High Mountain Drama

I always enjoy the high mountains. Something about altitude just works for me. It might have something to do with having grown up in the Ecuadorian Andes, shuffling between towns at 7,000, 9,000 and 10,600 feet. Whatever the reason, I feel the mountains calling me all the time.

I’ve been fortunate to hang out with these huge peaks in several countries. Painting them brings me back. Here are three recent paintings of views I’ve enjoyed over the years, all done in soft pastels on Strathmore Artagain charcoal black paper.

“This Rarefied Air” – Khan Tengri Peak, China – Soft Pastel on Strathmore, 8×10″/20x25cm
“Take Heart” – China – Soft Pastel on Strathmore, 8×10″/20x25cm
“Goodnight, Joseph” – Wallowa Mts., Oregon – Soft Pastel on Strathmore, 8×10″/20x25cm

Back in the U.S. of A.

“Trying Again” – Soft pastel on UART 240, 7×5″ – Available

Thanks to so many who helped us get here, my wife and I are back in the Pacific Northwest. We landed on Monday, and by Wednesday, we were out in the woods. It’s not hard to get to a forest around here. Many of the parks are so densely wooded you hardly know you’re near a town. Noble Park is new to us, so we have some nice exploring to do close to where we live. This scene was just a short walk from the parking lot via one of several trails.

I started the painting onsite. About 45 minutes into the session, it started to do that Oregon drizzle thing, so I quickly packed up the pastels and we headed back. (Only after I was mostly packed did I see the owl perched about 15 feet over my head, graciously refraining from anointing/bombing me down below!) A few hours later, I sat outside the place we’re staying and painted for another half hour…until it started raining for real. I finished painting in the dining room.

What a delight to be out in the cool woods once again! I love it.

If your art group would like a demo, contact me at markivancole@gmail.com and we’ll arrange it! Workshops are also available. Let me know!

New Workshop: Mystery and Discovery – Emotional Landscapes

Bring out the mystery in your pastel paintings

Introducing a new workshop focusing on using light, shadow and atmosphere in pastels.

I’ve spent the last several decades exploring some of the most mysterious places on the planet. These experiences have influenced my painting techniques as I’ve worked to capture and communicate the emotional impact of moving through these amazing landscapes, watching the weather unfold, coming around the corner to a view that takes one’s breath away.

In this 3-day workshop, we’ll discuss how to approach a new painting, what gives us that emotional pull to put color on the surface, and how we can communicate that to the viewer.

I’ll demonstrate how I go about it, and we’ll practice different techniques that probe the magic inherent in the landscape. The process itself is a combination of mystery and discovery.

By the end of the workshop, you’ll have at least one completed painting, and the beginnings of more.

Email me at markivancole@gmail.com to schedule this workshop for your group!

OPTIONS: This workshop can also be customized as a 1-day or 2-day event. Email me for details!

The Impact of Sales

SOLD – “Dawn Arrives Slowly” – Yading, China – 10×5″/25.4×12.7 cm

The “Help Mark Move the Studio” sale is currently in full swing, and continues until May 5th. I’m grateful to everyone who has contacted me and made a purchase! Wow! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m shipping more stuff out today!

What I realized, and finally articulated a few minutes ago, is that this experience has had an impact on me in more ways than one.

1) It’s helping defray the costs of moving, and it really does help us with the whole “food and shelter” thing!

2) It’s freeing up physical space that has been holding all this inventory.

3) It’s freeing up psychological space. I feel like I’m not just accumulating more of my own artwork, but that there is ROOM for more art, even in my psyche.

4) Knowing that someone resonates with my art is deeply satisfying, and having someone choose a painting or drawing creates a connection like no other.

These are irreplaceable experiences, and I’m grateful to be having them.

Is MingART Paper Acid-Free?

Many of my recent paintings have been done on MingART paper from China. They have several different surfaces–all of which are great for different pastel techniques.

You can read about my experience with all the different grades of MingART here.

The question arose recently as to whether or not these were acid-free and non-toxic. The marketing materials for the paper currently do not specify the answer.

The short answer is YES: MingART papers are acid-free and non-toxic.

The email I received from the company today included a complete report showing that MingART papers were certified in 2017, having passed the ASTM D-4236 and TRA tests.

Painting on MingART Standard Gray in Suzhou, China – 2018

2019 Moving Sale! Original Artwork at Special Prices

Well, it’s time to move the studio, so here goes….!

Whew! This sale is over. Thanks so much to all of you who made it a smashing success!! Much appreciated!

Then I’ve got to start packing for real!!

This includes my pastels, acrylics, pen & ink, and graphite works. Check out the galleries to see full-size images (links below)!

To order, email me at markivancole@gmail.com or message me on Facebook and let me know the title(s) of the painting(s) you want!

Links to the galleries:

Pen & Ink
“Treasures” (steampunkish stuff!)
The Watchers

“Ordinary Afternoon”

“Ordinary Afternoon” – Soft pastel on MingART, 9×12 cm

Where some songs come from, I don’t know. “Ordinary Afternoon” came to me from some unknown place when I was in my mid-twenties. It almost wrote itself. Back then, I had two cassette players and I did my best to sing the parts, bouncing tracks from one machine to the other. That low quality recording was all I had of it for years.

Fast forward to 2003. My wife had encouraged me to buy a 16-track digital recording station and I was finally able to do real multi-track recording. One week, while she was on a business trip, I spent several evenings laying down the guitar, the bass and each vocal.

I’m so focused when I do music; I don’t notice the passage of time. It was after midnight when I finally made the last tweaks to the levels and EQ and mixed it down. I remember listening to the final recording in full stereo on my headphones.

Somehow, after the last chord finished, I found myself in the darkened kitchen, headphones off, leaning on the counter with tears of gratitude streaming down my face. For the first time, the sounds of this song that had rung in my head over all these years were actually out there. I’d just heard them with my own ears.

Today, I decided to paint something reminiscent of the image that, for me, has accompanied this piece whenever I hear it. I hope you enjoy the music, the words, and the painting.

Who knows where these things come from…