Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pastel Studies - Seriously!

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, I am really enjoying a change of medium at the moment and am exploring pastels seriously. I always thought they were such a messy medium and they can be but I have decided that the mess is worth it. I am giving myself time and space to really experiment. I have been feeling for a while that although oil is such a beautiful and seductive medium so much has already been said with it. I am discovering the versatility of pastel. The soft dreamy blurring effects that have given pastel such a bad name have meant that the medium has been unfairly dismissed, by me as much as anyone. I am becoming its new advocate!

 I am continuing with my anatomy and life studies, but if the pose is long enough (an hour or more) I whip out the pastels and do a portrait. This one was from a two and a half  hour pose.

This model I have drawn before from a different angle. Again it is about two and a half hours of drawing.
I have been preparing my own paper with acrylic paint and pastel primer as I really dislike the mechanical nature of the dots in tradition pastel papers. I prefer to have complete control and the dots are so distracting to the viewer that they interfere.

As always I turn to books to glean any information I can about the medium I am using. I found quite an array of pastel books in the Brisbane Municipal Library and also the Royal Queensland Art Society library. Here is a selection below.

These two books were probably the oldest but the best, with lots of insights into techniques. Reading technical information can save you a lot of time in the long run.

Even the books that seem extremely basic will often have some little nugget of information that can help your own methods. It also helps to be aware of possible pitfalls.

Don't laugh but I found the "Dummies" one very informative. I read the entire text. It is tempting to just read the images and their captions but this just gives a dumbed down version. You have to work your way through the text to really get it.

The centre book here shows pastels from  the Metropolitan in New York. The beautiful work of Mary Cassatt and a surprising Georgia O'Keeffe.

Here is a quote from Georgia.

" It was in the fall of 1915 that I first had the idea that what I had been taught was of little value to me except for the use of my materials as a language - charcoal, pencil, pen, and ink, watercolour, pastel and oil. I had become fluent with them when I was so young that they were simply another language that I handled easily. But what to say with them?... I began with charcoal and paper and decided not to use any colour until it was impossible to do what I wanted to do in black and white. I believe it was June 1916 before I needed blue."

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