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.

Dry Garden

This is just a little sketch done this morning with a local Meetup group.  There were only three of us, but every time I go to one of this group’s get-togethers, I feel like a princess.  Alison, the leader, does a lovely job.  Me, I am a no-frills type of person, so when someone goes to a lot of trouble for a simple thing, and does it with such evident pleasure, it is just a luxurious feeling!

Anyway, we met at our local library, yacked a bit about watercolor and color theory, and then moved off to the native plant garden.  It was mid-90s, so a shady spot was found, we plopped down, and painted in between the chit chat.  Still, I tried to focus on contrast and depth . . . this painting turned out better than I expected as it had my usual anemic colors, but ended up fairly decent.  It’s about 5×7 inches.