Monday, August 6, 2012

Maggie Price Workshop

I had the opportunity to attend a Maggie Price workshop at the Brea Gallery this month. Maggie Price is an award winning pastel artist, author and co-founder of the Pastel Journal. In addition to these impressive credentials, her workshop had been highly recommended to me. I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed every minute of the workshop and I think I learned a lot.

We learned about underpaintings for pastel work. We tried her three underpainting methods, one for every workshop day and I got some very valuable hands-on experience.

Here are a few pictures from day one.

Day two.

Day three and method three.

We had a show and tell at the end of the day.

My hubby made me a pastel box which I did my best to organize into the value and color temperature scheme that Maggie recommends. I find that I really like having my pastels arranged this way.

These were the results of my efforts for the three days.

This workshop was very inspiring, not just because I learned so many new things, but also because we had the privilege of working right in the Brea gallery where the International Association of Pastel Societies 20th Juried Exhibition was being displayed. The show opened officially on the evening of the last day of the workshop, but we were able to view it thoughout our stay. Nothing like having gorgeous art work surrounding as you learn new techniques!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What I've Been Working On

I used an old photo of mine for a reference on this portrait that I started a few months ago. Yes, it's a really old photo :-D
I wanted to try working on Pastelbord again. I had an 8 x 10 grey board onto which I transferred this outline.

I neglected to take any scans as I began, so in the next photo, there are already quite a few layers of colored pencil applied.

I tried something new before applying the pencils. I lay down a light scribbling of watersoluble Neocolor crayon in the skin areas. I applied water and brushed it evenly around the face and neck area. The idea was to cover up some of the grey color of the support and make it easier to get to the right skin tones. It did help, though I was too tentative and the color wash was pretty thin. I still had to put on many layers of color with very sharp pencils to get the coverage I wanted. I think the idea was a good one, I just need to make this under painting much more opaque next time.

You can see some of the faint color wash that extends in to the hair. It's pretty transparent.

I guess the best solution to avoid the hassle in getting good skin tones is to stop using the grey boards for portraits. After all, Ampersand does make a tan pastelbord, which is the kind I used on my Mom portrait. I'll just have to use the rest of my grey boards for still lifes, or maybe actually use the pastels on them.

Here is the latest. Lots more layers of Prismacolor Deco Pink (so glad this color is being produced again), Peach, Light Peach, Colorsoft Soft Pink and Blush Pink and Luminance light tones.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pencil Paintings 2012

This year I had two entries in our local CPSA chapter show.

This guy won me an honorable mention.

I finished my Mom's portrait in time to enter it too. This one had been in the works for a long time. Looking back at the old entries in this blog I see that I started it in back in June of 2009!

I had tucked it away our of sight for a long time. I remember I didn't like the background and wasn't sure how to proceed. Over time I put that background in a couple of times. Finally I decided just to finish it after all that dawdling.

I was in good company, there were many beautiful pieces from members of our local CPSA Chapter 214 and from other local artists. Not surprisingly, Jeff George won first place in the professional category.

Betzi Stein and Ester Roi chatting.

Elizabeth Patterson checking out the art.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More Work on the Icarus Board

After my first tries with the Icarus board I let my interest lapse for a while. I did try again starting another project back in March of last year. This time I used Colourfix paper. I sketched my composition and printed it to a sheet of 16 x 13 white Colourfix.

I got as far as applying and blending skin tone colors with Neocolor crayons. I thought it was much more successful this time.

As happy as I was with this experiment for some reason I didn't continue working on it for a long time. It was only very recently, after seeing the latest Icarus board tutorials on Ester Roi's site that I got fired up again to continue.

Looking at some of the more recent tutorials I see that it is possible just to use pencils to lay the wax down thick enough, but I found it easier here to lay down initial coats with the Neocolor crayons and then blend color with the pencils. I've been using color shapers to blend and move the wax around on the paper.

I've been using a hodgepodge of icarus board techniques, applying wax crayons and pencils on the hottest settings, separately or layered together, blending them together on the warm area, layering the pencil on top on the cool zone, using Verithins for details and defining edges on cool and warm areas. I'm still getting familiar with the effects of the different techniques, so I'm sure that once I get more experience I'll be a little more methodical in how I use the board.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Using the Icarus Board

I received an Icarus board as a Christmas present the year before last. I really wanted one because I knew of the possibilities that opened up when applying heat to colored pencils and wax crayons. I am lucky enough to belong to the same local CPSA chapter that Ester Roi belongs to. Ester is the inventor of the Icarus board. So I have been privileged to see first hand some of the incredibly beautiful art that she has created with the board. Once I had my own board I did find it a little intimidating and not having a proper place to use it, I'm sorry to say that after the initial flurry of experimenting on it, it kind of ended up on a back burner.

The photo shows my first try, on one of the sheets of paper that came with the board. I'm not sure what type of paper this was, but it could have been Stonehenge or some other kind of 2-ply bristol type paper with a nice vellum finish. I did a contour sketch, printed the outline to the paper and began to apply layers of colors with my usual assortment of Prismacolor pinks, peaches and yellow pencils to build up skin tones the way I usually do. I figured when I had enough layers I could shift over to the heated side of the board and blend everything together. This didn't really work.

I realized pretty soon that the pencils by themselves did not deposit enough wax to melt and move around freely like paint, at least not the way I applied them. Back around this time Ester had put the first few tutorials on how to use the board up on her website. This is where I should have started, so I belatedly went over to take a look and got a few clues on what to try. I needed to get myself a set of neocolors before going any further.

When I finally had my new supplies in hand I came back to this piece and experimented a bit. I applied the some bright blues and pinks neocolors to the background and saw how much more easily these laid down the wax and melted together. I applied a little black to the hair and played around trying to add highlights, but when I got to the face the I just couldn't figure out how to apply the flesh toned neocolors without obliterating the subtle shadows and highlights I had already started with the pencils. I chickened out and told myself that I would just come back to it when I had a better idea of what to do.

It seemed easier to just start fresh, so I next tried this.

This time I drew on a 15 x 11 inch piece of black Arches cover paper. This is a heavy paper with a pronounced texture. I used just the neocolor crayons to apply color to the face and hair. I was able to blend the colors well enough with the heated board but needed a lot of wax application to cover up the texture of the paper. It has an interesting look letting the texture show through as in the right side background,but it's not the look I wanted. I concluded that this paper was not the best for a smooth look. The Icarus board makes it possible to cover the texture completely but it's a lot easier to choose another type of paper instead of fighting the texture on this one.

Transcendent Finished

I actually finished this a few months ago, but neglected to post about it. I've neglected to post anything lately, so I have a little catching up to do.

This piece is about 18 x 12 inches, colored pencil on Canson Mi-Tientes. It went a lot faster than usual and since I pretty much kept to the original sketch, I didn't abuse the paper too much. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.