Yesterday I was privileged to give a demonstration for the Maryland Pastel Society. I did a lot of work ahead of time, all before Christmas–drawing, color studies, and the drawing on the 20 x 20 board. For the demo, I focused on color and chose a split complement of blue green/red orange and blue violet/ yellow orange. I filled my small Heilmann box with just those four colors. And I even wore clothes that matched!!! Today I put in a couple of hours on making it a lot better in the quiet and privacy of my studio.
I did a hard pastel underpainting using warm under cool and cool under warm (primarily) and found the result rather interesting. But I wiped out a lot of the detail in the carefully done drawing. I was working a little too fast, probably.
The houses are a combination of blue green and blue violet over the warm brown underpainting. I used a slightly lighter green pastel to indicate the “white” trim. There is a band of cedar trees in front of them that are also a combination of blues and greens.
The area of marsh grasses at top was a challenge. When I first did them, they were too orange. So I swiped some green on top and that calmed them down. But it was also too large of an area and too boring (see the underpainting). I came up with the solution of cutting the line so that one part juts out . That was a bit improvement.
For the sky and water I used various aquas. In the sky, I used the same greenish Great American that I used in my pumpkin field painting. For the water I used some darker and lighter colors. Aqua is a beautiful color and it looks so wonderful with all of the warm colors.
The hard part was the foreground. There is so much of it and it’s where all the detail is! Little pebbles, foot prints in the sand, rocks, grasses, seaweed! During the demo, I added some light orange highlights in the grasses in the midleft. It was too early to do it, but I wanted to show people what I had in mind. But I was getting really tired by the time I got to the sand and rocks! I used the same combination of colors in all of the rocks in the foreground, which was quite boring.
So I was tired and sore by the end of the day but I felt that the demo was a success. Today’s changes make me feel much better about it! Here they are.
I refined the houses and delineated the two telephone poles. I brushed more color over the trees, ending with a dark grayed warm green. I did more work with the edge of the marsh, adding some lights on the top and trying to keep it from being one dark line.
In the mid-left grasses, I brushed out most of the light orange I had used, and went in with a light grayed green. I think that it gives the effect of light without hitting you over the head! The other was too noticeable. I think they have a more natural look now.
I did a lot of work with the water, adding the light orange in the middle and to the left. I believe that the light is coming from gap in the houses above.
I changed the shapes of the rocks at bottom and gave them more color. I also added more colors to the sand and refined the rocks on the left.
As my husband said, this was a pretty detailed painting to do as a demo! While I knew I’d never finish it completely, I think I gave people a good idea how to plan out and execute a difficult picture.