Richard McKinley,
Richard McKinley, "Cliffs of Goleta," 2074, pastel, 12 x 18 in. Private collection Plein air

“The coastal cliffs at Goleta Beach, California, are one of those painting sites that I call ‘an old friend’,” says Richard McKinley. “Having made dozens of paintings from this vantage point, over several decades, has led to familiarity.

“I’ve always been intrigued by the play of positive and negative spaces throughout the landscape. The rhythm and texture of the stone cliffs, clinging vegetation, and majestic eucalyptus trees provide the main attraction.

“On this occasion, a direct alla prima application of pastel just felt right. To facilitate this, I selected a warm-toned, mid-value pastel paper. Letting the paper show through helped to unite the scene and set a good foundation for the tactile pastel marks.

“I try to think of the underpainting, or undertone, as the cake, and the pastel as the icing. If I start with the icing and try to shove cake underneath it, it becomes a mess.”

See more of Richard McKinley’s work at

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