Sometimes finishing a pastel is the hardest part! When is a painting done? That’s a big, tough-to-answer question! Sometimes you just know, other times you aren’t so sure.
When I was working on the pastel “The Ginkgo Tree,” I came to a place where I thought the piece was nearing completion.
I sat with it for awhile knowing it wasn’t quite finished but wondering what I needed to do next. And then, one day as I was looking out my studio window at the ginkgo tree that had inspired this piece, the wind gusted and a shower of gold leapt from the tree. I realized this was the finishing touch I needed! So I added in those leaves. I also made a few other changes which I have marked below. Before you scroll all the way down, look at the finished piece just below and see if you can spot all the changes. Did you get them all? Did you find ones I left out?
Here are the changes:
1a&b. I thought the roof edges were too harsh against the sky so I softened them slightly. In 1a, I added more blue to the sky (I felt it needed some gradation) and then I ‘brushed’ some of that blue colour into the roof. In 1b, I ‘brushed’ the roof colour into the sky.
2. I added more broken blue areas into the lower left side – I felt it needed more interest.
3. I introduced the same blue used in #2 on the lower right side too.
4. I decided I wanted to show the edge of the roofline so I added more sky to delineate that edge.
5. I felt the foliage was too thick so I further broke up the foliage by adding background colour in among the leaves.
6. I worked more on the trunk trying to give the feeling of bark.
That’s it I think.
So when you’re pondering your pastel, trying to decided whether or not is is finished, I suggest you stay open to the possibilities that may arise. You never know what can happen!
Please let me know if this post was useful. What did you learn? What was missing? Do you have problems finishing a pastel? And if so, what are those problems? To comment, just click on the title of the post above and that will take you to my website where you can comment or, simply reply to this email and let me know that I can attach your comment to the blog and I’ll do just that. (Google search loves lots of comments!!)
As always, I look forward to hearing from you!
PS. You can see more of the evolution of the pastel over at my gailsibley.com website. Click here to see it. In it, I mention the influence of Wolf Kahn. Here’s an example of his work:
Gorgeous isn’t it??? One day I’ll do a blog on his work.
It’s about time I published a new video with a pastel painting tip. So here it is! I talk about how to sort a new box of pastels (a small starter kit) into values. The main thing you need to do this is SQUINT!!
So without further ado, here’s the video:
Please give me some feedback. Was the video helpful? Was it clear? And what other videos would you like to see? My goal is to make a whole heap of short videos on all aspects of doing pastels.
Have a great weekend! I am off to Salt Spring Island for an overnight with my good friend Sandy. It’ll be dinner, some single malt whisky with dark chocolate, then a movie. Perfect!
PS. Remember that since there is no comment button in your email, if you would like to share a comment (which I hope you do!), please reply to this email and I’ll attach it for you OR click on the title of the blog which will take you to the website. Once there, click on Leave a reply, and post your reply. Thanks!!
So I just couldn’t let this day go by without posting a video to thank you for all your words of support and encouragement. They, and you, mean the world to me!!
And so, today, I thought, why not quickly pastel a heart full of all the joys, the anguish, the complexity, the different shades and colour of love. The video is without sound as I wanted you just to see my intuitive process without me describing what I’m doing (cos really, I don’t know!). I figure you can choose some music to accompany your watching. I had no preconceived idea of what the final piece would look like, only that I was inspired by the shape of a heart. It was just down and dirty and away I go!!
The pastel took me about 16 minutes and is speeded up x 4 (rather than the usual x 8 on my pastel demos) which gives you time to see my actions.
I’m using Schminke’s starter set plus a gorgeous pink from Mount Vision Pastels. I’m working on Richeson’s Unison Premium Pastel Surface. I had so much fun, layering, layering, and seeing what would happen if I did this or that. Total freedom, well, except for the camera recording but I always knew I could throw out the whole thing if it just didn’t work!
With regard to colours, I was inspired by those used in a painting by Joan Mitchell (I’ll show you at the end of the blog).
Click on the image below to see the video
It’s unlisted so it won’t appear on my channel (at the moment anyway – depends on the response!) but the link can be shared and I’m fine with that if you are inclined to do so.
Here are the pastels I used:
The final pastel:
And here’s the colour inspiration:
Whew, made it under the wire. Happy Valentine’s Day!!!
Please let me know what you think of this crazy experiment of mine
Until next time,
Oh my gosh, I forgot to tell you I was off to La Manzanilla, Mexico for a couple of weeks for a week of tango intensive and also a week of semi-vacation (it’s kind of a working holiday). It takes a wee bit of time to settle in and get an internet connection hence the delay in finishing this post and sending it out to you.
Nevertheless, here I am with a step-by-step progression of a pastel painting I did for my gallery in Grand Cayman of a country road in Jamaica. I worked from a photo (an old one!) and here’s the result.
Please let me know if you have any questions or any comments about the process above. I look forward to hearing from you!!
As to commenting….
I am using the wonderful Mad Mimi to capture my blog feeds and distribute them to you. One downside is that you won’t find a Comment button. So, if you have something to share, or a question to ask, either reply to this email and I’ll post your comment for you (easy peasy) OR click on the title of the blog which will take you to the website. Once there, click on Leave a reply, and Bob’s your uncle! (That’s a strange saying isn’t it? So I looked it up. Click here if you want to know more. Totally unrelated to pastels!!)
Okay, I’m off to bed. All these days of tango classes are exhausting!
Thanks for being here with me,
The Pastel Demo Video
I’m really happy to tell you that I now have another video up on YouTube. Just click on the image of me below and have a look at the video then let me know what you think. In it, I talk a bit about using negative space. Was it helpful? Did you understand what I meant? Leave me a comment here or in the comment box on YouTube. I’d appreciate your feedback.
Here are a few other pictures you might be interested in:
The Contest Winners!!
In my last post, I promised you the list of winners for my contest (the one I ran to encourage subscribers). I decided that since the response was so great, that I’d draw three winners instead of just one. I also thought to be fair to those who had already found their way to my blog, that I would draw one winner from that list. I am happy to say everyone received their first choice.
1. Betty A. Atteberry from Florida, USA
2. Irene McKinley from Washington, USA
3. Jon Wilks from England
4. Laura Gabel from Florida, USA
(If you are wondering what this is all about, you can click here to read about it )
I’ll talk to you soon!
Bill Creevy’s Advice
Oh my gosh, I thought I’d already posted this blog and video but found it sitting in drafts. And it’s way too good to waste.
So here it is, a very short video I made at IAPS (International Association of Pastel Societies) Convention last June. I asked Bill Creevy, one of my pastel heroes, what to do if you have artist’s block. This is his great advice. (If the video doesn’t show up in the post when you are viewing it, click here.)
Here is some of Bill’s fabulous work. Look at that texture! Look at that light! Look at that composition!
Have you ever had artist’s block? What do you do to overcome it? I’d love to hear!
And if you don’t have Bill Creevy’s book, The Pastel Book, then get it! It’s packed full of interesting ideas. His was one of the first books I bought on pastels and boy was it an eye-opener! I’ll talk more about his book in a future blog.
Contest for Subscribing
Hoping your year has begun really well. Mine sure has
Until next time,
Whistler’s ‘The Guidecca’
James McNeill Whistler’s lovely sketch “The Guidecca” seems a good way to symbolize saying farewell to the old year and welcoming the new since I think this piece could either be a sunset or a sunrise.
Guidecca refers to the Canale della Guidecca that runs between Venice and the Isola della Guidecca to the south of Venice. Standing on the island is Il Redentore, a late Renaissance church. Is that it in the distance? (I’ve never been to Venice – it’s at the top of my bucket list! – so I cannot tell from experience.)
The luminous quality of late or early light is extraordinary. With a few pastels and a few strokes, and with much paper left visible, Whistler undoubtedly created this picture from life. Apparently Whistler hired a gondola by the month which he would load up with painting supplies and then the gondolier would take him to various sketching locations. Can’t imagine being able to afford that these days!
We are given an image with great depth: in the foreground the dark gondola with its reflection, the mid-canal ship, buildings and docked ships in the middle ground, and the bridge and church lightly indicated in the distance. The sky is beautifully reflected in the quiet water.
When it was exhibited in London in 1881, the critic for The Athenaeum wrote, “It is difficult to resist the charm of the silvery and fleshtones in…The Guidecca, which comprises a gondola floating on a calm and exquisitely graded water.”
The pastel was eventually given by Whistler to the sculptor Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm who made a bust of his friend. On the back of the pastel is written, “To Boehm – whose Art is exquisite and whose sympathy is sufficient.” Boehm appreciated the pastel, “the every joy-giving picture,” and called it ‘the bella Venetia.’
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this pastel.
Thanks to all of you who have recently subscribed. I was overwhelmed by the response and decided that one winner was not enough! So I’ll have my honey Cam randomly pick three winners.
As well, I’ve decided to reward those who joined my subscriber list before the official launch and draw a winner from their names also.
As soon as we’ve made the draw, I’ll be contacting the lucky ones with the news so they can pick their print. I’ll announce the winners in my next blog. Stay tuned!!
Wishing you all your most creative pastelling year ever!! Thanks for taking this journey of how to pastel with me. Please share this blog with all those you think might benefit from the website.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
PS. Much of the information for this blog came from this book given to me years ago by my friend Zig.
A short post to let you know that I just uploaded a new Pastel Painting Tip video! Yay!
I’d love to know what you think. Feel free to be honest! I am planning a series so any input would be great.
Ciao for now!
Doug Dawson is one of the pastel artists I came across when I first began to explore the medium of pastel. Many years later, I was lucky enough to take a 3-day workshop with him in Placerville, California where I learnt so much. It was a marvellous experience.
Over the years, I have made a short re-aquaintance with him and his delightful wife Sue, at every IAPS convention I have attended. This year in Albuqureque, at the 10th gathering of IAPS, I managed to nab him for a short video. Here it is:
Here’s my latest video on how to paint metal. As always, you’ll see it’s all about seeing values!!
Check it out and let me know what you think!
Thanks for watching