I met Ellen Eagle at the 2013 International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) Convention where I bought her marvellous book, Pastel Painting Atelier (see link at the bottom of this post to purchase). I asked her to sign it and then had the gumption to ask her to do a short video interview with me. Happily, she agreed! (You can watch it here.)
I also included one of Ellen’s pastels (a nude) in my December collection of pastels seen from around the world that month.
I knew that I wanted to ask Ellen if she would consider contributing a guest blog but on what?
As I was flipping through her book, it came to me that Ellen’s works are like contemplations both for the artist and for the viewer (and perhaps even for the model). Somehow, they achieve a timeless feeling. They appear as part of the long line of tradition in portraiture. Even so, they are distinctly contemporary. So I asked Ellen if she would consider writing about her portraits as contemplations. And as you can see, she agreed!!
Let me give you a taste of her work before we go on.
A bit about Ellen…
Ellen Eagle – A Short Bio
Ellen received a BFA with Distinction in Drawing from the then California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. She studied with Daniel Greene and with Harvey Dinnerstein at The Art Students League of New York. Her pastel portraits have been exhibited widely in venues such as the National Academy Museum, Butler Institute of American Art, Frye Art Museum, Long Beach Museum of Art, and the Baker Museum. In 2011-12, she exhibited 20 portraits in a traveling two-person show at the Dongguan Museum of Fine Art, China. Ellen teaches at The Art Students League and gives workshops throughout the United States and in Assisi, Italy. Her writings and paintings have been published in many magazines and books, and her own book, Pastel Painting Atelier, was published in 2013. Her work has received many awards and grants. She is represented by the Forum Gallery. You can find out more and see more of Ellen’s work at her website.
Ellen, it’s all yours!
Gail, thank you so much for the honor of appearing on your blog, which I so respect and enjoy.
I do feel that I work in a deeply contemplative manner when I paint someone. In my studio, I luxuriate in the natural light’s embrace of my subject’s form, and its revelation of color. It’s almost as though I enter a trance-like state: I am under the influence of the flesh, bone, heart, and light of my subject. That influence, that love, shepherds my investigation, my contemplation. It’s interesting that the trance-like state provides the requisite for my at-full-attention search into my subject’s characteristics. My strokes go on quickly, but I am never rushing. I look and look and look. I never tire of the looking: I want to see; I want to understand. I usually work for 10 to 15 sessions of about 3 to 4 hours each, sometimes more. My self-portraits take much longer.
You very kindly described my work as having a timeless quality. If that is so, and I hope it is, perhaps that quality correlates to the balance of trance and sustained investigation. Working in natural light means that there are constant changes to the colors, edges, and values that I am studying. I have to resolve all those changes, and the changes in the feelings projected by my model, into one impression. I never hesitate to make as many changes in my portrait as are necessary to come to as meaningful an understanding of my subject as I possibly can at this time. I paint portraits to understand, and there is no understanding without contemplation.
I love having my studio in the converted third floor attic of my home. The attic had been a dark, cavernous space with just one window, so a bank of northeast facing windows was installed at the time of the conversion. For the first fifteen or so years, the light in my studio had been diffuse, resulting in very subtle value shifts in my subject from light into dark. I happen to love high key paintings, but it’s great to experiment and try various light situations.
Recently I installed a system of up/down shades, so I will now be able to create a more concentrated light and more overt value shifts if my response to my subject so requires. The studio being on the top floor of the house, the ceiling angles conform to the steep roof angles, giving the studio a cozy and prayerful cathedral-like atmosphere.
I don’t have much storage space, so I mostly store my various brands of pastels on a model stand (I have a spare one) at the periphery of the room. The pastels in use in any given painting are laid out on old typewriter tables on wheels. Papers and boards (I prepare my own gesso-pumice supports) are stored in a very small corner closet. I have a large mirror on wheels, which I use for self-portraits. My bookshelves are in the hallway, just outside the studio, to protect them from pastel dust, but individual books are always rotating back and forth from hallway to studio. I try my best to keep the studio calm and organized. For the most part, I am fairly successful at doing so.
When I am going to be painting someone for the first time, I always begin the process with at least one day of sketching different gestural and compositional possibilities. Sometimes it takes several sessions to choose the painting design, because either I have not yet found “the” gesture, or I have found too many. I love this part of the portrait process. It is here that I begin to explore and internalize the model’s proportions and natural postural and facial expressions. The sketches are thumbnail, and the forms are very abstracted to convey the overall composition.
When I am ready to lay out the composition on my support, I do so lightly, in charcoal, and usually using just line. No need to spend time adding the tone in charcoal because I already worked them out in my thumbnail. Once I begin my color, the adventure takes on a new urgency, as I never have been able to foresee how a painting will develop. I place warms where I see warms, cools where I see cools. I do not strive for perfectly correct colors from the start, because of that shifting light quality. Rather, I assign each area a temperature. The temperature relationships will remain constant: the area over here that is warmER than that area over there that is coolER, will always be warmer. The nuances of those temperatures and colors will evolve during the development of the painting. The longer I study my subject, the more complex the considerations. We look into our subjects, ever more deeply.
There is always some element of intimidation when I begin a portrait, but the bliss wins out, and I never fail to want to return to my easel to engage in the revelatory contemplation again and again.
Thanks so much Ellen! You express your feelings about the whole process so eloquently.
If you are interested in contacting Ellen, you can write to her at: email@example.com
Ellen has some workshops coming up:
– Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia, Pa; 6-10 June 2016, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Aria Workshops, Istria, Croatia; 18 June – 2 July 2016 http://workshops.pastelnews.com/registration-form/
– Dates TBA – Chicago area; and Art Students League of New York.
Please leave a comment letting us know what resonated most with you. I’d LOVE to hear from you!
Until next time,
PS. Here are links to Ellen’s book which I highly recommend. (Canadian readers, please use the second link.) If you purchase through these links, I may earn a wee commission – yay!
I’m once again excited to share with you the 10 pastels that I’ve selected from the 87 (yes!) that I collected over the month of October. More and more artists are showing their work on various groups so the choice has multiplied over the last little while. As always, a difficult selection to make and as always, my own personal choices. Along with the many pieces I saw by new-to-me artists, there were many pieces I loved from artists I’d already featured but in the name of sharing more with you, this time round at least, I removed the second group from the selection process.
So let’s get going!
As I scrolled and came across these eyes looking out at me, my breath caught in my throat. This capturing of what looks like a glancing moment certainly shows off Abel Marquez’s drawing skill. Beautifully drawn, it’s also beautifully painted in pastel on velour paper. You can see the softness of the paper in the hair and background but I never would have guessed the type of surface from looking only at the face. I love the combination of gesture and detail, of softness and hard edge. I’m taken by the extreme turn of the eyes, the parting of the lips, the highlights on tooth and eyes, nose and lip. Marquez wrote this about the painting: “This is a very fast portrait that I did …..I was showing my students differences between sennelier paper and velour paper.” Go see more of Marquez’s work here.
This pastel is a lot smaller than the one above but the energy of the strokes comes through loud and clear and makes it seem much larger. I love the way the gestural marks contrast with the contemplative pose. I like to think that the bright colours used give a sense of the personality of this man. An Dong’s effective use of the black outline reminds me of the work of Georges Rouault. I was unable to find a website for An Dong but you can see more of his work on his facebook profile.
When I saw this beautiful pastel, I wanted to get up closer, closer, to see all the nuances of colours, of marks, to see the eyes, nose and mouth more clearly, to examine the workings of the hat. I also wanted to get to know this young woman who gazes out at us, quietly confident, yet who keeps part of her whole self hidden. This pastel gives you the sense of much detail and yet there is no fine rendering to be seen. Explore the surface and discover many contrasts: warmth and smoothness of flesh contrasted with the blue textures of the hat; subtle and careful noticing of one shoulder contrasted with the loose strokes of the hair against the other shoulder; eyes hidden versus exposed sensual mouth. See more of Akhriev’s work on his website.
Ah don’t you just love the expression on Ben’s face? The detailing of the dog’s head is wonderful but as we all know, detailing alone does not a successful painting make. My eyes travel diagonally up from the inquisitive eyes to the right ear from where I go spiralling down to the collar and identification. From there I move to the dog’s muzzle where I can delight in the soft flews (yes, a new word for me!), the wiry whiskers, and the cold wet nose. And then we slip back to those warm eyes. Arranging Ben’s head cocked to the left rather than straight on was an effective decision – so much more character is expressed through the dog’s pose. You can see Steve Morris’s work here.
Dead fish may not be everyone’s choice for a painting subject but Michèle Auge-Faure has successfully created a painting full of movement and colour with just such a subject. Looked at from a distance, the piece moves towards abstraction – you can see the strong swirling design that underlines the more literal representation. Although now long expired, the smaller fish on the left seem to still be swimming, circling the larger fish, blue surrounding reds. The darker shapes at the top corners emphasis this circular movement. For me, this painting is a fine example of the axiom: Beauty is everywhere, one just has to open ones eyes and heart to see it. At this point I don’t have a place to send you to see more of Auge-Faure’s work but I am hoping that will change.
Speaking of seeing beauty everywhere, look at this pastel of rubbery, slippery kelp floating in a turquoise sea. All senses are alerted here: sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. I can feel the kelp against my skin as it swirls around me, and I can hear the water as it gurgles in and out of the kelp. I am in awe of the way Julie Freeman, in this superrealistic painting, captures the depth of water as seen by the more hidden parts of the kelp. Although capturing a single moment, the painting moves as the kelp sways with the back and forth of the water. Such a glorious celebration of marine life. You can see more of Freeman’s work here. (You will see a painting of a sheep’s head there that was actually on my short list last month!)
I’ve been an admirer of Aaron Schuerr’s work since I encountered and interviewed him at the June 2015 IAPS Convention. (You can see the interview I filmed by clicking here.) Schuerr’s plein air paintings are vibrant and value-rich capturings of nature and that’s certainly the case in this painting. Here he paints a rhythmic grouping of trees rising upward to the sky. Below is the chaos of grass and bush, above the canopy of leaves. The confident and energetic marks reveal Scheurr’s maturity as an artist. He portrays what he looks at with a directness that captures the essence of time and place: you can tell that this painting is all about autumn. Check out Scheurr’s website for more of his work.
This small pastel is an enchanting representation of the end of the day: the land and clouds in greys that are silhouetted against the glowing sky that’s coloured by the last rays of the sun. The softness of the natural forms of trees and clouds are contrasted with the straight lines of the manmade structures of the highway and signs. Movement is suggested by the radiating perspective of the road and the diagonal direction of the clouds. A deceptively simple subject skillfully rendered in such a way that captured my attention time and time again. See more of Butler’s work here.
We shift from the movement in the painting above to the stillness we find here in this pastel by Saeed Panahzadeh. It’s a quiet winter night. A light illuminates the snow and the building’s facade. Another light warms the interior. The hushed setting hardly feels peaceful though. There’s something ominous, something foreboding, that brings a tension to the scene. It reminds me of something out of a Dr Who episode (all you Dr Who-ers know what I mean – everything looks perfectly normal but look out!). The tightly closed, slightly dilapidated doors appear to have a ‘stay out’ or ‘enter at your own risk’ quality. Is this a home of safety and love or does it harbour hidden domestic violence or bizarre and unlikely activities? See more of Saeed Panahzadeh’s work on his facebook page.
I just love the colours of this piece – the warm blush of the fruit against the prussian blue of the sky and wall. I think what really attracts me to this piece (as with the one above), is the mysterious feeling that surfaces the longer I Iook at it. The painting reminds me of the 17th century Dutch paintings that are often referred to as Vanitas paintings. These still life paintings conveyed the transient nature of life and mortality and also the meaningless of worldy pleasures. Some of the items used in a still life to represent these ideas were objects that would rot, items that were ephemeral (bubbles, smoke), articles that showed the passing of time (hourglasses) or were clearly representative of death (skull). Here I see hints of rot in the fruit (almost as if insects were beginning to devour the apples) while the clouds symbolize the ever-changing and fleeting quality of life. See more of Sabina Zhou’s work here.
Sooooooo there you have October’s striking pastels. Tell me what you think of them by leaving a comment here on the blog. I sure appreciate your participation
Until next time,
Today, the 25th of October, is International Artists Day and in recognition of the day and to honour its mandate (“To celebrate the contribution all artists make to society by promoting and raising their credibility and visibility locally and around the world”), I invited Nigerian pastellist Damilola Opedun to join me as a guest on the HowToPastel blog.
Opedun’s work first came to my attention when he began posting on the Pastel Society of America’s group page on Facebook. One of his pieces was included in my monthly round-up of pastels in May. I have been so impressed by his drawing skills, his use of colour, his great compositions, his handling of the medium, his understanding of values. And then, one day a short while ago, Opedun posted this statement on Facebook:
A couple of blogs ago, I gave you the step-by-step progression of the pastel I did in Budapest. The painting wasn’t completed and I promised to share the finishing process with you. Well I finally got back to it on Sunday…then again on Monday. Hmmmmm. Every time I worked on it, I thought, Ah yes, much better. Then I’d come back to the studio and my first reaction was, What was I thinking?! And I’d work on it again. This happened a few times. Then finally I decided, Yes, it’s finished! But then I returned and yet again decided, Nope, not done. It was then that I realized that what I needed to do was crop the picture! Why hadn’t I seen that before? The weird thing is, I think I knew all along, right from the start, that I should have made the figures larger or at least moved them up a bit.
Let’s have a look.
So, here’s where you come in!! I have two crop options below. Please leave a comment saying whether you prefer A or B. Let’s hear your vote! And if you have any other thoughts you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them.
While working on this pastel, I recorded my thoughts about what I could see and what I thought I needed to do. Click here to listen. Was this of any value? I’d love to know.
So, before you leave, tell me: Option A or B?
And did you enjoy the recording?
Until next time,
PS. I had originally thought of adding a third option (Option C) but didn’t want to complicate things. But having read Rita’s comment below, I’ve decided to add it after the fact.
I can hardly believe we are well into October already. September’s Super Pastels are a wee bit late coming to you but you’ll know I’ve been busy launching my first online course Pastel Painting En Plein Air – super exciting!! Anyway, onto September’s Super Pastels!
Yup, it was another fabulous selection of over 50 pastels collected over the month of September. As always, I chose ten and as always, it’s a very subjective and personal choice of pastels that struck me in some way. I hope you enjoy them!
Everytime I look at this pastel, I’m mesmerized by the depth and complexity of content. My eye wanders about taking in the trees, the water, the ground, the reflections, the colours, the textures, the details. There’s a feeling of stillness yet I can imagine the life that goes on below the surface, in the places we cannot see. We just have to stay still long enough to discover it. I like that wee bit of what looks like manicured lawn top right. The painting seems a statement about the grandness and glory of nature compared to man’s puny attempts at controlling it. Check out Barbara Southgate’s website here.
Here’s a subject that many of us, if we even saw the beauty in the subject, might contemplate doing but wouldn’t because it was just too darn complicated! What a mix of water and plantlife swirling about in it, partly submerged, partly above water. It reminds me of when I threw an aging bouquet into the sea which took it swirling away in its own sweet time. I love that I can feel the movement of the water. I admire the rendering of water, flowers and leaves in a complex and intricate weaving. I love that Poirson has created mystery in what appears an ordinary subject – where is this place? what exactly is happening? See more of her work here.
I was taken by the deceptive simplicity of this pastel. It’s a difficult subject – mainly just ‘bush’ – which Topór-Karpinska has managed to capture so well. What really impresses me is the way you see the front shrubs with their bare branches and drying leaves and then can see beyond them to the plants in the field. And further on, signs of human existence in the road and a few rooftops. Again another pastel of a seemingly ordinary scene made into something for us to examine with wonder. There’s something about this piece that reminds me of some of the landscapes by Van Gogh, particularly his drawings. Check out Topór-Karpinska’s work here.
From a high horizon line in the previous work to a low one here, from a daytime scene to one at twilight, Davidson offers us the glory of a full moonrise in a swirl of sky. I love the contrast between the large shapes, colours, and mid-values of the sky contrasted with the wee details, dark values, and colour accents of the landscape. This certainly is an evocative piece, full of mood and portent, and the emotional celebration of the beauty of nature. Have a look at more of Eve Miller Davidson’s work here.
We go from the emotional resonance of the previous pastel to the quiet stillness of this still life. There was something about this pastel that drew me back again and again. Once again we have a commonplace subject – a glass of water and a plate of mandarin oranges on a sideboard – in the tradition of realism, this time though, raised up into something more, something almost iconic. It’s as if time is standing still when we look at this piece rather than looking at a painting merely capturing a moment in time. I love all the subtle highlights throughout – the various lights on the glass, the barely discernable reflection on the wood, the light catching the edge of the sideboard on the right, the sparkling highlights on the fruit. Have a look at Serny’s website here.
A sensitive and unwavering self examination, this portrait had me looking into the eyes and wondering about this woman and who she is. You can tell she’s not young – the grey hair and somewhat puffy and sagging skin – and with a life of experiences behind her and yet there is something youthful about her that comes through, a childlike wonder perhaps and an ease with the world. I like the way Donatelli has used the same colours throughout – the grey colour of the hair is also used to convey the cool areas of skin and the garment for instance. The head is slightly cocked as if asking a question of herself or of us. What is that question? Check out Donatelli’s work here.
Pretty extraordinary rendering of a child’s face isn’t it! Look at the water droplets, the transparency of wet cloth, the flesh inside of the mouth, the damp hair, the intensity in the eyes, the pudginess of a child’s hands. All quite astounding. Now I want you to read the size of this piece and imagine how big this is! (To get a real sense of the scale of this pastel, scroll to the end – you may be shocked!). To see more of Yüce’s proficiency with this medium and to see more detailed progress photos of this piece, click here.
Pollak is known to me as a landscape painter so when she started posting abstracts, I was pleasantly startled. When this one came along, it caught my attention completely. I keep wondering what I was looking at. (Yes, it’s abstract but there feels like many narratives within.) It made me think of a crack in the universe, or a view from the air of a city below as seen through broken pieces of glass, or a close-up of an explosion, or an ethereal and magical place. I love the use of two main colours punctuated by colour accents. There’s such movement and dynamism in this piece. Looking forward to seeing more abstracts! See more of Pollak’s work here.
I laughed when I saw this pastel by Dimus. I love the colour, the energy, the movement, the sense of drawing and painting all at once, the distortions, the design. We are left waiting for this young woman to take her breathe as she emerges from the water. But she’ll always be caught in that split second before breaking the surface into air. This makes me hold my own breathe, waiting for the moment to happen! Check out more of Dimus’s work here.
Speaking of laughing, how can you not when you see this colourful, crisp piece?? It’s so very different from the way we generally see pastel used. I liked many of the pieces I saw by Zahares but I chose this one because I love the extreme perspective that runs the gamut from looking down at the sea bottom to looking up through the water’s surface at the lobster fisherman. There are so many little things that I love about this piece – the way the lines on the ocean floor are repeated in the lines of the boat and of the lobster trap, the transition area between water and air, the way the buoy leaps out at us, breaking the boundaries of the painting, the use of blues/greens and reds/yellows. Zahares’s work is unmistakable and you can see more here.
It’s been a year since I started doing these monthly curations (you can see last September’s choices here) and incredibly, I haven’t yet repeated the work of any one artist – there have been enough new and wonderful pieces to choose from. I now feel released though from that self-imposed restriction to repeat. Let’s see what happens!
Choosing work for a show is a daunting task (I just had the pleasure of jurying a local chapter’s show). I choose these pieces for these monthly blog posts but they are chosen from ones I myself have selected through the month rather than ones submitted to me, so it’s easier (and I don’t have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings!) Artist Vianna Svabo recently wrote about the whole process of jurying. Click here to read all three of these illuminating articles.
As always, I love hearing your thoughts. What do you think of September’s Super Pastels. Did any stand out for you? Let me know!
Until next time,
PS. As promised, a close-up of Mustafa Yüce’s piece above with the hand of the artist included to give you a sense of its size.
We leave Budapest in a few hours. It’s been an amazing stay of almost three weeks – the city is more than I hoped or expected. But I did learn a lesson and that is, you can’t do everything!
I had planned on finishing up my online project as well as seeing the city. I had also planned, along with the daily sketches (Project 365) that I post on my Facebook Page, to do some plein air pastelling. I brought four sheets of mounted Wallis to work on plus a couple of sheets of mounted UArt paper.
Well, I am disappointed to say I only did one pastel. And that was done yesterday, in the apartment, from a photo. And the reason that one got painted? This blog! I wanted this post to be about work I had done here in Budapest so I was highly motivated!
This Budapest pastel isn’t complete and later, I’ll talk about what I want to work on. Let’s take a look.
So, there you have it – my one and only in-Budapest pastel! I’ll work on it at home and then either update this post or create another. I have to say, I think, in the end, it’s gonna be a good one!
Now I am off to pack – the taxi picks us up in six hours for our 6:30am (ugh) flight.
Always, you know I love to hear from you. Let me know what you think about this pastel or anything else going on here on the blog.
For some time now, I have admired the work of Daggi Wallace. I featured one of her paintings in my October pastel choices. Here’s another example of her stunning work:
I knew Daggi did a lot of commissions and thought info on doing commissioned work would be a great topic for a blog. Happily, when I asked Daggi to write a guest blog, she agreed. And as you’ll find, she has a lot of valuable information for you!
Here I am, a week into September, and because I’m travelling (now in Budapest), I’m only now getting to August’s awesome pastels.
As always, sigh, a difficult decision. I had 57 pastel paintings to choose from, ones that I’d collected over the month of August, and after much humming and hawing, whittled the choices down to the self-imposed ten. As always, they’re very personal choices showing a range of technical experience. I just select what jumps out at me as I wander through the internet.
I love the vastness of landscape here and that moment when the sun pops out from behind the clouds and lights up the scene, spreading a warmth unseen in the cooler cloud-covered areas. We all know that experience – it lifts the soul and fills us with the wonder of nature. Our eyes circle from the sunlit distance to the trees on the right then to the foreground of snow and grasses and then on to the shadowed hills on the left. I love the full range of colours used from yellow and purples to greens and blues. See more of Kahne’s work here.
Don’t be fooled. This gem of a landscape is only 5 x 7 in! Bonnie uses the texture and the warmth of the paper to pull all these various greens together. The simplicity of this piece just goes to show that often there’s no need to be fussy and detailed to make a statement about the landscape, to capture an impression of a view. Half close your eyes and you see a field of colours and beyond that, trees with deep shadows below, and then more fields in the distance, all with a cool sky overhead. Check here for more of Bonnie’s work.
Here’s another tiny awesome pastel! You can’t help but think of J.M.W.Turner’s work when you look at this pastel, paintings like The Slave Ship or The Fighting Temeraire. But those are huge and this is small. This moody little piece, with full value range, contrasts warm and cool, with the light of the sun contrasting with the cool of the clouds. And what do we see (ships? buildings in the far distance?) and where are we? Venice perhaps? A story lies waiting here with only a hint indicated. I love the way the blue pastel dragged over the texture of the paper gives us the sense of the clouds. Check out more of Rob’s work here.
Speaking of moody, this dramatic painting by Andrzej Siewierski of roiling clouds and rolling waves certainly fits the bill. It’s called ‘Wind’ and you can feel the wind blowing wildly as well as feel the dampness of the water in the air. I like the way Andrzej has kept the colour choices limited – blues, blacks, whites, small hints of purple, and a wee bit of ochre warmth in the foreground. I also like the simplicity of the composition divided as it is between sky and water. The line of the cloud at the top swirls us around and down to the water on the right while the diagonal of the beach moves our eye back to the left side of the painting. There’s something about this piece that reminds me of the work of Lawren Harris. I couldn’t find a website for Andrzej but here’s a good article on him and his work.
Continuing the moody theme, check out this painting by Jana Volkmer. I love the way she has repeated the blue colour in areas throughout the painting – eyes, hair, earrings, cloth-covered chair. This is a cool painting enhanced by the warmth of the voluptuous lips and other parts of the face. It’s not detailed and yet there is so much we can read into this painting. This woman looks as if she is about to speak, to give us her thoughts on something.There’s a tenseness in her shoulders. The surrounding colour seems to reinforce the feeling of unease. See more of Jana’s work on her website.
I recently discovered the work of Nathalie Picoulet. Her drawing skills are immediately evident as she renders the human figure so accurately and so sensitively. The way Nathalie vignettes her painting is unusual and distinctive as is her subdued colour palette. I like the way Nathalie hones in on what’s important – here it’s the girl’s face resting on her hands and also a part of the gown of orchid-printed material that inspired the title. Nothing else is required. We see this young woman and wonder what occupies her thoughts.
From the quiet of the last painting we move to one of warm colours and bold strokes. This is a direct and spontaneous capturing of the model yet done with a careful accuracy where it’s needed, particularly the face. I like the way Vishni has set off the pure and saturated colour on the model with a greyed yet still colourful background. Notice how the grey is repeated in the left and cooler side of the model’s face. Vishni leaves the white of the paper almost pure and repeats the white in the necklace and the eyes. Somehow the glaring white doesn’t overwhelm the painting as we keep coming back to the beautifully rendered face of the model. Lovely! Vishni doesn’t have a website but you can see more of her work here.
Moving from the warmth and vitality of the pastel above, we come next to Suzanne Godbout’s quiet contemplation of a pitcher with a bowl of blueberries floating in cream. There’s an elegance here that with detail and looseness, captures the solidity and sheen of ceramic, the lustre of metal, and the soft lushness of fruit. The painting has an old-fashioned sweetness that appeals to me – a reminder of the simplicity of childhood, a memory of being in my grandmother’s kitchen, a suggestion of abundance, a recollection of how good a bowl of fresh berries and cream taste. Yum! I love the way one of the blueberries has split open – you see the stain it’s produced on the cloth and the green colour inside. I could pick these blueberries up and eat them right off the paper! I couldn’t find a website for Suzanne but you can read a bit about her here.
I was stopped in my tracks when I came across this unnerving, apocalyptic pastel with its heavy texture and its simple statement and uncluttered design. I was fascinated by the dichotomy of feeling I derived from the subject and from the style – one bringing a sense of doom and gloom, the other a delight in the colours and texture and light. There’s a story to be interpreted here. The low light source – the sun? – could reveal a metaphorical change – if it’s a setting sun then one of oncoming catastrophy, if rising, well then there’s hope after cataclysmic disaster. Are we to be disheartened by a chilling story or inspired by a hopeful one? Check here to see more of Tomonaga’s work.
And finally, after the darkness and possible foreboding of the previous painting, I thought it would be desirable to end this blog of awesome pastels on a bright example. This one by Tim Fisher fits the bill with its cloudless turquoise sky, radiant white buildings, colourful summer grasses and flowers of greens, blues, and red. It’s so expressive of place. With it’s clean saturated colour, one can’t help but feel uplifted and joyous when looking at this pastel painting. I also like the abstract nature of its composition. See more of Tim’s work here.
And there we have it – another month of awesome pastels. I’d love to hear from you. Did any of these strike you to the core?
Until next time (when I have a nice surprise for you!),
Saturday past I was set up at Peninsula Gallery, in Sidney, BC for an ‘art encounter.’ From 1-4pm I worked on a still life set up in front of me. It was fun and although it wasn’t busy (the good part of that was that I got to get some work done!), I had some ardent admirers. There was one woman who sat and watched me almost through the whole process. Now that was commitment!
Basically I worked the entire three hours and at the end, I came out with a painting of a still life that I’m pleased with. Peninsula Gallery’s manager Vivian liked it so much, she kept it for exhibiting in the gallery. Yay!!
Luckily I remembered to take a few photos as I worked. Have a look…
A limited palette really challenges you to work with values and broaden your colour range. It can get frustrating at times for sure but it’s also a great way to push yourself out of any comfort zone you might be in! Try it and let me know what happens.
Well that’s it for me until next time. I’d looooove to hear from you!
Well after last week’s hair-pulling experience, I am DELIGHTED to present my newest Pastel Painting Tip video: How To Store Pastel Paintings.
How To Store Pastel Paintings
A couple of things I didn’t mention in the video:
– Glassine and acid-free tissue are generally available at art stores.
– Another reason I don’t use acid-free tissue anymore is that it tears much more easily than the glassine. For instance, when I’m removing the tape to unwrap it, the paper will tear. Not so with the glassine.
– Never use cardboard as a mounting board. You may think you’re going to store a painting temporarily but it’s surprising how often ‘temporary’ turns into long-term. The acid in the cardboard will eventually affect the pastel paper you worked on. This is especially a concern with thinner paper such as Canson Mi-Tientes. Use an acid-free board only.
– I mentioned briefly about the glassine and acid-free tissue being anti-static. This is very important. Do not be tempted to put your pastel in any sort of plastic or cellophane bags. If you do, you’ll find bits of pastel all over the bag next time you look. Also, removing the pastel from the bag without smearing it can be quite a feat! If you feel the need to put your pastel in a bag, make sure you first wrap it in glassine or acid-free tissue.
– You can store your stacks of work on a shelf (see picture below) or in drawers. If you need to access a piece, best is to remove the stack from the shelf or drawer and then look through the stack. It’s much easier to do this than trying to do it while the stack is on the shelf or in the drawer.
I think that’s everything about how to store pastel paintings. As I think of other things, I’ll add them to the blog. I also hope you’ll join the conversation by leaving a comment below.
Some Cool Things About My YouTube Channel!
I’m pretty excited that my YouTube Channel subscribers now total 952!! Whoo hoo!! Closing in on 1000 subscribers – that will be a celebration day! You can help make that happen by sharing the video and/or this blog post.
Also, one of my videos now has over 10,000 views!! (YouTube sent me a notification about this so obviously it’s a milestone, even in ‘its’ eyes!) Click here to see that video.
Demo At Peninsula Gallery Next Saturday
One more thing….I’ll be demoing in pastel at Peninsula Gallery in Sidney, BC next Saturday 22nd August from 1-4pm. I love that it’s called an Art Encounter. I’m looking forward to that!!
Hey that’s it for this time. Such a relief to actually get that video up. Last week, I didn’t have a hope it was going to happen. Funny how things turn out
As always, it’s a great pleasure to hear from you. I know your time is precious so believe me when I say how much I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment.
Until next time,