The creative spirit is inspired by that which surrounds it. As a plein air painter, that is most especially true for me and northwest Montana. I love this landscape—the rugged mountains, the pristine lakes, and the lush farmlands. I feel connected to it on a deep, spiritual level. I come from a lineage of mountain people, both my parents immigrated from Switzerland. You could say mountains are in my blood.

With that deep connection to the land, I’m endlessly inspired to discover and become familiar with the variations and nuances of this landscape. Pastels are my chosen medium. They allow me the ability to use bold flourishing strokes as well as subtle blending to convey mood and motion in the composition. Pastels encourage my exploration of vibrant and colorful expression.

Plein air painting informs my work with an accurate view of the natural world, much more so than painting from photographs. That’s why I put up with the weather, the bugs, the wind, and the inconvenience while painting on location. The sense of bliss I feel in viewing a scene bathed in light and shadow is what I hope to convey to the viewer. If a work of art can foster connectivity with the viewer, it becomes more than art, it becomes an asset to their quality of life.

My background includes over 30 years as a graphic designer running an intimate design studio, Abacus Graphics, LLC, with my husband and partner, John R. Webster. We are located in Bigfork on the stunning shoreline of Flathead Lake.

Francesca’s Instagram Feed

My husband suggested that I add a deer or two to a painting that feels like it needs something more. Not a bad idea except I’ve never painted one. I thought I would sketch some to get familiar with their body shape and proportions. Next I’ll try painting some in pastel.

#pastelpainter #pastelpainting #pastel_society_of_west_coast
#artforsalebyartists #ladyothelake #bigforkmontana #for.fineart #northwestlife #pacificnorthwest #francescadroll
...

“Pomegranates”, 12” x 16”, pastel
Wishing you all a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday! I’m grateful for the wonderfully full life I’m so fortunate to enjoy…for the passion to create art and the supplies to do so…for those people who find joy and fulfillment in viewing art…for all those people out there, behind the scenes, who make this a better world. Thanks to you all and may you receive an abundance of blessings!

#pastelpainter #pastelpainting #pastel_society_of_west_coast
#artforsalebyartists #pomegranates
#fallcolor #holidayart #fruitart #still_life_paintings #ladyothelake #bigforkmontana #for.fineart #Thanksgiving #northwestlife #pacificnorthwest #francescadroll
...

“Pear Panoply”, 12” x 24”, pastel
I’ve been working this past week on this lineup of these beautiful Red Crimson and Bosc pears. If you‘ve never had a Red Crimson, give it a try—very sweet! Cultivated during the 1950-1960s from a spontaneous mutation, it’s becoming more widely available. I was delighted to find them in our local organic grocery store. I could have done 5 Red Crimsons but throwing in that 1 Bosc made it much more interesting—do you agree?

#pastelpainter #pastelpainting #pastel_society_of_west_coast
#artforsalebyartists #redcrimson
#fallcolor #starkrimsonpear #fruitart #still_life_paintings #nature #ladyothelake #bigforkmontana #for.fineart #Arizonalife #northwestlife #pacificnorthwest #francescadroll
...

Aspen Weave, 8” x 10”, pastel
This is a departure from my more typical landscapes and I found it a challenging one. I was intrigued with the dark counter shapes made by the branches weaving among the leaves. It almost has an abstract quality and I couldn’t resist tackling it. By pulling the twigs and leaves forward with sharper edges while pushing the trunks back with soft edges, an atmospheric quality is achieved.

#pastelpainter #pastelpainting #pastel_society_of_west_coast
#artforsalebyartists #southwestart
#fallcolor #visit_arizona #tucson
#nature #hikearizona #hikemontana #backcountry #aspen
#grandcanyonpaintings #ladyothelake #southwest #tucsonart #bigforkmontana #for.fineart #Arizonalife #southwestlife #francescadroll
...

This is a continuation of a painting in progress.
Step 8: at this point, I start working over the entire painting with refinements. I had pushed the mountains back by scumbling a hard gray blue pastel over all of them. This session, I brought back some subtle detail and highlights. I work the foreground with more definition and plants. I adjusted how the shadows fell, creating a slope in the front. Also, I refined the saguaros, putting more detail in the foreground one, and less on the others.
Now I’ll let this sit for a few days and look at it with a fresh eye to see if anything pops out that needs improvement.
Thanks for following along and for all your interest and comments.

#pastelpainter #pastelpainting #pastel_society_of_west_coast
#artforsalebyartists #southwestart
#visittucson #visit_arizona #tucson
#grandcanyonpaintings #ladyothelake #southwest #tucsonart #bigforkmontana #for.fineart #Arizonalife #southwestlife #francescadroll
...

“Wash of Light”, 11” x 14”, pastel
I’m thrilled to announce that I have been invited to show paintings in the new FoR Fine Art Galley that just opened in Tucson! I’ve painted in Sabino Canyon a few times and I love that landscape. I’m so happy to explore a new landscape using those beautiful desert colors! This piece is almost finished but I’ll revisit it in a couple of days with a fresh eye.

#pastelpainter #pastelpainting #pastel_society_of_west_coast
#artforsalebyartists #southwestart
#grandcanyonpaintings #ladyothelake #southwest #tucsonart #bigforkmontana #for.fineart #Arizonalife #southwestlife #francescadroll
...

Waves, 9“ x 12“, pastel
I recently watched a video workshop on painting waves. So I had to give it a try with this study. I learned a new technique of spraying foam bits with a toothbrush from @lanaballot which was fun. I need to practice more waves—it’s my kind of color palette!

#pastelpainter #pastelpainting #pastel_society_of_west_coast
#artforsalebyartists #montanaartscene
#flatheadlakemontana #ladyothelake #glaciernps #bigforkmontana #for.fineart #montanalife #francescadroll
...

“My Mother’s Teacups”, 15.5” x 11.5”, pastel on Pastelmat paper
I finished these today, adding more color than was in the actual tea cups. But the whimsical nature of the still life begged for a more informal and imaginative approach. These hand thrown pottery cups were one of my mother’s earliest purchases after immigrating to the US. They are close to 70 years old.

#pastelpainter #pastelpainting #pastel_society_of_west_coast
#artforsalebyartists #montanaartscene
#flatheadlakemontana #ladyothelake #glaciernps #bigforkmontana #for.fineart #montanalife #francescadroll #pleinairpainter #pleinairathome #pleinairmag
...

Day 30 #stradaeasel
“Teacups”, 15.5” x 11.5”, pastel on Pastelmat paper
Day 2 of a multi day painting. I’m continuing to model the teacups and have added the background. More detailed refinement comes next. Although this is the last day of the Strada Challenge, I’ll continue to post progress shots until this is finished. Thanks for following me during the Challenge!

#pastelpainter #pastelpainting #pastel_society_of_west_coast
#artforsalebyartists #montanaartscene
#flatheadlakemontana #ladyothelake #glaciernps #bigforkmontana #for.fineart #montanalife #francescadroll #pleinairpainter #pleinairathome #pleinairmag
...

Day 29 #stradaeasel
“Teacups”, 15.5” x 11.5”, pastel on Pastelmat paper
I’m back to the tea cups and also working a little bit larger. Once again, this is just the block in stage with attention to getting all the proportions, angles, and values correct. Much more to do…

#pastelpainter #pastelpainting #pastel_society_of_west_coast
#artforsalebyartists #montanaartscene
#flatheadlakemontana #ladyothelake #glaciernps #bigforkmontana #for.fineart #montanalife #francescadroll #pleinairpainter #pleinairathome #pleinairmag
...

Day 18 #stradaeasel
“Sweet Peas”, 8” x 6”, pastel
A friend gifted me these happy little flowers. I hope I did them justice.

#pastelpainter #pastelpainting #pastel_society_of_west_coast
#artforsalebyartists #montanaartscene
#flatheadlakemontana #ladyothelake #glaciernps #bigforkmontana #for.fineart #montanalife #pleinairpainter #pleinairathome
#pleinairmag
...