Monday, April 6, 2009

Pastel Progress

I finally was able to start the fun part, applying the pastels. The Fisher400 paper surface grabs the pastels like a magnet. I can see that it will chew up the pastels like crazy.

I started pretty tentatively, since it's been so long since I tried the pastels. I began with her face laying skin tone colors from my different sets of pastels. I was careful to reinforce my reference lines with the pastels because I noticed that they could get covered up very easily.

I had fun blending creams, pinks and yellows to get some nice tones for her face. I also marked out some of the highlights and put in some light shadows. But as usual with my portraits, I soon realized that I had better block in the background early on, since it was going to be so dark. It is the only way to get a good feel for how intense the colors should get on her face so as not to be washed out by the dark background.

I switched over to filling in the background with a dark navy blue with splashes of purple and terracotta colors in there too. I'm trying to figure out the best way to blend the pastels. My pastel brushes seemed to lift out the pastel dust instead of blending it down into the paper. I used a chamois cloth, but that disintegrated pretty quickly. Paper stumps worked okay in small spaces. But my bare fingers seemed to do the best job in large and small areas. Unfortunately the paper is basically sandpaper and they would not hold up too long without getting rubbed raw. I can't remember where I read some tips on working with sanded surfaces. But that artist used rubber gloves to protect his fingers. I shall have to try that.

One thing I have to say for pastels, it sure was easier and faster to get this intensity in color and cover this much area than if I had been using colored pencils.

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