Wide Water Reflections, 12 x 16, pastelbord
This is the demonstration that I did for my class last Wednesday just before flying to Providence. I began with a graphite drawing and wash (below), which made the demo much easier. I didn’t have my camera, so have no intermediate photos. I did a hard pastel and alcohol underpainting. I used a lot of blues and greens in the underpainting, using an aqua for the light areas of the rocks. I lost some of the detail, but was able to get it back. I was working from a black and white photo only as I no longer had the color version. I used a lot of violets in the rocks and the painting didn’t come together until I started adding darker red violets to the trees and water reflections. I used hard pastels for the underpainting, Giraults for the background trees, rocks and water, and soft pastels for the highlighted greens, reflection in the water, and lights on the rocks. I did this painting years ago for demonstration and I know that this one is much better! I looked at the painting in the studio yesterday and added a little more to the top and bottom but this is pretty much the way it was done at the end of the demo.
Initial graphite lay-in
Beach Trees, 12 x 16, BFK Rives and Colourfix liquid primer
Another week, another snow event! We will get up to 3″ today; New England will be hit much harder. I”m thankful I went last week! Enough!!!!
I’m sharing with you all the demo that I did for a wonderful group of ladies in Tiverton. The top image is the painting, completed in my studio yesterday with full light and pastel set. One of the participants said she never got to see a finished demo. As someone with a lot of experience, I can understand why. Doing a demo is a performance for me. I talk, take questions, consider changes, and try not to take more time than I should or bore people. In order to finish the painting, I need quiet time alone in perfect conditions that enable me to see what is needed. I did the final picture without the photograph and really didn’t need it. I’ve painted this scene a number of times before and i knew what was needed.
Here are some of the major changes from the bottom image and the top. The first thing you will see is that the colors are not as refined in the original demo–the trees are too blue, the light grasses are too light. The bottom lacks the color of the final image. I began with the sky and background trees, adding more yellow (sky) and blue green (trees) on right. Added a little violet to trees on left. I also added more light to the water. I did a lot of work on the trees and grasses around them, adding more warm sienna colors and a more nuanced transition of color. On the far right background, I added a hint of a bush that broke up the curved line, which I didn’t like. I darkened the light band of grasses and tried to refine the darker spots. And I added more light to the sand, particularly in the area of the trees, along with some roots. Then I got out the red oranges–really bright!–and added them very carefully at the bottom. I could immediately see how lovely the blue green in the background read with the red orange, so I added darker pieces of blue green to the bottom and mid sections to carry it through the piece. I think it’s done and I’m very happy with it. Might enter it into a show.
Quiet Pool, Wide Water, 16 x 12, Pastelbord
I’m done! At least for today. But I think I’m pretty happy with it. This turned out to be pretty much observed color, rather than intutive; however, I believe in using whatever tools work for each individual painting. The goal is to create a successful painting, whatever it takes!
Some color notes: I did tone down the background warms with the use of grayed greens; however, I like the fact that there is warm color in the background that relates to the foreground. I also took the darkest of the cool blues that is in the sky and introduced this color into the rocks. It immediately helped tie the piece together. I put some deeper blue at the lower part of the pool and love the way it looks against the warm browns.
This was a complicated picture. Good for an online demo, but not for one in person, I don’t think! Wednesday’s to be done in the class room is a little simpler–I hope!
Hope you have enjoyed the demo. Now on the to getting ready for my trip!
Rocks painted with lots of neutrals and first lay-in of water
I’ve just worked on the rocks and more quickly put in some of the beautiful colors in the water. None of this is done. It’s interested, looking at the image as I’m typing this, at how “gray” the rocks turned out! I used grayed colors for sure. They will be refined further, but I need to complete the water and reflections to get a sense of their color. I started them out with various violets, but soon added grayed blues. They didn’t really work at all until I started adding some warmer browns and a bit of very light grayed yellow. I can see that one area is now reading like a tree reflection and doesn’t work because it doesn’t continue.
But now it’s time for lunch and a break. And, to be honest, I’m really rather glad that I’m not doing this painting in front of my class!! It takes a lot of careful thought and selection of color. I was concerned that I was doing something a little too complex. But who knows, mayber the interaction would have made it a lot better! We’ll see.
Pastels used for the rocks–a mix of grayed violets, greens, blues, and browns
“Completed” area of sky and trees against it, along with back piece of land
It’s snowing again, rather seriously! So I’m not feeling guilty for cancelling the class! I’ve just done the first, perhaps complete pass at the sky and trees. For the sky, I used all softer pastels: Ludwigs, Unisons, and Great American. I began with the blue violets at the top, with a darker color in the upper left. I worked down to warmer, lighter colors and a very light blue violet as well. Then I went back into the upper right and added a warmer, more turquoise color (you can see it in the box). For the distant band of trees, I used a combination of light majentas and browns and carried these colors into the branches over the sky. For the more solid, darker trees, I began with a dark grayed red violet Girault. (Note: the trees have mainly been done with Girault, the sky with softer. It’s a matter of the available colors and the ability to get more detail.) I mixed a little green and some warmer reddish brown into the grouping of trees in the center. There are four of them and I added a fifth to the right, which is in the picture but omitted from my original drawing. I’ve added some warm and cool browns to the distant piece of land. This may turn out to be too bright and need toning down, but for now, it’s fine.
Initial lay-in of sky colors
Pastels for sky (left) and trees (right)
Hard pastel underpainting
The color decisions for this piece were a little tricky. The rocks are basically gray–not a color I relate to very well! I like the warmth of the sky and violets in upper left, and the warm color reflecting in the water. I also like the opportunity to introduce warmer, richer color in the foreground. For the rocks, I decided to use a light cool green to represent the warm sunlit areas, with some light brown added. This will give me a lovely darker, cooler surface over which to apply the warmer lighter pastel. I also used blue greens in the trees. Basically the underpainting is in blue green, blue violet, and warm orangy browns.
In order to maintain my composition, I lay the board flat and applied the alcohol with a smallish brush. I was basically trying to tone the surface. Sometimes it washed away! However, I think I’ve retained the basic structure and feel of the painting and now can take my time with applying the pastel, beginning at the top and working down. I will work both from the black and white and color photos, as needed.
Students have asked me about whether they should be working on all parts at once. I think it depends on the painting. However, when I’ve done an underpainting like this, I know where I’m going and I feel comfortable working slowly in one area. Then I’ll go back and add colors, as needed, to avoid isolated color (this is the fun part!). But, I think that if you rush at this point, you may jeopardize the success of the painting. We’ll see!!!
Hard pastels in violets, greens and browns. Brands: Polychromos, Richeson, NuPastel
Color photo reference
This demo was supposed to be a painting from B&W photo using the BFK Rives surface. However, I decided I wanted to do some paintings from the C&O Canal and realized that there was a lot of drawing involved and the Pastelbord might be better. I also did some quick color studies on the Rives and the surface just didn’t work for me. It’s good to have alternatives! Because this was to be a demo and required a lot of drawing, I like being able to do a fairly detailed lay in, using either charcoal or graphite. I decided to use graphite (4B and 6B) in this case as I could produce finer lines and detail.
I will be using both a black and white and color photo. I like the colors in the photo and want to maintain them to some extent. However, as you’ll see in the next post, I’ll be using more color in the underpainting.
I like the composition in the photo, which consists of three diagonal shapes plus that wonderful tree at the left. What I like about the tree is that it curves back to the right at the top so it doesn’t lead the eye out of the picture plane. So I’m not making any major changes to the composition, just simplifying a bit here and there.
Technique was the next thing I had to decided. With so much drawing, I was concerned about doing a hard pastel underpainting and considered watercolor. But, I don’t have great luck with water color and decided to stick with the hard pastel, which produces a much richer wash. Will show the color choices in the next post.
In the initial lay in, there is a large shape of rock to the left that doesn’t look good. However, I plan to modulate the color in it and place pieces of sunlit twigs, etc. over it, so I think it will be OK. What I really love is the reflections of the rock in the water with the sunlit edges. Will focus on that in the painting.
Lay in with graphite on white 12 x 16 Pastelbord
Our back porch. This is a color photo!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here in Rockville, we have a fresh 8″ of snow. No more crocuses and no class today. So instead I’ll be doing a demo on my blog. Stay posted.
There is good news, however! At the next IAPS convention in June 2015, I’ll be giving an all day workshop on the use of intuitive color. Participants will bring B&W photos and their pastels and surfaces and we’ll do color studies and paint. This is my first opportunity to teach at IAPS and I’m really pleased about it. AND–I’m hoping that some of you blog followers will be there and introduce yourselves to me. It’s so much fun sharing with others. The dates of the convention are June 2-7, so my workshop will be on the 7th. IAPS is a fantastic convention with so many friendly people and such great displays of pastels. It grows every year and I just hope we never become too big to keep the spirit of the event.
Now on to my demonstration.
On the Athabaska, 16 x 12, pastelmat
I did this painting in the CAN studio this week, using a color palette that was inspired by the clothes that I wore to Annapolis last Saturday!!! I didn’t have any aqua on, but knew that would work too. So I went looking for a photo that I might use and found this one of the Athabaska River, near Jaspar, Alberta, that I painted more realistically and sold some years ago.
My color palette was violets (blue and red), greyed reds, and aqua/turquoise. I used the “sienna” Pastelmat, which is a great color as it fit right into the color palette. And I worked from a black and white photo, of course. Had to make up the foreground.
I just put this painting on Facebook with my new motto: “Life is short, paint with the colors you love”! It was also fun to work on pastelmat again after working on the textured surface. I’m not giving up on texture, but putting soft pastels on this surface is sooooo seductive!
While doing this painting, I learned of the sudden death of a librarian from the University of Vermont who was such a lovely, happy, giving person–Birdie McLennan. We never know, do we. So don’t put things off. Do what inspires you now! Give yourself permission to be happy while you are painting!
Studies on BFK Rives using various pastels
I’ve just been playing in my studio with a scrap of Rives and my favorite color gel (burnt umber light) to see what combinations of pastels will produce the best results for skies. This has often been the most difficult aspect of using a textured surface. Foliage is textured, the sky isn’t! However, we have to get over our desire to have everything exactly as it looks in nature–I’ve discovered. If you are going to have texture in a picture, it must be everywhere. However, how to avoid a gummy look is what I’m after, as well as not overdoing it and losing the color of the surface. With this in mind I first started out with just hard pastels, then just Girault, then some combinations using the soft pastels I have used in the past on this and other surfaces: Ludwig, Unison, Great American and Blue Earth. I started with the hard pastel (these are the Polychromos, which are no where as hard as the Caran d’ache) layering them on their sides. Later, in the bottom row, I made a scribbling stroke, so as not to fill in the surface. I tried using a progression of colors and values and the using just one or two colors. What excites me the most, I think, is the scribbled hard pastel with one or two Ludwigs on top. (I ruled out the Great Americans and Blue Earth, which I loved on sanded surfaces. ) It allows for a lot of the “gold” surface to show through, and the soft pastel glows rather than looking gummy. (You’ll have to double click on the image to be able to see this). This has been fun! I’ve probably not resolved it all yet, but I’m liking the results so far.
AND now for spring!!! 65 on Tuesday they say. We are all ready for this! Happy weekend. You’ll also note that I figured out how to add the image and then the text (it was as simple as hitting the enter key!)