Monday, September 8, 2014

"Conversation" Animals, pastel, 11 x 14"

"Conversation" Pastel, 11 x 14"
I created this painting on Uart sanded paper using Rembrandt pastels and Nupastels. Check out my process below in the progress shots to see how I created this many layered piece.  I really like this painting and I am looking forward to showing it this weekend at Second Sundays art and music fest in Williamsburg.

My process of making a pastel painting
First I create  reference photo on photo shop.  Here is where I play with the composition , color and value.  I used to do this by hand as they taught in art school, but I am a product of recent times I guess. It is not unusual for me to combine multiple photos taken from my own camera as well as stock photos.  Once satisfied with the image I draw this onto my paper.  Sometimes I trace, sometimes I draw by eye depending on the subject matter.  If I do trace, it is only to center the piece since you loose all of the drawing after the first application of pastel.

Next comes the underpainting.  I do a quick application of ocher on top of my graphite pencil drawing and run a brush loaded with rubbing alcohol over it.  I simply add darker pastels, diluted with the brush until I have a full warm value scale.  I avoid using black or white directly so far. This process can be done in many ways and varies depending on my support, (paper). 

It is during the first pass with dry pastels  where I develop the temperature of the painting.  I add cool tones to the shadows and warm tones to the areas in direct sun, still avoiding the use of white or black. When I am done with this step I spray with Krylon Workable Fixative.  This sort of melts the layers together but you can usually still see both layers. Usually the painting is very bright after this step.  Sometimes I leave it this way if I am in a bright sort of mood.

During the second pass with the pastels I add the local colors. Local color refers to the actual color of an object.  The animals are brownish grey, the grass is green and the sky is soft greenish blue etc.  The temperature and value layers will shine through this layer.  I start to use white and black pastels.  Be careful how much you use them because they can suck the color right out of a painting. I spray after this layer.

During the last pass I turn the painting upside down.  I divide the photo into sections and zoom in to view only one section at a time.  This is where my painting gets very tight.  This is where I add texture and play with the colors.

I don't recommend this last step to my students who choose to work more painterly.  I however have always loved photo realism, so I do as the photo realists do. Do whatever brings you joy, that's my thoughts on the matter.  Of course my collage professors hated the way I painted and they told me all of the time that I lacked creativity. In the mid 80s my art school did not teach how to paint, but how to throw paint on a canvas and write a paper on it. ha! Photo realism was taboo then, at least it was at BGSU.  Fortunately photo realism has made a comeback.

Often times, when I think I am done I will marinate the painting if I have time.  Ill hide it somewhere for a few days, months or even years.  I also often view photos of it on photo shop where I can make digital changes to it before committing changes to the actual painting.  In this particular painting I changed quite a bit after viewing it on photoshop.  I increased the reflective light, softened some of the grass and edited the expressions on the faces.

When the painting is done you should be able to see the value scale, the temperature layer and the detail layers all together in a nice textured piece. I do not use fixative after the last layer, but blow on the paper to remove excess dust before framing.  The fixative can dull a pastel painting. The sanded paper is so toothy that it holds the pastels in place forever with out the use of fixative.

I will be teaching this method at This Century Art Gallery on Mondays from 1 - 3 pm, starting on September 15.   Join us!

No comments:

Post a Comment