Plein Air Workshop with Aaron Schuerr

Last weekend is a blur.  I spent three days in Highlands Ranch (just south of Denver) at a Plein Air workshop taught by Aaron Schuerr.  The workshop was hosted by Terry Ludwig Pastels. Not only did we get a tour of the studio, but I picked up some new greens for these brilliant grasses and landscapes that we did.

Our first day was a bit sketchy as the clouds rolled in and threatened to rain on us.

We started with value studies in charcoal.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have fixative, so my drawing got pretty smudged.  Here’s the demo that Aaron did – a great lesson in value and composition.

Aaron Schuerr - Value Demonstration © Nelia Harper
Aaron Schuerr – Value Demonstration © Nelia Harper

In the afternoon we watched a demo by Aaron.  He walked us through his composition, what to pick, what to leave out, how to create distance, and how to deal with the quickly changing sky.


We finished just before the rain began to pour down.  It’s so unusual for us to have such heavy, humid air in Colorado.  It was nice to see a demonstration for dealing with atmosphere in the sky.

Day two, we painted at South Valley Park near Ken Caryl.  I was excited to paint the red rocks.Aaron demonstrating a backlit rock painting.

Pastel Demo Day 1© Nelia Harper
Pastel Demo Day 1 © Nelia Harper

Again, the clouds rolled in during the afternoon so we headed back to Terry Ludwig’s studio and got a tour of the facility as well as a group discussion and cloud demo.

Terry Ludwig Making Pastels
Terry Ludwig Making Pastels

Terry gave a great tour, explaining the pigments, binder and molding techniques.  What a process!  It was like combining shop, home ec, and chemistry class all together.

Terry Ludwig Pastels
Terry Ludwig Pastels

They are so beautiful.

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