Monday, February 25, 2013

Last Light

Last Light 11x14 pastel, copyright 2013

After I had so much fun with the little 6x6 pastels on claybord, I decided to try again with a larger one.   It works!  I am really loving this surface.  It doesn't take as many layers as the paper, but that's a good thing.  I tend to try to correct mistakes by adding more color and end up with "mud".  It takes some effort to fix when it's on paper and I've ruined a few erasers (and some paper) in the attempt.  But with this surface I can just wipe it down with a wet rag, paint on a little more primer and go back to work.  Perfect!

This scene is from a series of photos I took this fall while my husband drove me around the backroads near our house.  I've gotten a lot of inspiration from those photos, so don't be surprised if you see even more of them in the future.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Evening Glow

Evening Glow 6x6 pastel, copyright 2013
available for purchase $75 in my etsy shop

Two years ago I was experimenting with a new (to me) surface for oil paintings: 6x6 clayboard.   Designed for water based media, the clay coated surface soaked up the oils.  I coated it with pastel primer to make it less absorbant and also gave it a bit of texture.

Lately I've been thinking about surfaces for my pastels, something a little more sturdy but not outrageously expensive.  Some artists use gatorboard, but it isn't acid free.  Suddenly it occurred to me that clayboard would do the trick.  There were only two pieces left.  The first was covered in red acrylic, then pastel primer was applied with a very soft bristle brush.  On the second I used pink.

The results?  It's perfect!  The first one turned out quite well, the clayboard works just as well as any sanded paper, plus when framed it needs no backing board for support.  It looks great in the gold frame I had bought for the oil paintings.  The second one turned into a wiper, but that's okay - I just took it to the kitchen sink and sprayed it down - now it's good to go.  The other nice thing about clayboard is that it can be purchased in large sheets and cut down to size.  I think I'm going to have fun with this!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Tank top

Tank Top 12x16 charcoal, copyright 2013

Back to Life Drawing this week.  There were three poses; two were twenty minutes and one was forty minutes.  The twenty minute poses didn't turn out very well, but the forty minute one did.  The left hand and arm were at a very awkward angle to me and were erased several times, so I never got the chance to finish them.  I'm satisfied with everything else though.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tell me a story

Footprints in the Heart 9x12 pastel, copyright 2013

This fall I decided I would give portrait painting a serious try for the first time.  A year and a half of Life Drawing session had given me some confidence, and I had the perfect photo to work from.  Or so I thought.

As I started working, it became more and more obvious that the photo was not the best choice to use.  It was grainy, the lighting wasn't great, and the angle of the face was unusual.  However, this mimics a lot of situations for commissioned portrait painting, so I just went with it.  Four months later I have come to conclusion that I just don't have the patience to be a commissioned portraitist.

Don't get me wrong, I'm quite happy with how it turned out, but the path to get there was long and frustrating.  It was erased and wiped and reworked and overworked and erased again so many times that I had to walk away and let it sit on several occasions.  I have gained huge admiration for portrait artists, they have the hardest job in the art world in trying to make everyone happy!

Some of you will recognize the subject of this painting, but others will not.  The reason I chose this particular image is for the story it seems to tell.  Like Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring (not that I can even compare myself to Vermeer!) a good portrait should tell a story - or let the viewers make their own stories.