Thursday, April 18, 2013

Another Oldie

Now that I'm feeling a little more confident using the pastels I pulled out one of the first portraits I tried to do. I started it on a large sheet of Fisher 400 paper in April of 2009. Remember this?

Boy, it's been a while! I can't say I've been constantly working with pastels since then, but in the meantime I joined my local pastel society, have sat in on a lot demos at the pastel meetings, put in my entries at the member shows and attended quite a few workshops with well known pastel artists. I also bought a lot more pastels and have gotten over the reluctance to break my pastel sticks in half :-)

Most of the workshops I attended were for landscape work, with the exception of the Sally Strand workshop I took in November of 2011. I enjoyed trying my hand at landscapes and a still life or two, but I always gravitate back to wanting to do portraits. I tried a couple of small portraits over the years, one on pastelmat paper, one on La Carte and my latest PSSC show entry on Canson Mi-Tientes. It's funny, now that I think of it, all of my portrait tries have ended up as entries to the PSSC show. I guess that is the best indication of where my main interest lies.

One other very helpful learning experience as far as portrait instruction for me has been acquiring the Wende Caporale high definition video download from the Interweave website. I love the in-depth look at the artist's method, especially one I admire so much.

Anyway, I'm back working on Red Coat. Here it is after starting work on the face.

The first problem I encountered was trying to add more color to the face. I had pretty much filled up the tooth with lots of pale skintones years ago. I wanted to try the layering and weaving of vibrant color a la Wende Caporale, but it not going to happen here. I also think that maybe a sanded paper is not the best paper for the delicate layering of colors. I'm trying to use my lightest touch with the harder pastels, but it's kind of nerve wracking. I tend to get great globs of color where there should be mere whispers. I need a lot of practice I think.

Here I've been working on areas of paper where I had applied a lot less pastel or none at all.

It's been easier going, though I still had to concentrate hard on keeping the hand steady while applying delicate strokes. My brain seems to think those two things are not compatible. Another whole art in itself I have found, is trying to judge where exactly the nubby chunk of pastel in your hand actually touches the paper. In my experience trying to see where this happens involves putting your face as close to the paper as possible without rubbing anything off. Wende definitely doesn't do this so I imagine I will eventually develop a feel for accurate placement of pastel without having to see it.

My work setup is better now. I have a lot more pastels and fold out tables to put them on. I have all my pastels within arms reach, which is great. Not a bad setup for my little art room. Now if I could only get working windows back in here.

I'm enjoying the process.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pencil Paintings 2013

I participated in our CPSA Chapter 214 show in March. I as usual had not really given much thought to what I could enter, so when the call came I looked around for anything finished or almost done.

I had my Woman in Blue portrait finished some time ago. I posted on my initial work for this piece back in June of last year. The easiest way to see this post is to click on the Woman in Blue" label at the bottom of the page.

I also had a half done portrait of Marty on which I never posted anything. I realized now that I never took a finish photo either. Oh well :-(

Still you can see what it looked like in this picture taken at the show, to my left at the top.

I was very pleased to receive an Honorable Mention for Woman in Blue!

To see more photos of the Pencil Paintings Show and who won the top awards click on the Pencil Paintings 2013 link under My Galleries at the right of the page.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pastel Work

This was my entry to the 4th Annual Member show of the PSSC. I had started this drawing almost a year ago as a little sketch on Canson Mi-tienes paper. At the time I had no real plans to finish it, but when the pastel show rolled along this year, this is the only viable pastel piece that I had in work.

I worked mostly with pastel pencils, sharpened to fine points, especially to work the detail in the face. Since I didn't plan this out very well I ended up working on a face that was only about an inch and a half long. Lesson learned,working with a face at that scale is not easy, even with pencils.

A lot of the time between starting and finishing this piece was spent wondering what to put in the background. The original reference picture was this old black and white photograph that my father-in-law took, probably sometime in the 1940's.

I left out the other figure and fiddled with the remaining figure and background for months.

Some of my experiments on the background were done digitally after scanning the in-progress drawing and playing with it in Photoshop. I did also do a lot brushing away of pastel with a brush on the paper when something didn't work out. The paper did suffer somewhat, though the Mi-Tientes held up remarkably well throughout my experimenting.

I had the most fun working on the little girl's face, trying to capture her expression. I intentionally softened the background in an effort to make the figure pop out more.

I have to admit that it did not stand out among all the striking and vibrant artwork in the show. The muted tones looked faded among all those luscious colors. It was one more thing to take note of and learn from. All in all, I was pleased with the drawing and glad that I made the effort to finish it and participate in the show.