Monday, April 24, 2017

Evolution of The Red Coat

If you click on the "Red Coat" tag at the bottom of this page you can bring up all the posts related to this piece. I started it a long time ago when I was less than sure of my pastel painting skills. As a result of starting it so prematurely, it spent a lot of time stored away half finished in a flat file drawer. Once I decided late last year to give it another try, I pulled it out of the drawer and set about trying to finish it.


I still had some issues to resolve that were blocking my progress. The last time I had worked on it I had practically finished working on the figure. But the main problem was deciding what to do about the foreground. I had originally imagined I would make the window appear to be some sort of train or subway car window. I collected reference photos of these things which showed metallic looking silver or gray siding. I didn't think these colors were very complimentary to the picture but couldn't figure any other way to depict a train.

I started applying the grey colors with highlights and shadows to represent sections of siding with securing bolts in place. In this way I painted the left side of the picture and was beginning to cover some of the bottom area when I decided that it just wasn't looking very good. I tried to figure a way to fix it without removing the pastel I had just applied. There was no way. After I stewed and stomped around for a while, I finally admitted that I was going to have to remove all the gray pastel and start again on the train walls. I'm really surprised it didn't go back into the drawer for another few years at this point, but I guess I really did want to finish it in time for the 8th PSSC Member Show.

I didn't remember to get a picture with all the grey pastel on, but I did snap a shot after erasing the last bit off with the General Tri-tip eraser. This eraser saved the day.


I started off by brushing as much of the pastel powder off with a bristle brush. Then remembering a tip from a pastel workshop I took (Lavone Sterling), I used slices of white bread mushed into balls to lift more of the pastel off. The General eraser cleaned up all the rest. It was a messy process but it worked getting the pastel off this Fisher 400 sanded paper without harming the surface.

So now I was ready to start again. Luckily I had found a new inspiration for the foreground. It was the window on the side of a train that had a deep maroon color. I like this color much better. I found a good match among my pastels to apply a flat expanse of color, no bolts, no panels or siding, just a smooth richly colored surface with metallic highlights in the corners and rims of the window. After this breakthrough, the progress was fast, all the surfaces covered, some detailing and then signature. I was done!


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New Colored Pencil Project - In Dreams

I had the idea of doing flying or dreaming scenes for a while now. Looking through Deviant Art stock photos I came across the perfect reference for what I had in mind. Dazzle-stock at Deviant Art has a wonderful collection of images of graceful and dynamic poses. I based my figure drawing on the image called I Want to Fly (which you can see here).


I made a few changes to get it looking like she is actually flying and probably will continue tweaking as I go.

I decided to reuse a Canson C' a Grain Art Board I had experimented with before. The experiment failed, by the way. I took it to a pastel workshop hoping I could try my pastels on it, but soon found out, it definitely does not like pastels. Anything more than one layer of pastel fell right off. I was ready to toss the board in the trash when it occurred to me that I might be able to remove the remaining pastel. I took a stiff brush to the board and managed to remove most of it. Then using the fabulous General's Tri-Tip eraser, I got a lot more of the embedded stuff off. I've used this eraser before to remove pastel from sanded boards and was amazed at how well it worked. This was a tip from Lisa Ober in a pastel workshop I took last October.

Still after all my erasing, the board was stained, but I figured it could be an interesting under painting!

This is what I had after transferring the drawing and doing a little coloring around the edges of the figure to see if I would be able to cover up the ghostly image of Marty's smiling face in the background. It seemed doable.


It's been slow going building up the colored pencil to a good dark for the background. I decided to use solvent to make the job easier. Here it is so far, the result of alternating between laying colored pencil and brushing with solvent.


Here is a closer look.


I changed the feet a little from the original drawing, shortened and slimmed them down. I rotated the heel on the bottom foot to make it look a little more natural, hopefully. Now I see that the arms look too long so will probably shorten them too.

I like this C' a Grain Art Board very much for colored pencils. It has a resilient surface which can take many layers of pencil and erases very well. The surface is somewhat textured, something like stonehenge or the Bristol 500 vellum papers. As for using a solvent, the surface didn't seem to roughen or be any worse for wear after using Turpenoid on it.

Lesson learned: The C' a Grain Art Board is a no-no for pastels, lovely for colored pencils.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

PSSC Member Show

I pulled this piece out of storage to finally finish it in time for the Pastel Society of Southern California's Member Exhibition.


It's now showing along with many other pastel paintings at the 8th Annual Member's Show of the PSSC located at the Lexus Center in Torrance, CA.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

First Place in the Pastel Society of Southern California Member Show!

I was very thrilled and honored to win first place in the professional category of the PSSC Member's show. I think it was even more exciting because the competition judge was Richard Mckinley! If this is not validation that I'm on the right track, I don't know what is :-)




I started this portrait last year in June. I thought it was time to try my freehand drawing skills to start off a pastel portrait. After all that's why I've been practicing my draftsmanship.

I found a quirkly self portrait that Marty had taken when he was goofing around with his photographic equipment. When I first saw it I was amused since the expression was so uncharacteristic of him. To me it said, "Hey, what you looking at!", "You talking to me?" It exuded a defiant and cocky attitude and I wondered if I could ever manage to capture this in a portrait. It would certainly be an interesting challenge.

The paper was a 19 x 25 sheet of La Carte pastel paper in Sienna Brown. I took care with my initial drawing. I drew lines dividing my paper into quarters as well as on my reference with the same aspect ratio. These guided me in placing the off center figure accurately on the paper. These also help me place landmarks for the top of his head and rest of this body so as not to end up with a drawing that wandered out of bounds.

Once the sketch was done to my satisfaction I started applying the pastel.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Gemma Gylling Workshop

Our local CPSA chapter, Los Angeles DC 214 is hosting a Gemma Gylling workshop in March.


PAINTING CATS WITH CONFIDENCE
GEMMA GYLLING, CPSA: INSTRUCTOR
Saturday, March 28, 2015, 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.
City of Cypress Community Center
5700 Orange Avenue, Cypress, CA 90630

Gemma is a well-known wildlife artist and teacher. She is a Signature Member of Colored Pencil Society and Animals for Conservation. Her works have been shown in shows across the country and are in many private collections. She was a workshop instructor at the 2014 CPSA International Exhibition in Daytona Beach, Fla. Having grown up on a small ranch in Southern California, Gemma developed an early love for animals in nature. She has traveled the world taking photos of animal in their natural habitat. She began painting in oils, but soon switched to colored pencils for her animal portraits because of the versatility of this medium and the ability to capture fine details with it.

In this workshop you will learn to create richly colored, painterly cat portraits on suede mat board. Gemma will focus on the anatomy of the eyes, ears, nose and fur while guiding you through each step. She will provide each student with the suede mat board with an outline of the subject, a booklet with detailed instructions on finishing the project, and a materials list.

For contact information and entry form, download the Workshop flyer.

Download the materials list.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Colored Pencil Landscape

Here is something different, a landscape! I probably finished this about a year ago and then tucked it away, out of sight. I came across it again recently and decided it wasn't as bad as I originally thought, just different. I've learned that sometimes you just need a little space and time away from your work to be able to really see it again.


I'm not sure I remember why I wanted to do a landscape. But I do remember that with that idea in mind we took a little road trip to Solvang and took pictures all the way there and back. I picked the following reference shot as a likely composition. I played around with some ideas and some Photoshop magic to come up with the desaturated version on the right. I think that I augmented the bushes on the right side of the image too.


The combination of the desaturated colors and the underlying buttery yellow tone of the paper, gave the finished piece a stange old-timey look. The paper was another sheet from my little 7 x 9.5 Pastelmat pad. I think that I definitely prefer using Pastelmat with pastels instead of colored pencil. It can take 3 or 4 layers of colored pencil well, but there is no hiding the texture of the paper and the color of the paper is a factor in the look of your finished piece. You can get a lot more coverage with pastels. I guess that's why it's called Pastelmat.

I took a couple of progress shots a the beginning. Here I was still deciding if I wanted a figure in the image.


I decided I liked it better without anyone strolling down the path. I took a few more artistic liberties with the lighting. I made the light more contrasting, as if there was an foggy morning sun lighting the path from the right.

It was fun experimenting with a limited palette and the brightly toned paper, though it did make for a funny looking landsscape. It looks better from far away, like an old fashioned watercolor. :-)

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Small Pastel

I've been working on a small pastel piece. The paper is Pastelmat, 7 x 9.5 inches. I wanted to do a portrait using mostly pastel pencils, something to help me keep improving my freehand drawing skills.

I did the pencil drawing on a separate sheet of paper, then scanned it and then printed it out to get good contrasting lines. I then used my light box to transfer it to the Pastelmat. It was kind of tough to see the guide lines through the Pastelmat, since it's rather thick paper, but I was able to pick out enough to guide me.


A portrait tutorial DVD I recently bought served as an excellent refresher for me on capturing likenesses. The DVD is "Steps to a Likeness - Pastels" by Perri Sparks.

Using pencils is very different than using pastel sticks. For one thing I certainly feel more comfortable working at this small scale with pencils. Of course you lose a lot of the fluidity and painter-like quality that makes working with large pastels such a joy. It's a trade off I suppose.

I did go with a regular soft pastel stick to stroke in the background which gives it a nice airy touch. I'm not done with this one yet. I need to do some redrawing of the arms still and then draw in some color on the dress.