pm - 8 pm
Cole Gallery 107 15th Ave So, Edmonds, WA

Yay, an animal show! Lots and lots of animals. Also, because all critters are so near and dear to my heart, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of my paintings will be donated to Precious Life Animal Sanctuary. More information, and a preview of the show, is available on the homepage of my website.

I hope this finds you all well.