Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Journey Into Pastels

I've begun exploring a medium that is new to me.. pastels.  So here is a summary of the beginning of my pastel journey.

The first, full-color pastel painting I attempted was for an online course I am following with Art Tutor.  Our week one task was to paint the final project.  Backwards, yes?  But with a grand purpose of seeing where our skill level is at the start of the course compared to the end (after we'd done all of the wonderful learning stuff in between).  It was quite fun actually, to just jump right in having no idea what I was doing,  a rather liberating artistic experience as I'm a bit of a control freak in my subject choices and how I go about it.

I'm glad that I started experimenting with watercolors first because that really helped me to understand colors and how they work together.  There is only so much color blending you can do with pastels and, just as with watercolors, too much blending will leave you with muddy, dull colors.  I was rather pleased that my first attempt turned out as well as it did, although I did make one big mistake.  I "misread" the original reference image (Rebecca de Mendonca's "Floating") and I incorrectly positioned the dancers front foot.  As you can see below, this threw off the flow of the entire painting.  So, right off the bat, I had to learn how to correct a mistake in pastels.

I was able to do so without too much trouble.  I did learn, after the fact, that having a mid-tone or neutral under-painting (preferably in a non-staining color) helps when it comes to correcting mistakes.  I wasn't able to achieve the color luminosity that was in Rebecca's original painting though.  I'm not sure why yet- if it's about under-painting or if I needed a darker background for contrast or what the trick may be- but I'm looking forward to progressing through the course and finding out.

I was so excited about how well this actually turned out considering I knew NOTHING about pastels (a little toot of my own horn there) that I couldn't wait to see what I could do once I actually learned something.  So I turned to the amazing instructors at Art Tutor and absorbed several of the videos available in the Pastels Foundation Course., by the way, is a UK based website and not only is there a TON of instructional art videos and learning courses, you get to learn from instructors with the most lovely and interesting accents!  The artist community there is very supportive and encouraging (they helped me to improve my dancer pastel painting).   Check it out.   You can try it for a whole month to see if you like it for a fraction of the cost of just one workshop.

Since watching some of the other pastel videos, I have done another pastel painting which will be the subject of my next post. 

Until then, I'll sign off by saying, Happy Birthday Michelangelo !!!