Pastel painting of a river from the bank

Hot August Morning
By Ray Hassard
Pastel on panel
6 x 18 in.
On view at Cincinnati Art Galleries in the show “Our Town”

August in Cincinnati is known not only for the heat but also for the humidity. Sure, it’s not as brutal as, say, Central American jungle humidity, or even Maryland’s Eastern Shore, but it often gets pretty oppressive. So, hoping at least to find a bit of breeze to paint with, my friends Mike and Marilee and I headed down to the river one hot morning to paint. We scrambled down an overgrown bank near a boat launch ramp and set up our easels. The location was what we expected — buggy and smelly — but there was a breeze and it actually seemed to be getting stronger.

After a few hours, each of us intent on our paintings, we were all startled to hear a loud clap of thunder behind us. Turning quickly, we saw an ominous black sky approaching rapidly. With just enough time to pack and run up the pack, we got back to our cars just as a downpour came crashing out of the sky. Who says plein air painting is not an extreme sport?!

Most of this painting was in fact done plein air, but that hurried departure meant some finishing in the studio later on. I have found that having worked en plein air frequently has helped develop my visual memory. Though I had not taken any photos of the scene, I was able to finish it from the image in my mind.

I have been painting plein air for over 20 years, at home and around the world. Three painting trips to India were a high point of my life as an artist. Painting in the streets there is truly extreme, with animals, crowds of curious people, unruly traffic and much more to contend with, but worth any difficulties encountered. A month as artist in residence in Dinan, France was another wonderful experience that I am thankful to have had. In that case, painting on the banks of the river Rance reminded me of the Ohio which I see from my window every day.

In the last 10 years I have been a competitor in many plein air competitions around the country including Plein Air Maui, Easton Maryland, San Angelo Texas, and New Iberia, Louisiana. Of course, Covid intervened in all that traveling, but there’s just as much to paint in Cincinnati!

I invite you to come explore the world with me on my website: and follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

I am represented by Cincinnati Art Galleries, 225 E 6th Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, (513) 381 2128. The current show spotlights art of the Cincinnati area and runs through the end of November.

Oxford Gallery, 267 Oxford St # 1, Rochester, NY 14607. The current show is a group show on the theme “In a Different Light” and includes 2 paintings of mine based on overnight motel stays on my travels.

Castle Gallery; 1202 West Wayne St, Fort Wayne, IN 46802, has been carrying my work since August this year.