Login

Blurred Boundaries #5 – a pastel progression step-by-step

 

Hellooo!!

I’m back again after all the craziness of getting two shows up within two weeks of each other – Emergence in the middle of May, Caught Red Handed at the end. Wow! And coming up, an open studio (Fernwood Art Stroll) this weekend. After that, it will be life as normal, well, sort of!

A couple of people were curious about the process I followed in the Blurred Boundaries pastel used on the Emergence exhibition invitation so I thought that would be a great idea for a blog.

First, the invitation:

Emergence show invitation showing the pastel 'Inscribed'
Emergence show invitation showing the pastel ‘Inscribed’

 

The pastel is titled “Inscribed” and it’s #5 in the Blurred Boundaries series. (To read my blogs on the first three in the series, click here for #1, here for #2, and here for #3.) Another time I’ll write a post of #4. For now, let’s get started.

 

1. Pencil thumbnail trying many different variations of value and figure position. You can see my notes on the left side talking about the dominant colour combos in previous pastels in the Blurred Boundaries series and that I wrote at the bottom, "thinking oranges." The design I chose to use was the one in the top right corner. I wrote, "walking into the light."
1. Pencil thumbnails trying many different variations of value and figure position. You can see my notes on the left side talking about the dominant colour combos in previous pastels in the Blurred Boundaries series and that I noted at the bottom, “thinking oranges.” The design I chose to use was the one in the top right corner. I wrote, “walking into the light.”

 

2. Drawing up the figure in charcoal on Wallis paper. This is the second time I have used this figure in a painting. The first time was in Blurred Boundaries #4 which is a vertical pastel. Now I have flipped the paper into a horizontal orientation. I was curious to see if I could get away with cramming the figure in with head partly chopped off and cloth hanging off the edge of the paper.
2. Drawing up the figure in charcoal on Wallis paper. This is the second time I have used this figure in a painting. The first time was in Blurred Boundaries #4 which is a vertical pastel. Now I have flipped the paper into a horizontal orientation. I was curious to see if I could get away with cramming the figure in with head partly chopped off and cloth hanging off the edge of the paper.

 

3. I decided on oranges and it's compliment of blues as the dominant colour combination. Here I start applying an initial layer of pastels. You can see I am not interested in a realistic interpretation of the figure.
3. I decided on oranges and blues as the dominant colour combination. Here I started applying an initial layer of pastels. You can see I am not interested in a realistic interpretation of the figure. I am using Mount Vision pastels.

 

4. A black and white photo of the first pastel layer. I am checking the piece against the original thumbnail. Isn't it interesting how the cloth totally disappears into the background? This is a prime example of where our perception of the brightness of the warm orange tells us that it is lighter than the more subdued, cooler blue. But not so!
4. A black and white photo of the first pastel layer. I’m checking the piece against the original thumbnail. Isn’t it interesting how the cloth totally disappears into the background? This is a prime example of where our perception of the brightness of the warm orange tells us that it is lighter than the more subdued, cooler blue. But not so!

 

5. Adding more pastel all over. Different blues on the left and lights on the right to cover the Belgian Mist paper. I also began adding the colours of blue and orange of background and cloth into the figure to connect them. You can also see the warm colour initially used on the body in the space below the outstretched arm. I've also added that same colour to the cloth along with some red to darken it.
5. Adding more pastel all over. Different blues on the left and lights on the right to cover the Belgian Mist paper. I also began adding the colours of blue and orange of background and cloth into the figure to connect them all. You can also see the warm colour initially used on the body applied to the space below the outstretched arm. I’ve also added that same colour to the cloth along with some red to darken it.

 

6. A black and white photo of the pastel as it stands. You can see that the red I added to the cloth barely darkened it.
6. A black and white photo of the pastel as it stands. You can see that the red I added to the cloth barely darkened it.

 

7. Tentatively, I bring the dark blue up to the orange cloth. I also add some red in areas of the figure.
7. Tentatively, I bring the dark blue up to the orange cloth. I also add some red in areas of the figure.

 

8. Okay, enough of being wishy washy! But you have to understand, I have no plan except for my thumbnail. I am feeling my way along but I realize I am holding back. So out came the charcoal to delineate the figure. It was too fuzzy, too unsure. I also added more colour, boldly, to the figure. Also, you can see some serious mark-making in the blue area of the piece. Yeah! Now we're talking! Can you feel/see the difference??
8. Okay, enough of being wishy washy! But you have to understand, I have no plan except for my thumbnail. I am feeling my way along but I realize I am holding back. So out came the charcoal to delineate the figure. It was too fuzzy, too unsure. I also added more colour, boldly, to the figure. Also, you can see some serious mark-making in the blue area of the piece. Yeah! Now we’re talking! Can you feel/see the difference??

 

9. Checking in with a black and white shot. You can see how much stronger the pastel looks now. Finally, the cloth is standing out from the background!
9. Checking in with a black and white shot. You can see how much stronger the pastel looks now. And finally, the cloth is standing out from the background!

 

10. Now I am cooking with gas! Clearly I am more confident about what I am doing. I am thinking at this point, "Just make the marks - you can always change by going over it if something isn't working. Don't be afraid!" I feel that the orange of the body and cloth are too disconnected from the background even with the blue introduced into the body. It's time to add orange to the background. Gulp! And yet, Wow! It works! I also brought the dark blue into the cloth.
10. Now I’m cooking with gas! Clearly I’m more confident about what I’m doing. I am thinking at this point, “Just make the marks – if something isn’t working, you can always change it. Don’t be afraid!” I feel that the orange of the body and cloth are too disconnected from the background even with the blue introduced into the body. It’s time to add orange to the background. Gulp! And yet, Wow! It works! You can see I also brought the dark blue colour into the cloth.

 

11. Black and white check-in. You can see the visual excitement the pastel marks make on the paper. It's not quite as I envisioned in my thumbnail but it works and that's all that counts.
11. Black and white check-in. You can see the visual excitement the pastel marks make on the paper. It’s not quite as I envisioned in my thumbnail but it works and that’s all that counts.

 

12. I decide I need to meld the figure with the background, as it looks too cut out. I breakup the edges and add more warm colours all over the background. I am really happy with it now! You can see where the series title, Blurred Boundaries, comes into play.
12. I decide I need to meld the figure with the background as it looks too cut out. I break up the edges and add more warm colours all over the background. I am really happy with it now! You can see where the series title, Blurred Boundaries, comes into play.

 

13. One last look at the pastel in black and white.
13. One last look at the pastel in black and white.

 

14. Gail Sibley, "Inscribed - Blurred Boundaries #5," pastel on Wallis paper, 18 x 24 in
14. A few more changes – can you see the tweaks I made? I add my signature and it’s done!
Gail Sibley, “Inscribed – Blurred Boundaries #5,” pastel on Wallis paper, 18 x 24 in

 

Now you have the whole journey; well almost – you didn’t hear the gnashing of teeth or the cussing, or the wild music, or see me sitting staring at the pastel, waiting to figure out what to do next, or my energetic mark making, but I’m hoping you can feel the whole experience in the piece.

 

You know I’d love to hear from you!! Tell me what was most surprising about this whole process.

 

Until next time 🙂

~ Gail

 

Related Posts

Subscribe to the HowtoPastel Blog today!

Take a course

Like my Blogs?

Do you like the blog?

Support HowToPastel and help me to keep creating content to instruct, inspire, and motivate you with your pastel painting. Although I’ve been asked, “How much does it cost to subscribe?” HowToPastel will always be free. Your financial support is completely optional but does go a long way in helping with the cost of running this blog. Thank you!

Comments

8 thoughts on “Blurred Boundaries #5 – a pastel progression step-by-step”

  1. Gail, This is a fascinating exercise! Loved looking at it in the b/w and how the values could be seen or not seen! Great teacher and teaching, thanks. From what I could see in the last 2 frames: 1) you weakened the shadow from the breastbone to the hip, 2) weakened the shadow on the inner left leg, 3) darkened the background from the knee down (right side of pic), 4) added a stronger set of red speckles on the left side. Fun to see the progression, thanks!

    1. So glad you enjoyed seeing the process Laura. And I love how you had a really good look at the final piece and the stage previous to it. 1) Yes, I lightened the shadow area over the hip bone (it showed up as such a dark spot in the bxw photo!) 2) what you noticed is actually a difference in the quality of the photos but well spotted! 3) yes, sort of – what I did do was bring the blue colour over that area thereby linking that area to the area on the left 4) yes – more and brighter red speckles!! There are a couple more things. I’ll wait to see if anyone else picks them out before I spill the beans here!
      Feel free to share the blog with your friends (email or social media!!)

    1. Hey Deb, thanks so much. It’s amazing how helpful those black and white photos are! Hmmmm…video eh. I will have to try it. I am so used to doing a one off demo. This would be different – the lighting would change as I worked on it at different times of day and different days. But then that would be part of it. Maybe I’ll give it a try on my next pastel in the series…..#7…..

Leave a Comment

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Other Related Posts

Headshot of Gail Sibley

Gail Sibley

Artist. Blogger. Teacher.

My love of pastel and the enjoyment I receive from teaching about pastel inspired the creation of this blog. It has tips, reviews, some opinions:), and all manner of information regarding their use through the years – old and new. Please enjoy!

Join the mailing list today to receive exclusive tips, resources and inspiration directly from Gail:

Scroll to Top

Welcome Artists!

Online Courses

Pastels 101

Use this link if you bought the course AFTER Sept 2022

Use this link if you bought the course BEFORE Sept 2022

Pastel Painting En Plein Air

Art Membership

IGNITE! Art Making Members

Love soft pastels??
Then join 7000+ other subscribers and get my tips, reviews, and resources all about pastels... it's FREE! Just enter your name and email address below.

Your information will never be shared or sold to a 3rd party. Privacy Policy