Barbara, Brenda, Rita, Maria and I made our group’s first painting venture into Oella, small town on the east bank of the Patapsco River, across from Ellicott City, built 200 years ago to house local mill workers. This was a VERY hot day that we thankfully spent in the shade of Mr. Jay Patel’s Country Corner Store (Mr. Patel also very hospitably allowed us to park in his lot), painting the Mount Gilboa Chapel. This is a small stone church built in the mid 19th century by freed African Americans; it is included on the National Register of Historic Places. Since I was not entirely sure how long I’d be able to stay out in the 90-degree heat, I chose a piece of Wallis paper on which I’d previously laid in a very dark brown wash in acrylic (covering an earlier unsuccessful painting that I’d brushed off). I really love the effect of pastel on a dark dark surface, but there are some tricky things you have to take into consideration. First, even mid-value pastels look quite light against the dark surface, and if you’re not careful to adjust for that, your finished work can end up in far too low a key, especially when working outdoors. So it’s a good idea to start by popping in one or two of your lightest lights (which you’d normally save till last) just to help you gauge your remaining values correctly. Second, brushing light pastel off a dark surface will leave ghost traces, so if you want to preserve the crisp freshness of confident strokes of color against the dark underpainting, you need to get it as right as possible the first time and be willing to accept what you lay down. It’s for this reason that I chose the dark surface for this particular session: I knew it would force me to work as quickly and as surely as I could: no doodling or re-painting allowed! The result, “Mt. Gilboa Chapel,” is certainly no masterpiece of realism, but I am basically pleased. I will probably re-work it some in the studio – I want to soften the hard edges and perhaps darken the shadow side of the chapel a bit – but for illustration purposes, I’ve posted here, anyway.