Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Learning a new medium at night

Pastel portrait

I think I mentioned before that it has become our ritual at night for the adults to gather in the family room at night, and either watch a program on tv, read, play a game or generally relax and have conversation together. When the four of us get together after a busy day, there is usually some topic of conversation that we are ready to tackle!

During that time, my daughter and I usually have our drawing boards out, and are  enjoying a time of creating with our newest medium(s) - charcoal and pastel. Zebra and Two Burros are both black and white pieces that I did over the course of several evenings, and now I have ventured into color. 

Since I am just exploring, and have not taken or read any instruction on using pastels, I am not sure how one is supposed to create different colors. I think, though, that I would need to actually buy the color I need rather than being able to create the color like I do with paints...

Anyway, I used the colors I had to do this portrait - and it turned out to be a fun learning experience. :-) I do plan to do several more pieces in the black and white "series" as I loved how they turned out...


teresa stieben said...

Is it chalk pastel you are using?
I have experience with chalk pastel. I used to do portrait commissions in chalk pastel. Now that I have a studio I hope to set up an area to work in pastel once again.

Joanne said...

Hi Teresa!
Yes - this is chalk pastel. I really like how it goes on the paper - but am I right in that you need to have the color you want, rather than blending two colors to get a third color as in painting? Any advice would be great! Thanks. :-)

Jeanette said...

Great start for your pastel experience.

I don't do a lot of pastel work, but like all other pieces, I layer and mix either optically or physically to get what I want out of the medium.
Take a look at Casey Klahn's site to see how he handles it.

teresa stieben said...

For portraiture I layer various colors starting with what I see under the skin; for example does the skin have an underlying green, blue, yellow or purple tinge to it. The color seen below the surface becomes the first layer. This first layer can be either gently rubbed into the tooth of the paper to cover paper color or else left as rough broad strokes with paper color being used to enhance. Then layer strokes of fleshier color pastel using broken line overtop allowing the color underneath to glow through. I do not smudge or rub colors after the initial base layer as smudged pastels look muddy. Years ago I purchased a pastel portrait starter kit of about 20 colors, then later bought a large boxed set of soft Rembrant pastels as I eventually found the portrait kit limiting, though it was good to start out limited as quality pastels are pricey. As pastel layers build the tooth of the paper becomes filled and sometimes the work needs sprayed to add grit to hold more pastel. I never spray a finished pastel as from experience and testing I have found spraying a finished pastel does, though others may disagree, darken or alter colors. Also sprays are toxic and should be used outside. I leave mine outside about 4 hours to offgas the fumes.
One last note pastel dust does not break down so do NOT BLOW on pastels to remove excess from painting. Take your painting and gently shake the dust into the garbage. You don't want to breath in the dust as it will settle in your lungs and stay there. To wipe up pastel dust from below drawing board use a damp rag.
Hope this helps some, big hugs Teresa

Joanne said...

Thanks Jeanette for the advice, and the artist's name. I will definitely be checking out his work!

Joanne said...

Hi Teresa,
You are an amazing resource! THANK YOU for all this great information on pastel! I had no idea I should not be blowing the residual off my paper - that alone is such valuable information...and then there is all the rest! I appreciate you taking the time to let me know all of this more than you can know. (((hugs)))