Lavender Field

Pastels are getting to be addictive.  Unfortunately, this scan for some reason came out a bit too yellow-green, but I wasn’t interesting in putzing with it!

I tried a few different things here – in particular how I made marks.  Vertical and horizontal to contrast.  Obviously the lavender is vertical and tilty, but in between, horizontal helps create some interest.  The trees I used a torchon to scumble and blend the colors, as well as push shapes into the sky.

I know I am getting addicted to this – I just ordered a roll of Uart 600 grit sanded paper – 56 x 10 yards.  That should last awhile!  This was done on a 9 x 12 inch bit of Canson Mi Teintes, which is a very nice paper, but unsanded.  I like them both.

Northern Marsh

Still working in pastel.  I cleaned up the pastels I was using yesterday by putting them in a container of corn meal and shaking them gently.  It did the job.  I also took a different approach to today’s painting, and the difference is evident to me (cuz I did it!).

I decided to use a piece of 7×11 Uart 800 sanded pastel paper, which is the finest grit in the Uart series.  I bought a sample pack a while back, and now that I think I get how to use pastels fairly well, I thought it was time to begin.  Having cleaner pastels also helped.  I also decided to work from light to dark this time, like a watercolor, and it seems to have been a bit more successful.  My colors were getting rather muddy in the last one.  I also did not apply any fixative to the painting until it was done.  In the others I had used workable fixative between layers.

Overall, rather a bit more pleased with this pastel painting than yesterday’s.  It was more pleasant to do, probably in part because I simplified my approach.  Working light to dark – putting in the sky and water first – may also have helped.  The Uart 800 sanded pastel paper was really nice, too, and gave a nice smooth finish as the paper has a very fine tooth to it.  I used a final fixative on it, but I am still unsure how many layers of final fixative are to be used.

Now, time to attach sleeves to the sweater I am knitting!

Hendry’s Beach

The California coastline varies from top to bottom.  Some areas have wide, flat sandy beaches, and others are at the base of rugged cliffs, sometimes accessible, sometimes not.  State law says the beaches are for everyone, and must be accessible.  People in Malibu and some areas south of San Francisco have rich people who won’t grant access, and lawsuits have been fought long and hard.  There is even an app for your phone that tells you where you can access beaches in Malibu, in spite of the fake “No Beach Access” signs put out by land owners on the coast.  Funny, but not funny.

Hendry’s Beach (often called “Henry’s Beach”) is a long-time favorite and a popular one in Santa Barbara.  At low tide, you can walk a long distance, but if you are not careful about the tides, you could get caught!  The ocean is sometimes out enough that a lagoon is formed, and then disappears when the tide comes in.

Between the Trees

What caught my eye here are the shadows across the roadway.  I just recently read that shadows are essentially the color of whatever is beneath them.  Thus, shadows on green grass are darker green; shadows on a sandy path are darker shades of sand.  The blue sky also impacts shadows, as does the sun, such as filtering through the leaves.  Distance is demonstrated (as always!) by less detail and lighter, perhaps bluer, things in the distance.   Here, I was interested in the cast shadows along with trying to catch the flickering sunshine through the leaves.

A Pair of Pears

By far, this is the best of the 4 pastels I have done thus far.  It sort of came together.  Watching a YouTube video helped, too, to get an idea about how to proceed.

I used my fingers for most of the blending, and used a baby wipe in between to clean up dirty finger tips.  I also worked the primary background and foreground first, working around the pears before doing the pears themselves.  For the Saguaro painting, I had done the cactus first and then the sky – not really successful as the sky became a bit smudged with the greens.  Live and learn!  I used a torchon / stump for the areas closest to the pears and in the shadows to help isolate things.  I cleaned them off with rough sandpaper – 100 grit.

Another thing I did was consider color and complementary colors in the painting.  I simplified and did big areas before moving into smaller and more defined regions.

Of course, not all paintings will be this successful!  It’s fun to compile knowledge and start using it when creating a picture or painting.  The simplicity of this painting pleases me, but it was a more complex process than may appear because of the multiple layers of color put down.

Saguaro

This is my third pastel, and second subject from the class on Monday.

There are some things I learned in doing this pastel.  First, the large cactus has to be put in after the sky because it is just too big – the sky and the cactus – to work around.  The mountains and smaller cacti are fine.  I had to redo the sky a bit, and if you look, you can see halos of the cacti in the sky.  Live and learn!

I also had to totally redo the foreground – it was all the same tonality!  Midtoned.  So, I went in and worked in a lot, a lot, a lot of lighter colors.  It worked.  Before there was nothing leading the eye to the big cactus- now there is to some degree.

The foreground plants in the corner are also at issue here.  While they are lighter than the middle ground’s plants, they are not quite right.  I need to increase the contrast within them, I think, to help them become individualized from the sandy dirt around them.

Finally, it is interesting to realize the importance of fixatives in the process of doing a pastel painting.  Harder pastels don’t create as much dust (Nupastel) as do softer ones (Rembrandt).  A “workable fixative” is necessary as the layers go down.  A “final fixative” is applied when the painting is done.  I have both, but the final fixative still allows the pastel to be rubbed off to some degree.

So, third painting, and I am getting the hang of it.  Still very amateurish – my lack of depth perception always seems to get me.  “Look at the light!” is my constant reminder, as well as the tricks of creating distance in a 2-dimensional painting.  Gouache painting has proven to be very helpful here.