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!

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