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!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New Colored Pencil Project - In Dreams

I had the idea of doing flying or dreaming scenes for a while now. Looking through Deviant Art stock photos I came across the perfect reference for what I had in mind. Dazzle-stock at Deviant Art has a wonderful collection of images of graceful and dynamic poses. I based my figure drawing on the image called I Want to Fly (which you can see here).

I made a few changes to get it looking like she is actually flying and probably will continue tweaking as I go.

I decided to reuse a Canson C' a Grain Art Board I had experimented with before. The experiment failed, by the way. I took it to a pastel workshop hoping I could try my pastels on it, but soon found out, it definitely does not like pastels. Anything more than one layer of pastel fell right off. I was ready to toss the board in the trash when it occurred to me that I might be able to remove the remaining pastel. I took a stiff brush to the board and managed to remove most of it. Then using the fabulous General's Tri-Tip eraser, I got a lot more of the embedded stuff off. I've used this eraser before to remove pastel from sanded boards and was amazed at how well it worked. This was a tip from Lisa Ober in a pastel workshop I took last October.

Still after all my erasing, the board was stained, but I figured it could be an interesting under painting!

This is what I had after transferring the drawing and doing a little coloring around the edges of the figure to see if I would be able to cover up the ghostly image of Marty's smiling face in the background. It seemed doable.

It's been slow going building up the colored pencil to a good dark for the background. I decided to use solvent to make the job easier. Here it is so far, the result of alternating between laying colored pencil and brushing with solvent.

Here is a closer look.

I changed the feet a little from the original drawing, shortened and slimmed them down. I rotated the heel on the bottom foot to make it look a little more natural, hopefully. Now I see that the arms look too long so will probably shorten them too.

I like this C' a Grain Art Board very much for colored pencils. It has a resilient surface which can take many layers of pencil and erases very well. The surface is somewhat textured, something like stonehenge or the Bristol 500 vellum papers. As for using a solvent, the surface didn't seem to roughen or be any worse for wear after using Turpenoid on it.

Lesson learned: The C' a Grain Art Board is a no-no for pastels, lovely for colored pencils.