Monday, March 12, 2012

Ray Hassard pastel workshop, Day 1

Still Life with Mangos 12x9 pastel, copyright 2012

This weekend's workshop with Ray Hassard at the lovely Baker Hunt Art and Cultural Center in Covington, Kentucky marks the first time I have had any formal instruction in pastel techniques.  It was designed to be a beginning class and while I wouldn't consider myself a beginner, in a way the lack of training puts me in that category.  The whole idea was to play with new techniques, new papers and new pastels.

First of all I have to say that Ray was an excellent teacher.  He was patient and helpful and encouraged me to do more, which is what I needed.  He started out with detailed discussions about the medium, then moved on to a demonstration all the while answering students' questions and enthralling us with stories of his extensive travels overseas.  He was familiar with the methods of other artists, often pausing to point them out in the many instructional books he had brought along.

In the afternoon it was time for the students to have a go at various still lifes he had set up around the room.  I chose a paper I had never used before, La Carte by Sennilier, and was told not to get it even a little bit wet or the water based texture of the paper would simply come off, taking the pastel with it.  While most of the time I used my own pastels, I did dive into his big box of miscellaneous sticks.  This painting is the result of the day's work.

I've decided that I don't really care for the La Carte paper, it's a bit too rough in texture for my tastes.  But I do like the very soft pastels and went back often to a very dark purple from Great American Art Works, a Cincinnati based company.  But what I really got out of the day was Ray pushing me to spread the colors around, especially the red, so that one item (believe it or not, it's a bowl) did not become isolated or pop forward too much.  And he really had me work to keep the background more interesting, always a challenge for me.  Some aspects of it, such as the background and jar, came out well and others like the red bowl and mangos, not so much.  But it was fun the see what works and what doesn't.

Day 2 tomorrow...

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