Cynthia Blair: Light-filled Pastel Paintings of the Sea, Sun and Sky

By Lisa Orgler in Featured Artists > Other Mediums

Today’s featured artist, Cynthia Blair, excels in a number of different mediums including charcoal, oil and pastel. She is a BFA graduate in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design, and in addition to being a fine artist, Cynthia is also a talented web designer.

After agonizing over which aspect of her art to write about, I finally ended up choosing her captivating pastel Seascapes series.

Cynthia considers her pastel works to be “paintings” rather than drawings, and uses pastels to cover the entire surface exactly like an oil or acrylic painter would. It really is a lovely technique. . . many of her pastel paintings look as if they were done in oils.

Cynthia’s subject matter is always varied but in her Seascapes series, much of the focus is on creating radiant lighting wrapped in deep shadows.


The boats above are a great example of how much impact good lighting can have on a scene. Those bright colors, which contrast so well against the dark water below them, make it seem as though the sun itself is reflecting back into the viewer’s eyes.

Cynthia’s paintings not only capture light, but also movement. Many of her seaside images are boats moving across the water with sails catching the wind. This next painting seems to be taking place right before a storm.


Once again Cynthia uses a dark background (the sky) to make a perfect backdrop for brightly colored sails. She also strategically placed the red sail, with its strong dynamic shape, to act as the focal point for the painting.

Of course, these kinds of intelligent compositional touches are seen throughout all of Cynthia’s paintings. In the piece below, a strong visual balance is achieved by splitting the painting directly in half horizontally.


The top is a busy sky, filled with clouds and warm colors from the setting sun. The bottom is calm, with dark rippling water punctuated only by a bright yellow boat and three, no—four buoys, which form a lovely nautical "pathway" deeper into the painting.

I invite you all to visit Cynthia’s website at to experience more of her wonderful pastel paintings, and all of her other artwork, too.


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