Wednesday, August 27, 2014


In my second art class, instructor Joy Schultz presented us with the "invitation to a whole new perception of the world." She reiterated her comments from the previous week about truly seeing what is before us, not what our brain fills in for us.

Joy introduced us to pastels. She talked about the nature of 'soft' pastels, explaining that they are pure pigment and that they come in a range of hardness. The smaller the pastel is in diameter, the harder. 

Next, Joy talked about color, describing hue, value, temperature and intensity. She explained that cool colors recede and intense colors move forward. We were told that surrounding a color with a neutral color will make the first color 'pop'. 

We were given a container of pastels and a large piece of white drawing paper. We were encouraged to try making marks with different colors. I didn't particularly care for it. Working with pastels is very messy (don't get me wrong… I am not one of those neat sort of people - but I didn't care for the dust everywhere and my marks, lines and shapes didn't do a whole lot for me.

Once we had played around for a bit, Joy let us pick a picture of a pastel drawing from a selection she had taken from magazines. We also had a choice of colored pastel paper. I loved the bright orange paper and found an image that would work well with that background. This is my first pastel.

13" X 9" tinted pastel paper

I liked how the fall colors popped. I was pleased with the dimensionality of the mountains and the sense of puddles on the little dirt drive. My sky was a bit darker than the original, but it doesn't seem to detract from the picture. Several folks actually thought my rendition had more life in it than the original.

Although I didn't particularly care for working with pastels, I figured it couldn't hurt to try a few more. I had a 50% off coupon for a chain craft store so I marched myself down there and purchased a small box of soft pastels. I stopped at an art supply store (my new favorite place to browse) that usually has better prices than the chain stores and picked up a pad of colored pastel papers.

Since imitation is the best sort of flattery I went to the instructor's web site and selected a giclée print as a model for a pastel of my own. (Here's another new thing I learned; giclée prints are those printed on special inkjet printers. The term, giclée, was crafted from the French word, nozzle. It was coined to take away the negative connotation of creating art copies using a 'common' printer. Also of interesting note, giclée is also the slang term for male ejaculation - oh, no! Apparently the artist who coined the term (Jack Duganne) was not aware of the double entendre of his word choice!)

"Feeling Groovy" by Joy Schultz
18" X 24" giclée print of pastel painting

I have a friend with several black horses, and decided to make Joy's image my own by changing the color of the horses. Here is my almost finished pastel:

12" X 16" tinted pastel paper

Although I am pleased with the outcome, I see so many areas that aren't the way I'd like them to be. For example, the lines of the splashed water are not blended as well as I would like. I struggled with the sky as I made it too red, thinking going over it with white would soften it enough. It didn't. I now understand more about the 'tooth' of the paper, as in trying to lighten the sky the paper just wouldn't hold more of the pastel pigment. Perhaps if I had used a stiff brush I could have removed enough of the pastel to 'find' the texture again. 

Sticking with the black horse theme, I ventured on to create a pastel inspired by this photo my friend took when her horses were living at my house.

#22: Racing the Sun
12" X 12" colored card stock

What I like about pastel #22:
  • I was pleased with how I was able to bring more color into the picture and still give the impression of a foggy morning. 
  • I was also pleased with the 'lay of the land'. I think I created a feeling of hillsides. 
  • I enjoyed using the colored paper and letting some of that color come through. 

What I might do differently:
  • I should have added more color to the snow coming up from the horses hooves.
  • I was torn about whether to put a haze of grey pastel in the background and over the four trailing horses to give more of an impression of fog. 
  • It might be interesting to use much larger paper to allow for more detail with the horses. 

What I learned:
  • I bought some fixative, but discovered that it darkened the colors significantly. 
  • On each of the horse pastels I found things I wish I had changed after I thought I was finished and after I sealed the work. It might be better to give myself some time to study the end product and see what I might want to change, and be sure I really have finished.
  • I used clear polyurethane to fix the horses in the water. I went back to add some details. And resprayed. The details I added do not show up to any extent. I'll try it with the workable fixative that I purchased next time. 

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