Well I’m home from Mexico where I had a glorious time, first with my sweetheart Cam for a couple of weeks then with my lovely niece Aly for a week. Have to say it’s taken me some time to get back to this reality.
I did this plein air pastel while in La Manzanilla. I was going to post a blog about it while I was there but I just wasn’t happy with the pastel. So today I worked on it in the studio. I like it better but I’m still not sure about it.
Let’s have a boo.
Here’s the spot that caught my eye. What I saw was the shape of the almond tree trunks against the light background. I also liked the turquoise colour of the building
I made a couple of thumbnails (sorry you have to turn your head sideways for the lower one!) to decide on my composition. I chose the top sketch.
1. Drawing in vine charcoal on Wallis paper (drymounted on foamcore)
2. First colours applied
3. More pastel applied. Introducing warmth to the turquoise wall
4. Beginning to adjust values
5. A look at the pastel in black and white
6. Feeling the wall is too blank and so or interest, added a plant. I also tried out a figure.
7. Realized the figure was too large and so reduced it and added a child figure. Also added warm coloured flowers to the shrub. This is the plein air pastel complete on site.
8. The final pastel as seen in black and white.
Back in Canada, I ponder the pastel. I think the bright purple spot in the centre captures too much of the viewer’s attention. I also feel the turquoise wall needs to be darker (darker than it is in reality – this is where artistic license comes into play!).
9. First thing I do back in the studio is to darken the wall. I also lightened the area of purple. As well, I added more colour to the figures and brightened the flowers on the shrub.
10. I started working on the shadow cast by the building and defined the leaves of the almond trees.
11. A look at the same pastel in black and white
12. I darkened the area behind the roof on the left side and made more tweaks. It’s complete for now. “La Manzanilla Almond Trees,” 12 x 9 in
Here are the Great American pastels I used
And here are the pastels I had to choose from. These are the Great American 18-colour General Purpose Assortment. It bugs me that there isn’t a pure orange! But still, it’s a pretty good set to get started with.
So what do you think? Did you notice anything about the plein air pastel as it relates to the thumbnail I chose??
One of the problems is that I didn’t follow my thumbnail!! Bad girl. You know how I go on about creating a thumbnail as a way to design your piece and then continue to use it as a guide as you go? Well, somehow, I did NOT accurately make the transfer from thumbnail to paper. I have no idea what happened. Distractions perhaps?? 🙂 Anyway, I think this is part of the reason I am not totally happy with the piece.
The thumbnail I thought I was following!
Look at how little of the wall is shown in the thumbnail compared to the pastel. In the thumbnail, I’m focusing on the design made by the tree trunks. (You can also see the hint of a possible figure.) In my pastel, I include quite a bit of the wall. I think that’s because I was so taken by the turquoise colour. You can see below that the wall is a prime part of the second thumbnail I tried. I think there is a residue of this thumbnail in the pastel painting!
The thumbnail sketch I didn’t use
Anyway, wanted to share this lesson with you. Follow your thumbnail sketch!!
I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time,