Showing posts with label demonstration in pastel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label demonstration in pastel. Show all posts

11 Feb 2006

Pastel Demonstration: 'Danse d' Espagnole'

I have just completed this piece in the past two days and this time I remembered to take photos at various stages! I am working on Colorfix 47 x 32 cms (half a large sheet) and as you can see the ground colour is a soft biscuit yellow. The pastels I am using are Mungyo (hard), Winsor & Newton (mostly medium soft ones) plus a few very soft Schminke pastels.


I begin by drawing out a simplified figure. I always think hard about where exactly I want to place an image on the paper .... on this occasion I am going for a slight cut-off at the top, which I hope will add a sense of intimacy and drama!


Here I am blocking in some colours for the background. I am using hard pastels on their side and making sweeping strokes and marks to suggest movement. I am also trying to echo the motion of the figure.

I then rub these colours gently into the paper using a piece of soft paper from a kitchen roll.


I block in the dress using a dark purple. The pastel stick is a hard one and I blend the strokes a bit afterwards with another piece of paper towel.

I put in light flesh tones and some shading to the skin areas. I am deliberately keeping her skin very pale ..... for more drama!

I put a lot of detail into her hair - I want skin and hair to be virtually finished early on so that I don't have to come back to them later. I also work on the earring.
Next I make a start on adding more, and darker, colours to the backgound behind her right shoulder.


I am adding both cool and warm reds and purples to her dress, trying to indicate the body contours, folds and creases of material.

Continuing to work on the background in the upper left corner I add some green ... but then change my mind! This is quickly remedied by wiping out the area with a wet, wrung-out cloth and letting it dry. I am experimenting a lot here ... trying out different colours and shades to see what I think 'works' best.


I am continuing to build up the background layers and the shadows ..... it's all taking a lot longer than I had hoped!!!!

I have kept the shadows on the dress to purple/dark blue so far but I am not happy, ......... so I decide to introduce dark green into them to add more 'bite'.
Most of the colours that I introduce into the figure are echoed in the background for harmony.I decide that I am VERY UNHAPPY INDEED with the lower part of the painting. Somehow the skirt and the frills are not how I want them, and they seem to detract from the overall effect.

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Well, I didn't exactly take the axe to it .... just a gentle trim with the paper knife!

I am far happier with it now. In fact I may even trim a bit more off ............. we'll see!

Having worked on this for hours I need to put it to one side for a while so that I can look at it with fresh eyes another day. Always a good idea!

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20 Dec 2005

Help! What do I do now? - putting pastels right!

I like to work on Art Spectrum Colorfix paper. This is like a thick sandpaper, comes in a variety of colours and is very robust when it comes to making corrections to ones work. For one thing it does not buckle if it gets a bit wet ... so this means that one can 'wipe off' areas of pastel using a wet cloth and work over that part of the painting once it is dry. Knowing this is very helpful and also leaves me feeling free to take a few risks while I am working!

But what if a whole painting turns out to be less than acceptable? Well I can show you one method of overcoming this problem. When I finished my demonstration of 'Coastal Rocks' (previous post) and had looked at it over several days, I decided that I was not satisfied with it. This was mainly because I had overworked some areas and they were looking a bit muddy:

So I decided that I would take off most of the layers of pastel and rework the whole painting. To do this I first of all brushed off as much pastel as I could using a stiff paintbrush. This is quite a messy process and I took care not to create too much 'free-floating' pastel dust, by brushing gently downwards onto a piece of newspaper. I then carefully vacuumed up all the loose dust.

Then I 'washed' over the surface of the paper with a wet 2" brush in order to 'set' the loose pigments that remained. I did this with horizontal sweeps of the brush starting at the top of the paper. Washing the brush after each stroke I worked across the paper from left to right, overlapping each sweep as I gradually moved down the surface of the paper.

Once I had finished and allowed the surface to dry I was left with a 'ghostly' image of the original painting:

Now all I had to do was rework the painting using similar colours to my original idea. This time the finished painting was much nearer to the image I had in my mind's eye!

I hope that you will agree that this reworking looks much cleaner and brighter!

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12 Dec 2005

W.I.P. Pastel painting demonstration "Coastal rocks"

hallo ... thank you for looking!

Thought that you might be interested in seeing the steps to painting in soft pastel. Sometimes these vary here and there. but this is a basic method of working.

This painting will be on Art Spectrum Colorfix paper. This has a nice tooth (much like sandpaper) so can hold quite a few layers of soft pastel. Colorfix paper is available in various colours - the colour of this particular sheet is a mushroom grey .... This is not my favourite colour to work on! I usually choose brick red, burgundy or black, .... but I need to use it up!

I am working from one of my own photographs as a reference, and begin by drawing the subject with a blue pastel pencil. I then indicate the darkest areas by shading with black pastel.

Darks - it is quite hard to get really dark darks in pastel so I tend to start with black in those areas and work over them. The drawback of this method is that you can very quickly turn your picture into mud if you are not very careful. It is safer to PAINT your darks in at the beginning using watercolour or acrylic.

Next I scribble in some of the darker colours that I want to show through in the underpainting. This is also a chance to try out colours to be included in subsequent layers. The lightest areas in the rocks are indicated.

I am working with scribbly strokes and marks using the blunt end of the pastel and also with broad 'swipes' using the pastel on its side.

Starting at the top of the painting and working down I start to lightly put in side strokes of blues, greens and purples for the ocean colouring. The same process is applied to the rocks using warm and cool tones.

I use harder pastels for these underneath layers so as not to fill the tooth of the paper too soon. I am trying to cover the paper with colour although I do not mind if it shows through here and there if appropriate (like on the rocks).

Starting at the top once again I work my way down trying to get the colours and effects as close to 'finished' as I possible can. Frequent stops to look at the painting in a mirror help me to judge tone and colour values.

At this stage I start blending the colours in a variety of ways to get the effects that I want, - blending with my fingers, stroking soft pastel over hard pastel, dragging hard pastel over soft.

I concentrate on the ocean and the distant rocks until I get down to the bases of those in the foreground.

Colourwise - I am actually using a fairly limited palette of around 16 colours .... several blues, greens, ochres plus two reds and two purples.

I rarely ever use pure white in my paintings because I do not like the unnatural chalky look it gives. For highlights I try to use the very lightest tone of a cool or warm yellow or blue.

I work on the foreground rocks blending the colours in the same ways. It is fun to play around a little and try different colours, but I always make sure that my colours are 'echoed' elsewhere in the painting for colour harmony.

Once I am reasonable happy with the rocks I start working on the reflections and small rocks in the foreground.

The final stage is always a mixture of relief that the end is in sight and anxiety wondering when is the right moment to stop! This is where the final touches are decided upon - colours are modified where necessary, highlights added, shadows warmed or cooled. Lots of decisions need to be made!

Well! - I think that it is finished but I will put it somewhere where I can look at it every now and then before I finally decide ....... !!

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