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Seven Boats: pastel 20 x15 inches approx.

, 16:18 - Permalink

After a brief spell of being below-par, I am now recovered and back on the pictures again. This picture of small boats was started a little while ago and just completed around the same time as the previous post "Summer's Yellow". Much of this work was done in harder Rembrandt pastels and looks more like a drawing than a painting. The sandy-coloured mud and water were both completed in softer pastels, however.

I don't often work this large, but it's quite nice to spread out a little further. There were more boats in the reference photo but I just chose the clearest-looking ones and kept to a small group.

I'm also back working with oils again on small panels; and this week I shall re-open my membership with Daily PaintWorks.

Summer's Yellow: pastel 6x7 inches

, 13:33 - Permalink

Somewhat indisposed right now and unable to do much painting; a couple of weeks from now should be easier. Managed this little one a few days ago, on UART 400-grit paper. The view is taken from a coastal walk done a few short years ago; looking down into a shallow valley en route, to see this white farmhouse nestled amongst sunny trees and bushes.

Lakeside Trees: pastel 15x13 inches approx.

, 11:37 - Permalink

A couple of items completed since last time, here is one of them, although a bit out of season. My local lake-shores always put on a good display in autumn and I have been keeping the photo of this one back for a while, before finally launching out on it. It provided the opportunity to use some of the dull and brighter reds in the pastel-box.

Green Glass and Lemon: pastel 12x12 inches

, 09:40 - Permalink

This piece was done over several days, since I had positioned the items on a sunny window-ledge and wanted to maintain the same light direction. The pastel surface is mountboard, painted with black ink and then covered with clear gesso.

A limited number of pastels were used to make this work. Most of them range around sharp yellows, slightly acid to blue-green and softer mauves. A lot of the drawing and lay-in was done with Rembrandt pastels, which are hard enough to create good clear lines but also soft enough to provide clear and bright colour. The lemon was painted with an experimental method, using dilute acrylic medium as a spray to fix the pastel-grains. This avoided flattening the colour too much and permitted a pastel build-up as a second or third layer.

The final image was rather different than I had imagined it would be, but I am happy with it. Black always creates a rather ethereal quality when up against powdery pastels.

Messing About with Oil Pastels

, 09:23 - Permalink

Oil pastels are a medium that I have dallied with before but never really found my way forward with them. One of the reasons has been a lack of seeing other artists using it, to see their methods and learn from. Also there seem to be very few intermediate-to-advanced books on the subject; apart from one by John Eliot and another by Kenneth Leslie; plus chapters in "The Pastel Book " by Bill Creevy. Youtube tutorials and images are good, but I personally prefer to see a book on the subject and get to grips with the written techniques, view a range of images and just "absorb" and process the info over a period of time. Watching videos is fine, but it's possible to spend all day just sitting down....and I never remember everything in a video, which then necessitates running it again. For me, it's easier to just pick up a book and turn to the sections I want.

One may imagine that oil pastels should look like oils when completed, and in the hands of skilled individuals they certainly have that kind of appearance.....although I don't think they quite get there. Oil pastels are often used with other media, being scribbled over the top of watercolour, or acrylic, for example; in fact they seem better suited to a mixed media approach.

Looking around in various galleries online, they don't seem to be widely employed as a stand-alone medium. There used to be an Oil Pastel Society in America.....that seems to have gone. However....in spite of all this, some artists have taken the medium on board and made it their own, with distinctive imagery and style.

A number of years ago I had a large batch of Sennelier oil-pastels and also Caran d'Ache Neopastels. I had intended to get down to some more serious exploration, but never did, and eventually sold them all on. Now I have a small set of Senneliers again and have started dabbling. The lemon below is on a 6x4-inch canvas-board. It was produced from the Sennelier Discovery set of six oil-pastels.

The half-lemon was simply perched on a table-mat with a mauve-green coloured piece of cloth behind it; nothing spectacular. I added the first outlines and markings, then did a little finger-blending. Over the top of this I added some Liquin impasto and left it to dry for 24 hours. The following day the surface was just about dry and I added more oil-pastel colours to build up the design. Then another light layer of Liquin. Finally, the few details were added with a brush, using oil-pastel scrubbed onto a scrap of paper and Liquin added to it, to create a "paint".

The addition of Liquin tended to dissolve the oil-pastel in some parts and create a rather interesting soft-focus effect. There was a limit to how much I could do with this picture, so it was left alone after day 3.



I did some more experimenting with a box of Pentel Artists oil-pastel (above)......and here I found some barriers. While it was possible to overlay the colours with Liquin, some of them dissolved to produce some mucky colours. Purples and violet were the worst, creating a somewhat unpleasant brown colour when combined with yellow. They are probably ok to use but I wouldn't include them in a more successful serious piece which might possibly sell later on. Whether the Pentels have pigment or dyes, I am not sure but suspect the latter. The simple answer is to use only high-quality oil-pastels, and there aren't that many brands around. Sennelier is the "original"; there's also Holbein (if you can get them) and recently I found out that Mungyo produce a Premium brand that is claimed to be artist-quality as well. You can find the latter on EbayUK, but beware of confusing them with the student-range.

Finally, a couple of experiments on gessoed MDF board:

Sky and Beach: 5 x 3 inches

Sunset: 4x3 inches

So, am I going to follow through with doing more oil-pastels? I don't know yet. I'm still playing with them; it's important to try and make sure they don't look like children's crayon drawings and that means paying more attention to techniques. I probably will add more oil-pastels to my collection, but slowly....my major focus will remain on soft-pastels. Speaking of which, these past few weeks have been spent looking at lemons....next post up, in a short while, a soft-pastel lemon.

Fruit Dish and Spoon: pastel 10x10 inches

, 09:22 - Permalink

This was worked on a sheet of watercolour paper that had been coloured with acrylic paint and then coated with clear gesso. Despite the gesso coating, I found that the paper texture still came through and created a rather more "pitted" surface than I had intended....but nonetheless I decided to complete the picture and accept it as it was.

I had some fun with the fruit. Having set it all up, I photographed it because I knew I wouldn't be able to leave the fruit in the dish overnight. At the end of the first working session (a couple of hours) the fruit had to go back into the fridge! On the next occasion, I took just a few slices of the fruit (peaches) and worked with them for their colour, but had to rely on the photo for their actual positions in the dish from the previous day.

The glass dish is quite an old one, a lovely blue-green colour with frosted panels. I hope to use it again for another still-life at some point.

The spoon was worked with several dark greys and one or two greeny-greys....in fact I found it more interesting to do than the dish, and have now generated some further ideas about metallic surfaces for future set-ups.

Queen's Parade, Brandon Hill, Bristol: pastel 12x12 inches

, 11:39 - Permalink

A subject like this is quite a step away from my usual stuff but it made a change and allowed me to get a break from intense, close-up work. Having said that, it took me a while to do all the windows....

This pastel is on Sennelier card, a warm sienna colour. It tends to be quite toothy and in some ways wasn't quite so ideal for some of the detailed parts, but it worked nicely in the grass and tree areas. The terrace of buildings, in reality, has been painted in various colours (thankfully none of them too brash) and add an extra dimension to a scene which would ordinarily be just a little drab during an English winter.

I used hard pastels to start the work with and also had to make a few starter attempts on the angle and positioning of the buildings---they start to slope downhill at one point. This layout I did at home, would have been tricky outdoors. The evening glow was built up with a layer of pastel pencils to start with, then soft pastel added on top. I resorted to hard conte sticks and pencils to get the windows and doors marked out. The park grass and trees were kept a little looser in working.

Snow on Ben Lawers : oil 7x5 inches.

, 12:04 - Permalink

Back to painting; this small oil on Ampersand "Gessobord" is a little scene that I have had in mind to do for a long time, but never managed to decide the best format until now. I was fortunate to photograph Ben Lawers in Perthshire, Scotland, at a time when it had a covering of snow, accompanied by a long, low and rather striking cloudbank. The top of it is seen here across two steep-sloping ranges of dried grasses that were in deep shadow. The moon was also in view but I decided not to include it on such a small painting, focusing instead on the snowy slopes.

Colours used; alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow, cadmium red, cadmium orange, french ultramarine, titanium white.

Update frequency changes

, 12:47 - Permalink

In February I shall be taking a long break from DailyPaintWorks.com membership and therefore, for the foreseeable future, there will be no new paintings posted to my gallery on that site. The usual updates on this blog, for DPW entries, will cease with immediate effect. Nothing is wrong....but at this time I simply can't keep up with the ongoing pressure of trying to paint something on a daily basis. Over the next few months I am also going to be caught up in a fair amount of house renovation; attempting to paint in anything like a serious manner will just be impossible.

Posts here will continue, but only when I have a piece of work finished. I would like to cut down on the plethora of little sketchy pieces and look at completing just a handful, over the next six months or so. There is little point in amassing a body of work, only to have it stored in boxes because no-one is interested in viewing pastels, or graphite, or whatever that just happens to NOT be on canvas. I am looking at new pastel techniques and want to be able to play with them without the pressure of completing a "finished" work. I'm also contemplating some quite different subject material and therefore don't want the bother of a daily painting "must post something" hanging over me.

Painting is a heavily intellectual exercise. Sometimes I just want to climb down from it and be creative at a lower level. I've dragged out an old rag rug and am gathering bits and pieces to finish it off. The work doesn't tax me as greatly as painting. The problems to solve are less demanding. It's....just easier, less tense, with fewer disappointments.

Winter Wall: oil on paper 12x9 inches

, 10:58 - Permalink

Have been waiting for this one to dry before handling for photograph. The original source reference was actually an autumn view with rather dull greeny-brown hills and mud, so I decided to winter-ise it. The stone wall slopes away to the right down a very steep hill and in fact my later photos in that area provide a few interesting possibilities for a larger painting. There is also a pastel of this same scene in progress; I haven't worked on it for a couple of weeks because I now have flu and am pretty much incapable of major focus for any serious painting.....so it will have to wait.

Winter Wall is on Arches oil paper, specially produced for handling the characteristics and properties of oil paint; it does not allow bleed-through to the back, permits thin washes and the application of impasto paint, and provides a smooth surface rather than the toothiness of board or canvas. It can be framed with a mountboard, or affixed to a suitable acid-free panel and framed directly without glass. The paint can be varnished, just as if it were on canvas.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/652277

Cloudscape, North Wales: oil 7x5 inches

, 11:54 - Permalink

I'm working on one or two more demanding pastels at the moment, so have backed off further small ones and returned to oils for a while. This one is a small 7x5 inch picture on gessoed MDF panel, with rainstorm clouds and green shadowed landscape.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/647225

Somerset Rhyne: pastel 10x11 inches approx.

, 21:04 - Permalink

(not for sale)

I'm using some new pastel techniques, to try and improve the way I start a picture and get colours laid down as a foundation to build on. For some years I've started with a standard pastel-paper or card, in the usual manufactured colours; but now I'm playing around with re-coating and re-colouring old failed works. The picture above was made on a sheet of pastel card that had once borne a fairly dull and ordinary green landscape. I scrubbed off a lot of the pastel with a 3-inch decorator's brush, then washed turps over it to fix the resultant green-grey colour. Once it was dry I brushed a coat of clear Winsor & Newton acrylic gesso over it.

The landscape was marked in with a square-ended hard conte stick. After this, areas were filled in loosely with lots of hatched lines, using other coloured conte sticks and the edges of medium-hard Rembrandt pastels. From here I set about developing the trees and grasses, with more lines and hatches. The willow-trees in my locality exhibit many tangled branches and twigs, so line-work was very appropriate for them. This was autumn/winter, so the trees were bare but often display reddish-browns and mauves on their branches, when seen in weak sunlight.

The steep green bank was the hardest object to create. These moorland rhynes ("reens") are often in deep cuttings, edged with reeds, trees and sloping fences. This bank had been shorn of all its reeds and was sporting a haphazard collection of dry grass, mud and green tufts...none of it particularly thrilling to paint, so I decided to just keep it simple.

Softer pastels were not brought in until the second session of work. I deliberately avoided them until I was happy with all the line-work and hatching. Softer colours were used for the yellow grasses, the distant tree clump, and to add rusty-reds to twig-tips. The sky was kept simple and a light-source created to hint at a hidden sun. Finally, two swans added at the river-bend, using the edge of a hard grey-white Rembrandt pastel.

Buddleia Visitor: pastel 8x8 inches

, 09:44 - Permalink

Posted a while back, now at DailyPaintWorks for seven-day auction:

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/643379

"Glass Eggcup": pastel 10x10 inches

, 19:48 - Permalink

Pastel on pastelmat card; although the image is 10x10 inches (25x25cm approx), it has been slightly cropped here because I had to fit it into my scanner (which is only A4 size, or 8 inches across). The bottom edge was omitted but it is actually just ochre-yellow pastel.

DailypaintWorks entry date: will update this post when image has been uploaded; this should happen around 6th or 7th January. Oops! Almost forgot; http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/640261

This work was completed in early December but I had not got around to photographing/scanning it. At the time, the light-levels in my house were dreadfully poor during the daytime, due to thick cloud and drizzly rain. I set this still-life up on top of the fridge, where light was picked up through a small south-facing window. I completed the painting by resting my work-board's top edge on the fridge-edge, and remained standing for the two and a half hours it took to do.....no room to put an easel. I added a further twenty minutes the following day for minor details. The end result is very subdued, courtesy of a limited palette to match the limited strength of daylight. The glass eggcup is quite old and has been around the house for many years.

I have started 2017 with a landscape, still under way, to come on here when completed. (nb sorry, comments not accepted at this time due to excess spamming).

Yellow Gourd; pastel 8x8 inches

, 18:54 - Permalink

Last post before Christmas. An experimental piece on roughly textured paper, which is a piece of used PastelMat textured with clear gesso. A greeny-yellow gourd set against a contrasting magenta-coloured sheet of paper.

This one will eventually get onto DailyPaintWorks after Christmas, and I'll update this post with the link. UPDATE:

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/638166

Starts 31st December 2016.

(nb I regret that comments to this blog are suspended due to excessive spamming. Trackbacks however are on).

RedBubble gallery

, 12:18 - Permalink

Many years back I had a few small successes with prints and cards on Zazzle. These days it is a very overstuffed site, with zillions of products and the artist has a very tiny chance of being found. I may still go back there; but at present I am concentrating on a new account at RedBubble.com

Not so many products, but that suits me because I honestly don't think my pictures are suited to trousers, jumpers and baby rompers.

I am here; http://www.redbubble.com/people/krisdee

At present there are only three images; it takes time for me to work out what might suit and prepare the images for upload. I hope to get a few more pictures up there in due course, probably during the Christmas holidays.

I do have other cards available, on my main website, http://www.christinederrick.com/cardsandprints.htm; these are six-inch square ones, and I have these available at home to post out. RedBubble unfortunately doesn't seem to do square cards.

The 15th December will be my last day for posting out anything, anywhere, until early January. I'll continue with blog entries for a week or so until close to Christmas and then......zzzzzzzzz......for a few days.

"Coast": acrylic 24x16 inches

, 13:14 - Permalink

This picture is in my OriginalArtUnder100.com gallery

I spend a lot of time on pastels and after a while I need to just go away and play with something else. I have found that acrylics don't bend to my natural tendency for detail; the more I push my luck, the worse things get. So instead, I attempt to take a more casual approach to them....scrub the paint around a bit...paint over old failed acrylics...chuck on some texture-paste...get out the Nancy Reyner book Acrylic Illuminations, gather up the gels and metallics and just have fun, without any "saleable" end product in mind.

"Coast" is a picture that had actually been thought about for some while. In early 2016 I took photos of a local coastline. While brooding over them some days later I was attracted to one that seemed to divide the landscape up into strips. Each one had something different in it, like water, mud or grass. I noted it and copied the file over into another "possibilities" folder on my desktop. Last week I pulled the image out again, and decided that it was time to do something.

I rarely work large; and even this size canvas at 24x16 inches is considered only modest by today's abstract painters. I am not noted for being a speedy painter, however this work was pretty much finished over three sessions, totalling around 6 to 7 hours. I worked out various textures for each strip; the grass at the bottom was done with high-solid gel gloss while, further up, the mid-distance was made with sandy texture-paste. Once completed, everything was left to dry for a few days. Adding the paint came next; I wanted to re-create the typical blue-greys and pinky browns of a coastal "tide's out" view, but add touches of shine with pearlescent white. The shimmery paint was skimmed over the ridges of dried gloss medium to resemble wet mudflats, while thin lines were put in at the horizon to catch hazy sunlight.

Some while after completing it, I realised that texture was also something I was seeking further in my pastel pictures; using thicker primer and experimenting with grainy surfaces. Some of the acrylic media are capable of being used for pastel work, such as micaceous iron oxide and sandy paste....something I can think about further in the coming weeks.

Run-Up to Christmas: and Tomatoes

, 18:10 - Permalink

As we head out of November into the last month of the year, I tend to slow down a bit with painting. Photographing new work becomes more awkward, due to the low light levels outdoors (I always photograph outdoors if I possibly can). Posting purchased work also becomes more frazzled during the build-up to Christmas, as the post office handles ever more parcels. Delivery abroad has lots of cut-off dates. I may have one more entry for DailyPaintWorks prior to Christmas, but if not then activity will resume in early January.

This past week I have completed a small pastel still-life (more or less), just a little tidying-up to do before attempting a scan or photo. In stark contrast to this, I returned to my acrylic box and almost finished off a 24x16 inch canvas......very rare for me, these days....that too needs some alterations but it was a refreshing change from dry media.

I will soon be starting to sort out my harder pastels....a recent purchase of 90 Rembrandt sticks now necessitates an overhaul of my "hard" box and removal of any dye-based pastels that have been lurking for some years. I use Unison as my softest, along with Daler-Rowney; Rembrandts are somewhat harder than these and are very good for "cutting back" into soft pastel when a colour change is required or a section needs reworking. There aren't that many hard pastels available in the UK....Rembrandt fills the role very well. I'm also about to test out some Koh-I-Noor Toison d'Or sticks.

Finally.....continuing with experimental hand-textured surfaces, the tomatoes picture below was worked on a piece of acid-free mountboard, first painted with a light coat of ochre acrylic, then a layer of Winsor and Newton clear gesso. No granular texture such as pumice or sand, just the gesso. The work was lightly fixed at several stages, with a final light spray at the end.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/629261 starting at $38.

This will be the last for 2016, on DailyPaintWorks, but I'll be continuing with new work during December.

Pears on Plate: pastel 8x8 inches

, 14:03 - Permalink

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/625068

After last week's brightly coloured apple on Uart paper, this week's fruit is a little more sombre. It is also the first piece that I have worked on a hand-textured sheet of mountboard. The board was coated with a couple of layers of clear gesso, using a bristle brush. No grains of pumice or other particles, just gesso. There is enough tooth created by the gesso to hold the pastel very well. (another idea from Karen Margulis' blog!). Working on such a surface was quite a different experience from PastelMat. The board is firm and you can push pastel over it without fear of ruckling up a paper surface. It also sands your pastels down, but the result is a much more painterly effect, no hard edges and not much opportunity for fiddling details.

The pears themselves were a soft golden brown with patches of green and muted highlights. The plate below them is made of glass. Light is coming from top right (the plate was on a window ledge in natural light, albeit rather dull). I did need to spray the picture at a couple of stages and also tap off loose dust but it has all held together very well.

I like this rough surface and have completed a further picture which will go up in a couple of week's time.

Fruit of Autumn: pastel 6x6 inches

, 15:15 - Permalink

Here's a small pastel painting on Uart grade 240 paper, which is the roughest of all the Uart grades.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/622529

Certainly eats the pastels, but you get some good rich colouring as the paper grabs the pastel in greater amounts. I've just got trial/sample sheets at the moment but hope to order some fullsize sheets very soon. There is a wavy type of "grain" to the paper which becomes visible as soon as pastel goes onto the surface; but it is not unpleasant and I expect to find various ways of coping with it. The paper itself is a kind of grey-beige colour and will accept wet media, so there's plenty of opportunity to experiment with wet underpaintings.

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