Monday, August 30, 2010
My next project will be two oil paintings. I'm going to try working on two at once and see how that goes. Since I work in lots of layers and each layer has to dry overnight, sometimes a painting session is pretty short so two paintings will keep me busy! This is very likely a bad idea, but we'll see.
One of the paintings is my first commission for my venture into pet portraiture. "Patches" is a sweet little dog who has sadly passed away. It will be an honor to paint her as the finished piece will be an important keepsake for her "mom." Also I will earn $250 for the cat shelter that I donate to. Patches is mostly black with just a little white on her chin and chest, so the color will be quite a challenge.
The other painting will be of three rabbits. I have a frame that is pretty wide and has fancy carving. I thought it would look good with an old-fashioned picture of the rabbits. I began drawing it last night and I really got engrossed in the task. The rabbits are pretty much completely drawn but I still need to decide what to do with the background. I still find drawing the most fun medium of all.
Friday, August 27, 2010
I believe I am now done with my portrait of Aslan. (The photo is shockingly blue, the original not so.)
After rubbing out the shadow underneath him (which I thought was too dark), I re-did the shadow and surrounding background, then re-established the fringes of fur falling over it. I added a bit of black soft pastel on his back and strengthened the highlight in his left eye. Whiskers were the final touch.
Happily, I was proud to sign my piece, with the initials "SPS" after it, designating my new signature status with Sierra Pastel Society. This may be one of the five pieces that I use for my application to the Society of Animal Artists which is due in mid-October.
A while ago I mentioned that I was making a polymer clay bear head for a bracelet. Thought you might like to see the finished piece, so here it is! I dotted the piece with glass and stone cabochons then embroidered seed beads all around. This bracelet definitely makes a statement! Just not sure what the statement is.
By the way, I got the beautiful vintage glass cabochons from http://www.spendorintheglass.net/ and you might want to take a look. They have great vintage glass items - beautiful and unusual!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Just as a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so a painting of a million strokes begins, progresses, and ends with single ones.
Here's the beginning of "Aslan" which promises to be a painting of very many strokes indeed.
With animal paintings I always begin with the eyes so that I have someone to talk to as I paint!
I did a smaller version of this same design a year ago when I was beginning pastel. I painted small portraits of different cats on different types of pastel paper to get a taste of the various choices. The small version of Aslan was on sanded paper which I didn't like AT ALL. It was way too messy with so much dust and it ate away at the patels with lightning speed. This time I'm using Pastelmat, continuing my investigation of this paper.
For the design around Aslan, I blocked in the color of the pattern then added the background color in wide striipes of green and brown. For the texture, I added tiny strokes of different colors over the ground color.
Several hours later, here's where I am. I have the background design in and have done some work on the cat. The background and cat's face is all done with pastel pencil. But I blocked in some preliminary color on the body with my Polychromos hard pastels. I really like these pastels. The set includes 7 gradations of cool grays and 7 gradations of warm grays - perfect for this cat.
At this point I discovered a problem. The smaller version I did last year worked with this pattern in the background, but I don't feel that this is working very well. I pulled out last year's piece and discovered that in that piece the background color was solid and the stripes were in the pattern. Yikes! I have it backwards - striped background and solid pattern. I like the original version a lot better. But clearly at this point I'm stuck.
It seems like it wouldn't make much difference, but in the older painting I faded the background above and behind the cat to a solid color, which worked well with the solid ground but won't work with the solid pattern. Hmmm. This is a problem that I'll have to solve, but at this point I don't have any idea how.
I've done more work on the cat, adding detail with pastel pencil.
I needed the mouse to stand out, so I made him red. But now I have a color scheme problem. How can I make the red fit? Red is related to the brown in the background and in the cat's fur, but it doesn't seem like enough. Something to ponder.
Meanwhile, I'm having trouble with the area behind and above the cat. I'm thrown because I thought I was doing what I had done in my earlier painting, but inadvertantly introduced a crucial difference.
I had trouble with the shadow under Aslan. My hope was that after several layers of pastel - there are four layers of pastel pencil over the background pattern - I could add a glaze with a soft pastel. But this was not the case. Apparently enough of the texture of the Pastelmat remains that it scratches pigment from the soft pastel unevenly. I'll have to do a separate experiment and see if I can eventually get a glaze if I have enough pastel built up on the Pastelmat.
I have a lot of major problems to solve - coming up with an integrating color scheme, getting the shadow under Aslan the correct hue and value, and what to do with the background behind and above the cat.
Friday, August 20, 2010
The next town up the road is a quaint little foothills community with a monthly "art walk" on Main Street. Businesses decorate with the work of local artists and set up on the sidewalk to promote their wares and services. Visitors enjoy the artwork and a sort of business "open house" at the same time.
This month I am happy to have the opportunity to display 9 of my paintings in one of these business. When I got there this afternoon the business owner asked me if I had tags for the paintings showing their price. (Selling isn't required for this event.) As I was hanging the paintings in a nice little display I was remembering creating each one and how satisfying the process had been. All the pieces are of animals and I was feeling the natural appeal of the subjects.
Sell them? Part with them? My babies!?!?
I said I would return tomorrow with tags with the names and media and, for those that I decided to put up for sale, the price. But I doubt that I'll put prices on more than one or two. Perhaps as time progresses and I have more "inventory" I'll be more receptive to the prospect of parting with them. In the meantime, I'm happy if people simply enjoy my work.
Selling ones work can be a mark of success. But I suppose that the face of success depends in part on why one paints. If one paints to sell, then selling is surely a mark of success. There is also painting for shows, in which case ribbons are the mark of success. I must admit that, although I seek affirmation in shows that my work is quality work, I paint for myself. Success is communicating back to the viewer the love of the animal that I put into the piece.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
I didn't post a photo of my latest animal fairy yet, so here she is - Emeralda! As you can see, she's a mouse fairy. I used bigger glass eyes on her than I have on my other animal fairies and I think it works well for her. Her headdress has a small peacock feather in it, and just in front of the feather, though it doesn't show well in this photo, is a beautiful emerald green square crystal drop from an old, broken piece of jewelry. I split her wings into an upper and lower pair and she's pulling her lower right wing forward so you can see how beautiful it is.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
- Lines transfer very well. My process includes completing a careful drawing before I begin the pastel and transferring the drawing to the pastel paper by tracing it, going over the back of the tracing paper with graphite, then placing the tracing right-side-up on the pastel paper and going over all the lines with a stylus. On velour paper, the transferred lines are light, fuzzy, and thick, so it's hard to preserve a lot of detail from the initial drawing. I found that transferring on Pastelmat requires a light touch with the stylus or I get a line that is too dark and a little tricky to cover with the pastel, but the lines are sharp and nice and thin.
- Seemingly untold layers of pastel will adhere to the paper.
- There is a negligible amount of dust. Dust also isn't a problem with velour paper, but I can't stand the amount of dust that I get on sanded paper.
- Pastel pencils leave a lot of pigment on the paper, as opposed to very little on the velour paper.
- Blending is very easy, either with the pastels themselves as I applied them, or by lightly rubbing with my finger.
- Fur looks incredibly soft on this paper.
- The paper will take many layers.
- There is virtually no dust.
- "Washes" work really well once I have a few layers of pastel on the paper. It looks that the pluses for Pastelmat outnumber those for velour paper, but this wash thing is very important to me. I found washes impossible on the Pastelmat.