I’m happy to tell you that I’ve posted another pastel demo video on YouTube. Yay! This time, it’s about how to paint glass. Have a look and let me know what you think!
To begin, I did a small thumbnail sketch to sort out my three main values and to decide if the composition worked. I think it does.
I totally forgot to take a photo of the set-up in colour but I did take one in black and white. As I look at this photo, it seems much more extreme in the value range than what I saw when I painted it. Notably, the dark paper seems a lot darker than it was in life.
When you are painting glass (or anything!!), look look look!! And take the time to see. See the shapes created, try and divide the whole into three values, and take time.
Here are the pastels I used.
And here is the final pastel:
I’d love to hear from you. Don’t be shy, tell me what you think – good, bad, ugly! Do you have questions? Let me know in the comments.
Until next time,
Back in April of this year, Don Gardi posted a portrait on the Pastel of America Facebook site – “Girl in a Black Hat” by Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931). Not only was this a stunning pastel but it was by an artist I was only vaguely familiar with. I was so impressed with the portrait I thought I’d share a close look at it with you. Here’s the portrait:
Stunning isn’t it?! The combination of energetic marks and the delicate work in the face took my breath away. It has a very contemporary feel to it yet was done in 1890!
Boldini was born in Italy but after studying in various countries in Europe, he made his home in Paris. He is most known for his portraits of elegant and beautiful women, becoming the foremost portrait artist in Paris in the 1890s. In 1933, he was dubbed the “Master of Swish” in a Time magazine article.
Okay, back to the “Girl in a Black Hat.”
I couldn’t find any information about the painting other than the basic facts regarding medium and size. Who is this young woman? Was the pastel produced in preparation for a full scale painting? I’d sure love to know! In 1890, Boldini painted two portraits of John Singer Sargent who was living at the time in London. This would suggest that Boldini was in England when he produced the “Girl in the Black Hat” so perhaps the young woman is an ‘english rose.’
Well that’s it for now. I’d love to hear what you think about the portrait. Are there things you’d like to point out that I haven’t? I encourage you to do so!
Until next time,
PS. Fearful of the Nazis, a young woman fled her Parisian apartment, locking it up and apparently never returning. In 2010, the executors of a will discovered the existence of the apartment and had it opened. In it, they found many artworks and most importantly, an unknown painting by Boldini. To read more, click here and here. You will note some conflicting dates: the date Marthe de Florian fled Paris and the date the painting was created. I have taken the date of the painting as 1888 when Marthe de Florian was 24 years old. Apparently, she and Boldini were lovers (which might explain the rather sensuous quality of the painting!) And yes, Boldini would have been 46 years old.
Here’s the painting they found. It will certainly give you an idea of Boldini’s style – such lush and vigorous brushstrokes!
I am finally getting back to a normal-ish life and schedule after the madness of two shows (‘Emergence’ and ‘Caught Red Handed’) back to back. They went well and it was wonderful to work towards them and produce so much new and exciting work but things like regular blogging kinda took a back seat! But I am getting back into the swing of things.
Today I made a new pastel painting tip video about how I break pastels when I acquire a new box. I have been asked by students how and why I do it. This video will answer that question! My main message? Be not afraid!!
Of course if you have a box of half sticks, there’s no need to do any breaking (although you might like to do so anyway). I should also say that usually, I’ll sort the box into values first, then do the breaking, but for this video, I wanted to start with the brand new box.
I usually don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to technical things so I do what produces the fastest result. You can, for instance, score the pastel with your finger prior to making the break.
Doing it this way, you may get a cleaner break. But not always and not with every brand of pastel. It also takes longer and since I’m usually in a hurry and I’m never sure of the result, I generally just get in there and make the break the way I show you on the video.
So, experiment. The main thing is to gulp, and break those pastels!
I’d love to know what you thought of the video and my pastel painting tip. Please reply to this email or alternatively, you can always leave a comment under the video on YouTube.
My next video will be a new demo so look out for that in the next month or so. I haven’t quite decided what to do yet so if you have any brilliant thoughts about that, be sure to let me know!!
I always love hearing from you so drop me a line sometime
Until next time,
I’m back again after all the craziness of getting two shows up within two weeks of each other - Emergence in the middle of May, Caught Red Handed at the end. Wow! And coming up, an open studio (Fernwood Art Stroll) this weekend. After that, it will be life as normal, well, sort of!
A couple of people were curious about the process I followed in the Blurred Boundaries pastel used on the Emergence exhibition invitation so I thought that would be a great idea for a blog.
First, the invitation:
The pastel is titled “Inscribed” and it’s #5 in the Blurred Boundaries series. (To read my blogs on the first three in the series, click here for #1, here for #2, and here for #3.) Another time I’ll write a post of #4. For now, let’s get started.
Now you have the whole journey; well almost – you didn’t hear the gnashing of teeth or the cussing, or the wild music, or see me sitting staring at the pastel, waiting to figure out what to do next, or my energetic mark making, but I’m hoping you can feel the whole experience in the piece.
You know I’d love to hear from you!! Tell me what was most surprising about this whole process.
Until next time
I have been ultra busy preparing for my show opening this Friday and so my blog writing has slipped a wee bit. (Okay, that was an understatement!) Rather than let even more time pass by I thought I’d write a quick and dirty one. (If you want to know where that phrase came from like I did, click here.)
Have you seen the current International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) show?? This 24th Juried Exhibition can be seen at the Vose Galleries in Boston until 21st June. If you are in the neighbourhood, you can be sure it will be worth the visit!
I thought we could all have a look at the accepted entries and the winners and then ask you to choose your favourite and tell us why you made your choice. I’ll start. First, go and look at the IAPS exhibition by clicking here.
Okay, here’s my first choice.
I love this painting. Let me count the reasons why.
First off, it’s a wonderful portrait!
We see a boy concentrating as he makes his mark on….a transparent surface, glass perhaps. This surface is absolutely there and I am in awe at my belief. I know this painting is a two dimensional surface and yet I can’t help but believe I am looking up through glass at this young artist at work. Okay, so that’s two things.
Another thing I love is how my eyes track around the painting. I am pulled in by the boy’s eyes but instead of staying there (which can easily happen especially here with his intense concentration), I look where he is looking, i.e. his eyes direct me to my next stop – the red mark being created by his hand. From there I see green scribbles against the lighter reddish background. I follow them to the left where bright coloured marks contrast with the boy’s black shirt. These lead me up to his arm where I find a spiralled blue rose which lands me on the hair of his head and the faint halo created by light behind. And then I’m back at his eyes. An exciting journey through the piece.
The background feels as if its been thought out not just an accident or an after-thought (which is the way it appears in some work I’ve seen!). The balance between the light parts and the dark, and their placement in the whole seem perfect.
This young man, I have the feeling I really want to meet him. I want to know what he’s thinking about as he draws. I want to know what he wants to be when he grows up. I want to know him.
Now the thing that gets me the most is Christine’s daring and courage. Okay, so imagine. You’ve created this beautiful portrait but to capture what’s going on, you have to scribble all over it! Are you still imagining?? You have to choose different coloured pastels and make random marks all over your beautiful piece. Now that takes guts! And confidence. And sheer will and determination. So I figure, the title, Determined, could also refer to the Christine as much as her subject.
And just because, here’s a second choice.
Here we find a different kind of drama, one of nature. I feel it, I can see it, I can smell it, I can taste it. I love the even value of the whole piece with only a few specks of dark in the line of trees and a wee bit of light from that minuscule piece of light escaping from behind the clouds and reflected in the water below. This is almost an abstract painting!
Just for curiosity, I’ve included both paintings in a black and white version so you can see the difference between the two in terms of value. Christine’s painting runs the full gamut between dark and light while Carol’s is almost only one value. And they both work magnificently.
There are so many more beautiful paintings I want to comment on but I’m going to stick to these two. I would so love to hear about your favourite painting. (And it can be from any of the entries.) Just give the name of the artist and title and a sentence or two (or more!) why you like the piece. Come on, I’d LOVE to hear from you. You can always just reply to this email if it’s easier and I will post your answer.
I look forward to hearing from you!!
Have you ever had the experience of a painting that was done before you knew it? Well, this painting was finished before I had a clue. I couldn’t think of what more to do – should I add colour, should I add more detail, should I…what? It happened so quickly that I couldn’t believe it was actually finished. I put it away then I’d pull it out from time to time, have a look, couldn’t think of what else to do, then put it away again. This happened a number of times.
One day it was an ‘out’ day for the pastel. Artist friends Shirlee, Susan and Donna were visiting and when they saw the piece sitting there on the shelf, they expressed great appreciation for it. “Don’t touch it!!” Wow. Okay then.
So I took it in to my framer along with all the other pieces for my Gallery 8 show (opening 16 May). Elma happens to work for one of my other galleries, Peninsula Gallery, and she and the gallery owners LOVED it. Well it was then that I really believed it was done!! Funny how sometimes you need to hear the judgement of others before you can decide.
So without further ado, here’s the painting:
And now, a quick review of the process (I have very few photos as it went along so quickly!).
Do you always know when a painting is finished? Write and let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for sharing this time with me.
I’ll leave you with this great quote by Harley Brown. Feel free to Pin It!!
In one of my earliest blogs on this website, I wrote about my surprise at discovering that Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) worked in pastels from time to time. (Click here to read that post.) Since it’s the Easter weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to share three of Delacroix’s pastels of the crucifixion.
The first pastel is a vigorous sketch after Rubens’s painting, Christ on the Cross or Coup de Lance (Pierced with a Lance). Let’s look at Rubens’s painting and then Delacroix’s copy.
When I look at this sketch, I see Delacroix’s intention as capturing the positioning of figures as well as setting down colours. The greenish colour he uses for Christ’s body seems to me to suggest Delacroix used a colour at hand to show Rubens had used a lighter, greener colouring for Christ than he had used for the thieves.
Delacroix’s painting of the same subject in1846 (seven years later), shows the influence of Rubens’s work. Delacroix leaves out the thieves and many other figures, focusing on the figure of Christ, already pierced by the lance (not in view here). Interestingly the red standard in the background echo the lance and the cape of the rider in Rubens’s painting.
Now let’s look at the other two pastels.
The first was done in 1847, after the painting above was completed, suggesting that rather than being a study for the painting is was done afterwards. In his book, Delacroix’s Pastels, the writer Lee Johnson suggests that the pastel was made for an admirer of the painting (shown at the 1847 Salon). This person may have been Haro, the first owner of the piece, who was Delacroix’s supplier of art materials.
Much is the same between the drawing and the painting except that now there are no figures but the solitary Christ. There is certainly less drama, less of the light figure against the dark background but still there is an echo of the feeling in the pastel with a darkening of clouds over the distant hills where the sun rises. The warm paper gives a gentle warm underflow to the whole.
I have added three close-up so we can get a better look at the pastel application:
It appears that much of the pastel in the sky was blended/smudged (you can make out what looks like finger marks in the middle detail!). This was probably true of areas of the body over which hatched lines were applied.
Let’s have a look at the other pastel:
Now we have Christ facing the other direction (west, away from the rising sun) accompanied by a serpent, traditionally a symbol of evil leading to the original sin, the reason for which Christ died. The sunlight is seen rising from behind a craggier landscape than previously and there is less sky shown. Wind is suggested by the position of the material covering Christ’s lower torso. There is an incredible feeling of loneliness in the vastness of the desolate and unwelcoming landscape.
The whole thing looks more subtle and softer than the earlier pastel, with more experience behind it. It’s a smaller drawing and so less detail was possible. (It’s difficult to make out the hand on the right – is that due to the size of paper or perhaps an accidental smudge? The fingers look like they may have been outstretched originally.) Nevertheless, his knowledge and confidence with the figure and with the pastels is certainly clear!
Again, let’s look at some closeups:
Delacroix did paint another Christ on the Cross around this time and this drawing has been related to it. There really doesn’t seem to be that much similarity though. I certainly could make a list of all the dissimilarities!! What do you think?
I hope you enjoyed this review of a couple of Delacroix’s pastels. Another time, I’ll show you some of his studies of skies which are fabulous.
Until then, let me know what you learnt from this blog post
PS. Here’s the book I mentioned above, Delacroix’s Pastels by Lee Johnson, in case you want to add it to your collection
Whoo hoo!!! I have taken all my new pastels in to be framed for my solo show which opens 16th May 2014 at Gallery 8 on Salt Spring Island. Let me share a piece, an abstract pastel, that will be in the show.
I have been working on a series of pastels called ‘Vertical Landscapes’. As the title suggests, they are all vertical rather than the more expected and traditional horizontal format of a landscape painting. They range from fairly realistic through to more abstract (click here to see the fairly abstract pastel Landscape Tapestry and here to read about The Ginkgo Tree). The one I will show you here started off with nothing in mind, just colour! And interestingly, the colour choices for this piece came from the few Terry Ludwig pastels that I own.
I love the colours and feel of Terry’s pastels but knowing they would be difficult to obtain in my home town of Victoria, BC (not to mention that I have a whole heap of other pastels anyway!), I have held firm and not bought any at the bi-annual IAPS convention, well, mostly held firm. All of these pastels were gifts, and mostly from Terry himself, generous soul that he is. And so I am happy to have created this painting using only his pastels!!
Here’s a look at the sequence of my abstract pastel:
So where to go from here? The Landscape Tapestry abstract pastel has a high horizon so what about a low one? I rotated it and had a look.
For me this abstract pastel gives me the feeling of driving through the forest in the rain. What do you see? What do you feel? What’s your story about what’s going on? I’d love to hear!
Please share this blog if you think someone else would enjoy it.
Thanks for spending your time with me
PS. Off to Salt Spring Island tonight to see Gallery 8′s Symbolically 8 show. Of course I am curious about how my painting will be received. It’s not a pastel but if you are curious, you can read about it here.
Yay, I just released a new pastel demo on YouTube. A lot of people have asked me about how I see colour? Well this video tells you a little bit about just that.
Here’s the thumbnail I did before the pastel. You can see it’s divided up into three values. As long as you understand values, you really can go crazy with colour. Just make sure your colour corresponds to the value that you want to reproduce.
Here’s the set up of pears in life (well in a photograph of the pears in life – gets complicated!).
And here’s the same set up in black and white so you can see the values:
Here’s the initial drawing in charcoal on Wallis paper:
I didn’t show the full range of pastels in the video, just the outside of the box and later, the 11 pastels used. So here’s the whole collection of pastels:
I don’t usually use Holbein pastels for a whole piece but I’m rather pleased with the way this one turned out! And here it is:
It’s amazing, as children we use colour intuitively and we are completely happy with the results. As we get older and ‘wiser’ we may be influenced by those who surround us (parents, teachers, friends) who with good intentions, direct us to a different choice of colours, one that more ‘realistically’ matches the outside world. They are safe colours, predictable and bearing a recognizable resemblance to the subject being painted. But there comes a time when we want more, we want to give expression to some inner calling of colour. We are bored and we want to break out of the rut we are in. And this is where learning to see colour comes in.
With practice, you can see colour. I find that some days I can ‘see’ colour better than others so beware of days like that and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Keep an eye out for that unexpected colour that just punches out at you when you least expect it. You know, when you turn to look at something and before your brain kicks in to recognize what you’ve just seen, you see that pure violet patch on the street. (When your mind figures it out, you’ll find the colour simmers down into a grey sort of asphalt colour.)
Rather than think of the rules and colour theory as you paint, just look. Sit and look until some colour emerges and put it down on the paper. It’s exciting stuff!!!
Let me know how you make out seeing colour in your next piece okay? I do want to hear from you! Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post – I attached them all to the blog. You can see them, and my responses, by clicking here to go to the post.
Until next time,
PS. Speaking of seeing colour, do you know Harry Chapin’s song “Flowers Are Red”? It’s such a sad one….and it’s all about seeing colour!!! Click on the image to hear it.
In February, I had the pleasure of being in La Manzanilla, Mexico for a week of tango workshops (yay!) followed by a week of relaxing and painting (more yay!). The paintings were done mostly en plein air and over the next few weeks, I’ll share two or three of those pieces.
The one I’m going to show you this time was an experiment. As many of you know, I generally paint with a limited palette. I decided to try using my very small set of Schminke pastels – only 11 colours to choose from so, in this case, the choice of pastels was severely limited. Eek!
I can’t decide whether the pastel is finished and if it isn’t, should I just keep working on it with the Schminke limited selection or should I bring in some other colours. At the end of this post, I’d like you to help me out with your thoughts.
So let’s take a look. (These photos were taken on site with my iPhone so, sorry, they aren’t the greatest.)
Once home in Canada, I am wondering if a cropped version of the plein air piece will work better. What do you think?
So that’s it. It was a delightful day to be out painting. I sat under a coconut tree and listened to the waves and the chatter of birds and people as they passed by. Nothing beats being outside, en plein air, working on a piece of art. When you look at your work weeks later, you re-live the scene and everything that you experienced. Wonderful.
Okay, time to get your feedback. Is it finished and if not, what suggestions? I also need a title….
I do look forward hearing from you!!
Until next time,
PS. Here’s the scene I painted