|"Three Sheep" Animals, pastel, 12 x 18"|
In this painting I wanted to show depth and so I emphasized the warm tones, cool tones and the effects of softening the strokes as the painting receded. I put the closest sheep to the left in hopes that the other two animals would lead the viewers eye back into the piece. I will be totally honest with you. This is not my favorite piece. The sheep look sort of goofy,but I got some amazing responses to it at my last show, so I guess it appeals to folks. I posted some progress shots below.
Using pastel is all about layering. Some artists stop with one or two layers,but I tend to add around 5 passes. First I create an underpainting using pastel and rubbing alcohol. I prefer ochre and warm, reds and browns for this step so that the painting will seem to have an inner glow when done. I created this on Uart sanded paper using mostly Rembrandt and Nupastel pastels.
After establishing the underpainting I start to place darkest values followed by the mid tones. The hues tend to be much more vivid than the local colors from the photo. I am also establishing the temperatures at this point. Cool colors belong in the shadows and warm hues belong where the sun hits the animals directly.
During the next few passes I start to add local colors. I usually fix the painting in between these passes. This allows the under layers to shine through instead of mixing with the top layer and making mud.
Here is the second to last pass. I am starting now to focus on small areas at a time. I zoom in on the photo on my computer as I do this. I always draw from my computer when at all possible. The final pass is very detailed. It is during this step that I am often able to work with out the reference photo and just play with the colors and value until it looks right.
For those of you who consider tracing to be cheating and a sign that the artist can not draw, I challenge you to hand me a pencil, a sketch pad and have you sit for me for 5 minutes. I promise that I can draw you accurately! HA! Just had to put that out there for all of you misguided haters.