Recently I was asked about cropping – why do it, how to do it, when to do it. Indeed, the question was: Is there a ‘formula’ for cropping?
I’ve written a previous post on using a viewfinder to help you crop your reference photo to get the best view to paint. (A reminder – try out a number of thumbnails!!) This post is about cropping your finished pastel painting.
I can’t say enough good things about cropping. Cropping is about trimming away everything from your painting until only the essential remains. Cropping has the potential to transform your work from ‘meh’ to ‘wow!’. Yet we don’t utilize this great tool often enough. Why not? Before I get to that, let’s look at why you might consider cropping.
Last month I participated in HowToPastel’s 31-paintings-in-31-days Challenge. Somehow I only missed one day despite the fact that I was travelling two of the four weeks. And what’s more, I only travelled with carry-on luggage! So how could I fit everything plus art supplies? The answer was a small box of pastels and small pieces of paper (and a pared down collection of clothes!).
Through the whole Challenge, I decided to use only Unison Colour pastels as a way to acknowledge the honour of being invited to become a Unison Colour Associate Artist. (They are updating their website but soon I’ll be able to direct you to my page there!)
While in the studio, all work was done with pastels from their classic starter set of 36. But on the road, when every gram and square centimetre count, this was too bulky and heavy!
I looked at taking a small Sennelier set but decided to stick with the Unison Colour theme. I had a small box of pastels – I’m talking small!! It has 16 half-sticks and is extremely light. Here’s a picture of the pastels in the box:
I’m writing this sitting in Frankfurt airport as I travel home from my 7-day Croatia workshop. Teaching this workshop got me thinking a lot about negative space – both its power as a visual device and as a tool to aid in the creation of a painting. My demo and lesson on the last day touched on the use of negative space.
Here’s my demo:
Visiting my Mum and Dad last weekend, I was struck by the light and colour of summer flowers in a vase on the living room table. The thing that really got my attention though was the way the red coaster was visible beside the vase but disappeared behind it even though the vase was transparent. It then ‘appeared’ in two other places ‘on’ the vase. Well I wasn’t about to figure out why and how that happened but I did become interested in capturing the effect. This painting was so much about painting what you see, not what you know! So let me take you through the process.
Probably the question I get asked the most is: “What pastels would you suggest I start with? And by the way, I have a limited budget.” Choosing your first soft pastels should be easy but with all the choices we have, the decisions become more difficult. This week I answer the question!
If all you have is a limited palette, a lack of colour choices can stop you from painting some subjects. I’m here to persuade you to take up the creativity challenge with the pastels you have available – you may be surprised!
Take today’s demo – a box of tissues as its subject. It’s a lot of off-whites on off-whites. But say my palette only has a few colours to choose from, what do I do? Well let’s check it out.
I’m back in my studio after a wee getaway to Seattle and then Salt Spring Island. The DK Project is pretty much wrapped up so I can do what I like in my studio. But being able to do anything often means I do nothing! And so the blank canvas sits starring back at me. I’ve spoken previously about the usefulness of boundaries and restrictions in pushing creativity so I decided to set up a challenge. This time, it would be about breaking the rules.
I know how tempting it is to get right in there and paint when you’re excited about a subject. But hold on, did you do a thumbnail?! And what about creating colour studies, have you drawn up a couple of those?
I know I know, I hear you – it all takes so much time!! But you know what? A bit of time spent in preparation can save you frustration and disappointment in the long run, and also help you produce an exceptional painting!
So what are colour studies?
A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I was working on a BIG project that was going to consume a LOT of my time hence my skipping the round-up of December paintings and also missing last Tuesday’s blog. (Thanks to those of you who wrote me noticing that a blog hadn’t arrived in your inbox last week!) I’ve been given the okay to tell you about it. I can’t share all but I can give you hints. Curious? Let’s call it the DK Project.
So you think you have no time to paint? One of the things I learned doing the 31 in 31 challenge last month is that there really is always a way to carve out time to create art.
I spend a lot of time on my computer these days, e.g. working on my blog, connecting with members of the HowToPastel Facebook group, or developing my online courses. I often feel desperate for and incapable of finding time to get in my studio, but having done the challenge, I realize that’s a crock! It’s easy to make excuses about having no time to paint. So what to do about it?