A completely abstract pastel and how I got there!

 

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!!

 

1. The Terry Ludwig pastels I used

1. The Terry Ludwig pastels I used (and all that I have).  Isn’t that heart adorable?? I cheated a bit because I didn’t have a warm colour except the dark claret pastel so I snuck in a pink Great American…. Terry has some amazing pink/fushia/magenta colours. Unfortunately, I don’t own any 🙁

 

Here’s a look at the sequence of my abstract pastel:

2. First step - get some pastel down on the mounted Wallis paper!

2. First step – get some pastel down on the mounted Wallis paper!

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.

3. I rotated the start to see what I could see. I decided as much as I wanted to try a low horizon (even doing sketches of possibilities), in the end, I preferred it the other way around.

3. I rotate the start to see what I could see. I decide as much as I want to try a low horizon (even doing sketches of possibilities), in the end, I prefer it the other way around.

4. Taking more pastel, I began layering and also covering the entire surface. I began to sense the movement in the piece

4. Taking more pastel, I begin layering and also covering the entire surface. I want to retain the feeling of movement in the piece.

5. Have a look at it in black and white. I decided I need to introduce more value contrast. You'll see this happens in the next stage.

5. Have a look at it in black and white. I decide I need to introduce more value contrast. You’ll see this happens in the next stage.

6. I have the sense of a road going off into the horizon so I exaggerate that in the sweep of the pastel stroke. I also add more dark and light values (see the black and white below).

6. I have the sense of a road going off into the horizon so I exaggerate that in the sweep of the pastel stroke. I also add more dark and light values (see the black and white below). I begin to feel that I need to stop the movement right off the paper hence the calligraphic squiggles at the bottom.

7. You can more easily see the wider range of values from dark to light in this black and white photo of the pastel.

7. You can more easily see the wider range of values from dark to light in this black and white photo of the pastel.

8. I decide to straighten up the curving strokes, retain the curve in the road but creat the road itself with vertical strokes. I realize I also need to solidify and simplify the whole before I can say it's finished.

8. I decide to straighten up the curving strokes, retain the curve in the road (let’s just call it a road for now) but create the road itself with vertical strokes. I realize I also need to solidify and simplify the whole before I can say it’s finished.

9. The pastel is finished! I simplified all the squiggles at the bottom and also brought in some darks to keep the eye wandering around the piece (and not out over the edge!).

9. I continue to emphasize the vertical strokes. I simplify all the squiggles at the bottom and also bring in some darks to keep the eye wandering around the piece (and not out over the edge!). The abstract pastel is finished! Love love love those Terry Ludwig pastels. I now ‘get’ why everyone raves about them!

 

 

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 🙂

~ Gail

 

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.

9 thoughts on “A completely abstract pastel and how I got there!

  1. Sandy Gordon

    Hello again. Seeing the abstract develop added another dimension to the finished product. Think I like the colours. The meaning of the work at the moment is only a feeling, it may gain a life of its own. You have accomplished a lot in the past few months. Congratulations again S.

    Reply
  2. Helen Owen

    Gail: Loved the colours! I would turn the picture upside down and call it “Seascape”. You could hide all the fish images in the seaweed (like part of the seaweed would suggest shapes). Yours truly………Helen

    Reply
    1. Gail Post author

      Glad you like the colours Helen. And thanks for the turned over suggestion! I’m still kinda stuck on the rain in the forest idea though…. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Mary Jo Oberg

    Great lesson! I love that you copied it in bl and wh and got the values! Love your lessons. Someday I will be as brave to do in abstract!!!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  4. el Tea

    Hi Gail.

    I just learned who you were a few days ago while noodling around on youtube. I’ve viewed all 44 videos and I love all the short interviews with the Soft Pastel Greats! I just wish you had hours instead of minutes with each artist and manufacturer. How I envy you your trip to the convention and wish I were able to go with all the spending money to load up on all those lovely, useful things. Today I tried to tell my pastel students to look you up, but for the life of me, I couldn’t come up with your name. I will remember next week.

    I really like this piece. Both ways. At the early stage, it looked to me like a garden, of sorts. With the dark greens on top it reminded me of an evergreen forest abutting a body of water, or a swamp, with wild flowers growing at the edge and somewhat into the edges in the way that Blue Flag Iris grow out from the shoreline. With the green at the bottom of the painting, it is a garden viewed while on one’s belly with those blue blossoms- delphiniums or gladiolas, perhaps, contrasting with the bright clean turquoise sky, and trees edging the garden. You could have stopped there but now it is a bit less floral and a bit more abstract. My work is far from abstract, but I long to see more soft pastel abstracts. Thanks for putting quality instruction out there. I hope it will encourage more people to create, market or purchase pastels.

    Reply
    1. Gail Post author

      Hi Laurie,
      Many thanks for your enthusiasm and compliments and enthusiasm!! Wow – do I have 44 videos loaded??? And you’ve watched ALL of them?? Incredible!! That is a HUGE compliment. Thank you!!! Your words a certainly an encouragement to produce more videos.

      If you can ever get to IAPS, you will LOVE it! Just being with others who adore pastels will fill you up. Next year when I am there, I plan on making more videos. The ones on my Channel was a challenge for me – it was the first time I had ever interviewed people and I was nervous at the beginning. But it became easier and I began to enjoy it. So I am looking forward to what next year will bring.

      Thank you also for your lovely descriptions of my pastel as it progressed, so poetic :-))

      I am glad you are wishing to see more soft pastel abstracts – I’ll see what I can do!

      Thanks again for writing!!
      Gail
      PS. Sorry to take so long replying – I was away on a cruise with my family and had no internet then family visits when I got back and now finally settle back into a normal routine!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *