Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Some Fine Tuning

I've gotten some more of the background in, but before covering the entire background I thought I'd leave a clear area close to the face.

That way I could do some fine tuning on his features. Most of this has been using my pastel pencils and with the Giraults since it's delicate work. Next I'll work on the hair

Here's what my working setup looks like. It's nice when the day is warm and I can open the window.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Another Marty Portrait

It's not really a portrait, just that my model happens to be Marty. It will have kind of a fantasy theme when complete. I've been in a fantasy kick lately and have a few other fantasy themed concepts in mind for future art projects.

Here are a few progress shots.

The paper is a 18.5 x 24" piece of olive green Colourfix. It's a very nice sanded surface. I have used Colourfix before with colored pencils and liked it a lot. It seems to be working very well for me in pastels too. I've been using mostly pastel pencils for the face and hands and some of the harder pastels sticks for the backgound. Eventually I'll use softer pastels for finishing touches and larger areas of the background.

Once I get more done it will become more apparent what the fantasy element is in this piece. Stay tuned. :-)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Finished Artwork

I have a few finished pieces that I haven't shown. The baking pic finally was done a few months ago after a lot of feet dragging.

What held me up for a long while was wondering what to put outside the windows. I knew I didn't want the blinds and the original view of my neighborhood outside. I finally came across a nice reference picture of a morning sky over a golden field. I got going again and finished it rather quickly after that.

Another piece is "In Dreams". I spent a lot of time putting stars in this background. I tried a few different kinds of white gel pens, and a white fine tipped marker but what ended up being the best star maker was my sakura electric eraser. A few quick touches of the eraser tip easily lifted off the colored pencil right down to the white board.

I finished off two more pastel pieces, the rose and one that has been in work for years, my Backe boys picture.

For the rose picture I re-purposed a sanded board I used in a workshop years ago. It was one of the first pastel workshops I ever took. I learned a lot and had a lot of fun, though my none of my workshop pieces ever inspired me to finish them.

I took my try below of a tree lined path, brushed off some of the pastel and brushed the remaining with alcohol to create an interesting underpainting. Then I painted a rose on it.

And this is what I got.

I like how the reddish tones from the previous painting show through here and there. A lot of these sanded boards are pretty sturdy and can hold up to brushing off the pastel and even washing it off.

The Backe boys picture is one that I started many moons ago. Looking at my reference and progress photos, I seem to have gotten the idea for it sometime late in 2011. I composited different reference elements of the concept in photoshop and then left if there. The next burst of activity is in March of 2014 when I completed the drawing and transferred it to a multimedia art board. I came back to it a few more times in 2014 and drew in some of the figures. That must have been very taxing because I didn't return to work on it again until 2016.

I did a substantial amount of work on it at this point but somehow managed to lose interest again, because it didn't get finished until late last year. What a journey! I think the problem has been my lack of confidence using pastels. It's only in recent years that I have begun to feel more control in this medium. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

In Dreams Continued

I've been working off and on this piece, darkening the background and detailing the dress. I've also made a start on adding the stars. There are going to be a lot of stars, so I will be at it for a while.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

On the Easel

I had the idea of doing a figurative pastel involving baking. Also I wanted to try out a drawing technique using a grid that I had seen in a Christine Ivers video called "Pastel Painting Techniques: Indoor Scenes with People".

I've used grids before to  help me me get accurate proportions and placement from my reference to a drawing but it can be tedious. First  you have to figure out the scaling of the grid to fit your paper and then carefully measure it out line by line on your drawing surface. Usually you end up having to draw out lines at some untidy interval like  2.773 inches or something unfriendly like that.. Christine Ivers demonstrates a way that makes it extremely easy to create a grid on your painting surface that is in perfect ratio to your reference without having to measure lines! You don't even need a ruler, just a straight edge. Check out her video :-)

I ended up with the drawing at the right ready to start the pastel application. The paper is La Carte pastel card, 12 x 15" light grey.

Here are a few progress shots.

It was going well until it wasn't. It sat on my easel for a few weeks at this stage with no further progress. I had put in some of the background scene through the window and it just wasn't engaging me. I guess I should know by now that something is wrong when I keep putting off working on a piece.

I came to me on a walk. Get rid of the blinds, pick another scene beyond the windows. It doesn't have to be my driveway and neighbors house showing up out there. I can put something beautiful there, I can be baking by moonlight, or in the forest, I can use artistic license.😵

So I'm working on it again. I have started removing the pastel lines for the blinds and drawing in the window frames. I've done a little refining of the figure and changed the color of the table. Soon I'll overlay a new scenario beyond the windows. I still have to make some decisions to make but it's moving along again.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Progress on In Dreams

I've been slowly working away on In Dreams. There are lots of layers of color in the background and still lots to add.

I've darkened some areas with repeated cycles of layering the colored pencils and then using solvent to blend the colors together. Most of the work so far has been on the background which I still want to be darker. I have yet to do a lot of detail work on the figure and also deepen the colors here.

I'm really enjoying my new colored pencil work area. I have everything I need at my fingertips!

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!