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.
Here, I used a medium blue paper and tried out different techniques, such as circular blending with the pastel itself, a torchon, fingers. I used vine charcoal and charcoal pencils for some of the finer lines.
The snow on the trees was an interesting challenge. To accomplish it, I scribbled some pure white pastel onto it, and then used the tip of the torchon to blend around it.
Compositionally, I think there is something missing here . . . I also think the midground could be a bit different to convey a sense of depth.
For a second bout with pastels, I can say I am enjoying what I am doing, even though I have to dress like a hazmat worker! (I wear a mask to keep the dust down.)
I started out with an attempt at doing a realistic succulent in gouache. It just wasn’t there. Then my pastels class came between it and me. And this ode to Audrey (from “Little Shop of Horrors” fame) moved into a sort of abstraction of its own. Normally my gouache tends to be done with thick paint and a stiff brush; here, softer paint and a softer brush. Quite a different experience and one I will need to revisit.
Yesterday I started an 8 week course in pastels. Already I am in love with the medium! Add to this, the teacher is a real teacher – she is a professional who teaches full time in an elementary classroom. She is organized, states what she expects, interacts, demonstrates, and all the things that are so important in learning something new. Some teachers just say “have at it” and you stumble along, not knowing what you are doing. Yes, experience is a good teacher, but explanations and clarity really help one understand what is going on. I am looking forward to more classes!
Here is a picture from the Malibu Creek State Park near where I live. We all had a copy of a photograph to use, and then she explained the Rule of Thirds, the Golden Mean, and explained how she changed the composition of the photo to meet the needs of the Rule of Thirds. Value studies, too, were done before even picking up a color.
We used Nupastels, made by Prismacolor. Inexpensive but very nice. I have some Rembrandt soft pastels that I will use later on, or in conjunction with the ones we have in the classroom. As I love colors and drawing, this is a perfect combination of “things” – and these pictures are not “drawings” but “paintings” in the lexicon of the teacher. I never considered a pastel a painting.
I have not been this excited about a class in a very, very long time.
Where-oh-where does time go? I have been busy – so busy – that I have not sat down with a brush or piece of paper in ages it seems. Sewing socializing, health, family, photography, hiking, knitting – just some of the things taking up my time. I can’t use cold weather as an excuse. I’ve been more busy than I am used to – and enjoying all of it.
And yesterday? The weather was lovely, so out into the dog free zone I went, travel palette, cup of water, a paper towel, water brushes. The 6×8 Bee paper is perfect for just playing – it’s a decent paper, 100% cotton, and heavy enough to mush a lot of water around on both sides. I just played, using the daffodils in a vase inside – brought outside – plants on the patio, fruit and vegetables from the kitchen. I could tell I was rusty – but had fun anyway!
I need to remember my promise to myself when I retired: paint or draw every day! Like a vitamin or a prayer – good for the soul.
I am really rather pleased with this gouache – haven’t done any since last year! When I am painting in gouache, each one begins okay, with clear ideas in my head. And then it gets really and truly hideous. And then, it changes, almost by itself, and comes together in a way that watercolor doesn’t. I don’t know how to describe it, but the process is quite magical – just like snowy woods in the late afternoon.
More work with wet-in-wet, this time accompanied by using frisket to keep the areas of the birch trees white, and to keep a few other bits white, too. First step was to paint the sky across the trees, then the orange bracken and other foliage. From there – just a few details, some negative painting, and so on. I think there could be more contrast on the birch trees, but stopped to keep myself from overworking it.