Category Archives: Pastel demo

These video demos show you an ultra fast creation of a pastel painting (sped up by about eight times).

Pastels on black aper: Gail Sibley, "Untitled [at this point], Mount Vision pastels on Sansfix pastel card, 5 1/2 x 7 3/4 in

Using Pastels On Black Paper

Occasionally I get asked the question: Do you ever use soft pastels on black paper? And the answer is: Well no, I don’t. Mind you, when I first started in pastels over 20 years ago, I worked on a dark green mat board. So I have worked with pastels on dark paper, just not black paper. But once I discovered sanded paper, ie Wallis paper which came in the warm mid-value colour known as Belgian mist that I used at first, it was bye-bye dark paper!

When thinking about what I could do a new pastel demo for YouTube on, I recalled the question about pastels on black paper and here you have the result. I’m using pastels from Mount Vision’s workshop set of 50 pastels on Schminke’s Sansfix pastel card.

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Using White Paper For Pastelling

I have done a few pastel demo videos now, all of them on toned Wallis paper. A question I’ve been asked is, Why don’t you use white paper? and What would the pastel painting look like on white paper?

I have taken these questions to heart and decided to do a demo on white paper even though it’s not my usual surface colour. In the demo, I use, for the first time, Terry Ludwig’s set of 14 Best Loved Basics – the company’s uber starter kit. When I first looked at these, I was surprised and a little bit anxious, if I’m truthful, because there wasn’t the usual saturated colour selection I’m used to, for instance, no bright yellow, orange, or green. But I was up for a challenge! Here’s the result.

 

 

So let’s have a closer look. First the set-up:

White Paper blog: The set-up of bowl and fork on a green background

The set-up of bowl and fork on a green background. You can see how orange the bowl is and how bright the green.

 

Next the thumbnail.

White paper vid: The thumbnail sketch, pen and ink, about 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 in

The thumbnail sketch, pen and ink, about 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. This delineates the three main values: light, middle and dark

 

So let’s look at a few progression pieces:

Vine charcoal sketch on Wallis white paper

Vine charcoal sketch on Wallis white paper

Pastelling on white paper: Three values beginning to show in early layers

Three values beginning to show in first layers

Pastelling on white paper: The pastel all blocked in and value areas settling in to what they should be

The pastel all blocked in and value areas settling in to what they should look like

The final piece after 35 minutes of pasting. Gail Sibley, "Orange Bowl, Red Fork," Terry Ludwig pastels on Wallis white paper, 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 in

The final piece after 35 minutes of pastelling.
Gail Sibley, “Orange Bowl, Red Fork,” Terry Ludwig pastels on Wallis white paper, 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 in

And just for fun, the final piece in black and white. Gail Sibley, "Orange Bowl, Red Fork," Terry Ludwig pastels on Wallis white paper, 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 in

And just for fun, the final piece in black and white.
Gail Sibley, “Orange Bowl, Red Fork,” Terry Ludwig pastels on Wallis white paper, 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 in.

 

The combination of the softness of the Terry Ludwig pastels and the sanded texture of the Wallis paper allowed layers to be built up thus eliminating most of the white specks of paper showing through. Where you can see them, I rather like the sparkle that the white paper brings, for instance in the shadow side of the bowl.

Here are the photos of the Terry Ludwig set:

Pastelling on white paper: Terry Ludwig pastels - 14 Best Loved Basics

Terry Ludwig Pastels – 14 Best Loved Basics. Box cover

Pastelling on white paper: Terry Ludwig pastels - 14 Best Loved Basics. The pastels circled are the two I didn't use

Terry Ludwig soft pastels – 14 Best Loved Basics. The pastels circled are the two I didn’t use

 

I love the name of this set of pastels – Best Loved. It doesn’t have the name “starter box/kit” or anything like that. Instead, it appeals to our emotions. And this is typical of the way Terry works. For instance, while at IAPS conferences, I have received free samples. (You can see a whole piece I did from this selection of IAPS samples by clicking here.) Terry (and team) also posts artwork by others created with his pastels on the company’s Facebook Page. It’s through this generosity that we not only come to love his pastels but also the man himself.

I was curious as to how this selection of pastels came about – how were the colours chosen? I put the question to Marie Ludwig, President of the Terry Ludwig Pastels. Here’s what she had to say: “The Maggie Price Best Loved Basics, a set of 60 pastels, is the set we most often suggest to new pastel artists just getting started with the medium. We became aware this set would be a price stretch for those new artists and decided to create a small set geared toward them. Terry selected the 14 pastel colors and values he believed would be most useful for the new pastelist.” So there you have it! A fabulous beginner set for sure.

 

Limitations, counter-intuitively perhaps, enable you to grow as an artist. A limited colour selection, working with colours not usually in your palette, these things will lead to creativity and progress. I leave you with this quote (substitute the word ‘artist’ for ‘writer’):

 

pastelling on white paper: Neil Gaiman quote on the value of barriers

 

That’s it folks! Tell me, do you use white paper? If so, why? I’d love to know how you use the white paper. Let’s get a discussion going!

Until next time,

~ Gail

 

PS. I recently did a pastel self-portrait using the same set of 14 Best Loved Basics. Watch for that coming soon!!

Overworked Pastel? No Problem! Just Rework It

I have this pastel. It was painted on location and then worked on in the studio. I wrote a blog about it (click here to read it). It received some wonderful comments. But I’ve never been completely happy with the pastel. I feel it’s an overworked pastel and just not the way I want it to look.

Since it’s been worked on so much, I decided to rework it into something else and capture the process for this blog. Although doing this was a risk, especially knowing a few people really liked the piece, I was ready to plunge in. I figured no matter what happened, since I was unhappy with the pastel as it was, whatever happened next was just fine. I may end up with a wonderful new piece or I may end up with a mess. If a mess, I can always wash the whole thing clean! And if a new piece, then yay!

Here’s the original overworked pastel:

Gail Sibley, “Afternoon Walk, Dukes Road,” pastel,  12 x 9 in - overworked?

Gail Sibley, “Afternoon Walk, Dukes Road,” pastel, 12 x 9 in

 

First off, I gently wipe the pastel with a paper towel to soften all the edges and blur the image.

Gail Sibley, “Afternoon Walk, Dukes Road,” pastel,  12 x 9 in. The wiping leaves the ghost of the original image.

Gail Sibley, “Afternoon Walk, Dukes Road,” pastel, 12 x 9 in. The wiping leaves the ghost of the original image.

 

Now where do I take it? Do I make it abstract? One thing’s for sure, I’m done working on the landscape that’s there. I’ve reworked it so much that I feel like it’s dead. But there’s still an interesting pattern of light and dark that I can work with. I’ll also look to see if there’s any other visible form, for example, figurative, or I’ll turn it on its side and see if there’s another landscape possibility.

I can no longer call the piece by it's original title as now it's a work in progress. I've decided to use the light and dark pattern and use vine charcoal to outline the main pattern I see.

I can no longer call the piece by its original title as now it’s a work in progress. I’ve decided to use the original light and dark pattern and I use vine charcoal to outline the main pattern I see.

 

Now what? I decide to choose a limited palette from the colours used in the original. I pick the yellow and a blue as the primary colours. I add magenta and a cool red. Then I began to add the chosen colours to the outlined shapes.

A new piece begins it's evolution. The pattern of light and dark is hinted at from the original but we no longer have a realistic looking landscape.

A new piece begins its evolution. The pattern of light and dark is still hinted at from the original painting but we no longer have a realistic looking landscape. (You can see I also tried a mauve colour which I immediately rejected and covered up.)

 

Hmmm, interesting I think. I continue.

More lines added, a couple more colours added.

More lines added, a couple more colours added.

 

I wonder about drips and add water along one edge. But I discover that drips don’t happen that easily in pastels. (You can see there’s a bit of darkness along the right hand side. That’s wet pastels.) I feel that how I’ve been working, hatching the pastel, has begun to look too much the same. Pretty, I think, and I don’t want pretty. I also feel the big swooping shape takes you right out of the picture. So I decide to introduce long lines across the whole picture plane to stop that movement as well as to add some discomfort to the prettiness. Will it work?

Lines added. These add complexity to the whole thing. Adding the lines, I was considering how the viewer moves around the painting. I want to keep the viewer there!

Lines added. These add complexity to the whole thing. When adding the lines, I was considering how the viewer’s eye moves around the painting. I want to keep the viewer there!

 

Stepping back, I think I’ve added more interest to the piece. But there’s still work to be done.

Worked a bit further

Worked a bit further. More lines added, more shapes delineated.

 

The same progression as above but in black and white. This really shows up the pattern of darks and lights.

The same progression as above but in black and white. This really shows up the pattern of darks and lights.

 

I begin to see light filtering through slats of wood or metal. Like the elevated train platform in Chicago or the Eiffel Tower. With this idea in mind, I continue on. I decide to break up some of the large dark shapes further.

The piece as far as it's gotten. I don't know whether it's finished or still has a way to go or if it's overworked.

The piece as far as it’s gotten. I don’t know whether it’s finished or still has a way to go. Or is it an overworked pastel once again? Time will tell.

 

And here it is in black and white:

The pastel as it is shown in black and white.

The pastel as it is shown in black and white.

 

The images above follow the vertical format of the original piece. Let’s see what happens when we look at it horizontally:

The same image rotated horizontally

The same image rotated horizontally.

 

And here are the eight Sennelier pastels used.

And here are the eight Sennelier pastels used.

I don’t know if it was a good idea to follow the light pattern that was there originally but that’s what I did and this is what I ended up doing and how the piece progressed.

I’ll need to sit with the painting and see what happens, to decide whether I’ll need to go further, stop, or let go of the whole thing again. I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I’d love to know your thoughts about what I did!!

Wishing you a splendid 2015. Let’s see what wonderful things we can create and discover in pastel together!!

~ Gail

 

PS. On my mind while working on this pastel was the 7th January shooting of 12 people at the Paris offices of the satirical weekly paper Charlie Hebdo. Although this painting doesn’t reference it directly, the awful event was in my subconscious for sure.

To see an amazing outpouring in cartoons by cartoonists from around the world, click here.

[tweet “”Death shadows us. Live fully!!” ~ Gail Sibley”]

 

PPS. It feels good to be back in the studio. I’ve been working at completing the Pastel Painting En Plein Air online videos (done) and I’m now beginning to choose a place to store the videos online, decide on and set up a portal for access, and determine a method for purchasing. All computer stuff i.e. NOT in the studio!

 

What’s a Low Key Painting?

Talking about a low key painting seems appropriate at this, the darkest time of the year (in the northern hemisphere anyway!). So what is a low key painting? It’s one in which most of the colours are predominantly dark in value and often subdued (i.e. not bright colours).

I’ve just uploaded a video of me demoing a low key painting. Have a look:

 

Low key painting demo video

 

 

You can see my set up below. I must have changed my angle when I began to paint though; I didn’t see any secondary highlights in the shadow side of the bowl like the ones you can see here.

 

The bowl and pepper set up for low key painting

The bowl and pepper set up for the low key painting.

The thumbnail in preparation for the low key painting

The thumbnail in preparation for the low key painting

The initial drawing for the low key painting done in vine charcoal on toned Wallis paper

The initial drawing in vine charcoal on toned Wallis paper

The pastels used in the low key painting

The Schminke pastels used in the low key painting. There are 14 of them! I was struggling to create the colours I saw, keeping them in the correct values, hence the need to use more pastels than usual. You can see what I thought was ‘black’  is actually a ‘cool gray’ (top left).

The low key painting: Gail Sibley, "Peppers in a Bowl," Schminke pastels on Wallis paper, 6 x 6 in

Gail Sibley, “Peppers in a Bowl,” Schminke pastels on Wallis paper, 6 x 6 in

 

Here is that low key painting again but photographed in black and white

Here is that low key painting again but photographed in black and white. This really shows you how dark the painting is.

 

A couple of months ago, I did a video on high key painting. Check it out on my blog here. You can see how completely different the painting looks from this one!!

 

Wow, it’s almost Christmas Day! Wishing you a very special holiday surrounded by love and laughter.  I’m so looking forward to spending the next few days with my Mum and Dad, my brother and his family, and my honey.

With warmth and huge thanks,

~ Gail

 

PS. Because of the time of the year, you may want to watch me painting a branch of holly 🙂

Pastel Demo At Opus A Marvellous Experience!

Opus Art Store Pastel Demo

Wow, did I ever have a fun day on Sunday doing my pastel demo!! I can’t believe I’m saying that what with a bit of anxiety days before around the whole thing – what was I going to paint? how nervous would I be? how would it turn out?

I got there in plenty of time to set up, do a thumbnail sketch, and then get the initial charcoal sketch done on the Wallis paper I was using. Then I was ready. And suddenly, it was 11am, the store was open and there were about 20 people flowing into the chairs. I was surprised to see only a couple of people I knew. (With luck, I may have a few new subscribers to this blog :-))

I spoke a bit about pastel choices and the benefit of using a limited palette, about types of paper, and then I got into the demo. I really tried to make a point of verbalizing what was going on in my head as well as what I was doing on paper, rather than just drift into the ‘zone’ and work. It seemed to go pretty well! I was lucky to have an appreciative and encouraging audience who appeared to enjoy the pastel demo and find it useful. I’m glad that, in the end, I chose a subject I had painted before and also that I did a simple set up.

I don’t have progression steps but I do have a photo of the setup, my thumbnail sketch, the pastels I used from my limited palette of Schminke, and the demo at the end. (Kicking myself that I didn’t get a shot of the area with everyone in it!) The two hours flew by and of course I lost track of time so near the end, I needed to get to the highlights before I would normally indulge myself with this treat.

Take a look.

 

Pastel demo set up of two peppers and garlic cloves

Pastel demo set up of two peppers and garlic cloves. The photograph removes so much of the subtleties and colour shifts you can see in life!

 

Thumbnail sketch in pencil for pastel demo

Thumbnail sketch in pencil for the pastel demo. You can see the three main value areas of dark cast shadow, lightest value where the light hits the peppers and garlic cloves, and middle value for most of the rest.

 

The pastel demo at the end of about 1 1/2 hours of working and lots of talking between!

The pastel demo at the end of about 1 1/2 hours of working and lots of talking between! The piece is definitely not complete but that’s as far as I got in the allotted time. One thing I found was that the Wallis paper had a different texture from what I’m used to. It’s fine but was a surprise as I worked. The texture almost shows through more like watercolour paper. There’s so much more I wanted to do – work on the orange pepper, darken the clove in the cast shadow, work a bit more on the background cloth. Ah well.

 

 

The eleven Schminke pastels I used for the pastel demo, looking rather dirty

The eleven Schminke pastels I used, looking rather dirty.

 

The small set of Schminke pastels from which I pulled my pastels for this pastel demo

The set of Schminke pastels from which I chose my pastels

Yes, doing the pastel demo at Opus was really a great experience for me!!

 

Featured Artist!

I am honoured to be chosen as the feature artist for December on the Pastel Artists Canada Facebook Page. Check it out here!

 

That’s it for this time. Love hearing from you!!

 

For now,

~ Gail

 

All About How to Paint Glass Objects – a new video!

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!

 

video - how to paint glass objects

Click image to see the demo – how to paint glass

 

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.

Thumbnail of glass bottles

Thumbnail of glass bottles to confirm set-up for video on how to paint glass

 

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.

How to paint glass set-up in black and white

‘How to paint glass’ set-up in black and white

 

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.

The Unison set of pastels I chose from to make the video, how to paint glass

The Unison set of pastels I chose from to make the video, How to Paint Glass Objects. Aren’t they gorgeous???

 

And here is the final pastel:

"Two Bottles," pastel,5 .5 x 5.5 in

Gail Sibley, “Two Bottles,” pastel, 5.5 x 5.5 in

 

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,

~ Gail

 

 

Eyes Wide Open – All About Seeing Colour!

 

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.

 

Quick thumbnail (1.5 x 1.5 in) to set up design and values

1. Quick thumbnail (1.5 x 1.5 in) to set up design and values

 

Here’s the set up of pears in life (well in a photograph of the pears in life – gets complicated!).

 

The three pears waiting to be painted.

2. The three pears waiting to be painted.

 

And here’s the same set up in black and white so you can see the values:

 

The pears shown in black and white

3. The pears shown in black and white

 

Here’s the initial drawing in charcoal on Wallis paper:

 

Wallis paper with a watercolour wash and the charcoal outline of pears. Notice that I changed the stem on the pear on the left so as to fit it into the square format!

4. Wallis paper with a watercolour wash and the charcoal outline of pears. Notice that I changed the stem on the pear on the left so as to fit it into the square format!

 

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:

 

Stephanie Birdsall’s collection of Holbein pastels

5. Stephanie Birdsall’s collection of Holbein 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:

 

Gail Sibley, “Three Pears,” pastel on paper, 5.5 x 5.5 in

6. Gail Sibley, “Three Pears,” pastel on paper, 5.5 x 5.5 in

 

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,

~ Gail

 

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.

 

Harry Chapin singing "Flowers are Red"

 

 

A Heart for You on This Valentine’s Day!

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:

Schminke pastels used

Schminke pastels used plus one pink Mount Vision

 

The final pastel:

Gail Sibley, "A Valentine's Day Heart," pastel on paper, 8 x 10 in

Gail Sibley, “With Love” pastel on paper, 8 x 10 in

 

And here’s the colour inspiration:

Joan Mitchell, " Gently," 1982, oil on canvas, 22.5 x 18 in, Private collection

Joan Mitchell, ” Gently,” 1982, oil on canvas, 22.5 x 18 in, Private collection

 

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,

~ Gail

 

 

 

 

A new pastel demo video! Holly and Negative Space

The Pastel Demo Video

I’m really happy to tell you that I now have another video up on YouTube. 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:

Holly - subject of the video

Here’s the holly sitting on the shelf

The initial charcoal sketch of the holly

The initial charcoal sketch of the holly

 

Gail Sibley, "A Sprig of Holly," pastel on paper, 6 x 6 in

Gail Sibley, “A Sprig of Holly,” pastel on paper, 6 x 6 in

 

The line-up of the Great American soft pastels used

The line-up of the Great American soft pastels used

 

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!

~ Gail