Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Quick pastel sketches

This week at my art group evening, I couldn't make up my mind what to do.............. procrastination is a killer!! So what was I to do? I really don't paint as much as I ought to and I shopuldn't be wasteing my time there trying to make up my mind. So I stuck in a hypothetical pin and chose two subjects from a handy magazine. I had my pastel box with me so thought I would just do a couple of quick 20 minute sketches and pick one of those for a "proper" painting next week.

This was the result:-

This took my fancy because of the limited range of colours. Basically an analagous colour scheme, if you are not sure check out this page by myself on How To Use The Colour Wheel. The subject was also quite simple, although I admit I  took this to extremes here. A very peaceful scene.

Again this is quite simplistic, but lots of detail for the time allowed. After the last one I kept the colour choices to a restricted palette except for one or two passages to contrast with the blues. The high peak on the right seems a lot darker than it should. It causes the eye to wander to the edge of the painting - not a good compositional choice. However I was rushing to complete in the 20 minutes.

I think that the first of these will be my subject for next week, quite like the vignetting and may incorporate this into the work.

will let you see it when I have finished it, bye for now.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

An approach to painting with artists pastels - layering colours

After the last post, I thought at my art group this week I would prepare an easy demo of the way that I approach my pastel paintings.

I often use several layers, using fixative between each layer. The free use of a fixative is often deprecated in many books and tutorials but I find that by building up a textured layer effect, I can get paintings which I am very pleased with. Of course high-lights, particularly in white should be left for the last layer, which I do not fix as in this case fixing will have a deleterious effect on the colours. However I find that darker colours are not affected and fixing each layer helps to build up a wonderful "tooth" so that subsequent layers do not become "muddy".

I decided to do another very simple beach scene, sky with clouds and sand. There is a suggestion of something at the horizon but no etailed imagery. This demo is about the painterly effects not about drawing.

I started by covering the rough cardboard media with complementary colours where the sky and the beach were to be.

This was quickly followed ( after the fixative had dried) by slashes of colour applied with the side of the pastel stick. I have also rubbed the pastel into the surface using my finger tips.I do not want the colour of the card showing thru at all.

You can see the first layer thru the new layer. Interestingly, I had used this board for drawing practice before I started to do this demo and had wiped off the pastel with a cloth; the remains of the image show thru the applied pastel - see central uper sky area. You can also see that I have left a little gap at the horizon. I sometimes run the colours together depending on the subject, the amount of overlap depends on the effect to be achieved.

Not quite satisfied with the cover at the last stage, I have applied more of the blues and yellows. In fact I used three shades of each colour. It is fairly easy to pick out the shades of blue because of the recession that I am looking for in the sky.

I have now put some clouds in with white and used a reddish shade of brown ( actual colour unknown- I have a large collection of pastels and I now I should remember the colours but I pick out of the box something close to what I want). I have also gone over the whole painting with another layer, again using the sides of the sticks but very lightly. I am now catching the previously applied pastel which gives what I think is a wonderful texture and which is something I always strive for in my pastel landscapes. The purple at the horizon is also beginning to be built to look as if something might just be there.

I was unhappy with the sky at the last stage, the darkest and lightest shades of blue were too obvious, so I have mixed a little of each in this image and sacrificed some of the texture by rubbing them together with my finger tips. I have also applied a little white into the yellow, but maintained the textures here.

A little more texture and a few clouds below the main bank in the distance. I am now happy with this as a painting and will leave it alone, to be viewed later.

Although this is an extremely simple landscape, I find that it does offer something, and this is the texture which I can achieve using this layering technique with fixing between each stage. I started to do this when I first used pastels for abstract work and think of it as something I have developed but would be ready to be proved wrong if you know different.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

A simple beach scene in pastel and the effect of minor details.

Following the last post, I took out my pastels again. It had been quite a while since I had used them and I was looking for an idea for simple composition to get my hand in again. I seem to switch between watercolours and pastels regularly with a dabble with acrylics now and again. Nice to keep myself on my toes, but I always seem to need to play around with each media for a little before I try a major painting. re-learning the hand / brush movements because each is so very different to any of the others. Pastels and acrylics allow overpainting whereas watercolour of course is not so forgiving. I always make use of this ability to lay a background colour, often a complementary hue before painting the true colour for an object.

For example, I will colour any grass area red/orange before layering over this with a green/yellow hue. My prefered method of using pastels is to prepare the painting with the complementary colours and then to fix them. I tend to use cheap hairspray for this, it works well and it smells nice. I will then use the pastel on its side to wipe on the second and third colours. I find that this allows the development of a very useful texture. I first found out about this technique when creating abstracts but I now use it for virtually all my pastel paintings.

You can see this effect most clearly in the sky in this WIP image, although it is also used in the foreground and in the hills behind the building. The unfinished appearance of the painting is striking when compared to the completed work although only a few minor details are added.

I have slightly darkened the purple hills and the texture is now almost hidden, but have added shadows to the left of the nearer hills to give a little detail and bring them forward a little. A few minor additions to the buildings and their connection to the ground upon which they stand help to identify and ground them. Further layering of colours to the foreground adds texture to bring it forward. And most importantly, the boat is modelled with shadow. The last addition was the grasses/reeds in the lower left corner to add a touch of balance, without overpowering the very simple composition. Just shows what the addition of a few details can do for a painting, however never go too far. Know when to stop. It is easy to add more but difficult to take it away again.

I have to say that I do in fact like this and will probably frame it. I have already had one or two appreciative comments, which makes it all worthwhile from members of my art group and from contacts on Flickr where you can see a larger image of the finished work.

I will try to post a better explanation of the technique I use in another post, take a few more pictures which show the progress of the painting, as the pastel is applied. I have not seen this written about anywhere else and would be grateful if you have seen a tutorial to perhaps let me know. At the moment, I keep saying that it is a technique I have developed but am open to being shown otherwise.