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.


  1. I love the expression on her face.

    I think this subject calls for more delicate colouring so wouldn't have looked right if more vibrant.

    1. Thanks Sue! I also think the low key colors worked well for the small scale and the cute subject. I'm trying something a little bolder now and trying not to rely too much on my pastel pencils. I need to do something that I can use my beautiful, soft Terry Ludwigs pastels on. I suppose I'll get the hang of it, but right now when I use them it feels like I'm trying to draw with tubes of lipstick :-)