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Pears on Plate: pastel 8x8 inches

, 14:03 - Permalink


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

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


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.

Buddleia Visitor: pastel 8x8 inches

, 14:55 - Permalink

I have spent a few days exploring how to get more texture into my pastels and bring them away from the clean,clear-cut look that they tend to acquire on pastelMat. There's nothing wrong with PastelMat....I have a whole pack of new sheets just in....but I need this change of direction for some work. This butterfly picture of a Peacock grazing on buddleia was done on a sheet of previously-worked PastelMat, which was brushed off and then coated briskly with Art Spectrum Colorfix clear primer. I used a bristle brush to do this and just stroked the medium over the surface in a fairly random manner. Some of the brush strokes eventually became integrated with the picture.

Working pastel on top was quite a different experience. It was near-impossible to blend with a finger. Quite a lot of pastel-dust went into the grooves of the texture and quite a bit dropped off....but a good spraying with fixative sorted this out, to provide base colours. The buddleia flowers were worked in the same way as I always do, but the results were more subtle. The textured surface broke up the passage of the pastel and occasionally created surprises. The central section where the butterfly is was deliberately textured more carefully, since the insect has a fair amount of detail.

Having completed most of the picture I put it aside for a few days because I couldn't decide whether it was finished or not. Eventually I added a little more mid blue-green to the central region behind the butterfly and called it done. More subtle, dustier, even a slightly faded look. Certainly the rougher texture eats pastel, but at this moderately small size that isn't too much of a problem.

I have another similar-sized piece now finished and may post that next time. My Uart paper samples have arrived and I'll be exploring a couple of those shortly.

This butterfly painting is retained for exhibition in December and won't be going on DailyPaintWorks as an auction item....at least, not just yet.

Trying new surfaces

, 21:50 - Permalink

I don't have a finished painting this week. I have a couple of partly finished ones but no desire to share those right now. Having worked for a long time with the PastelMat surface, I am feeling the need for a change....more experimenting.

Using the same surface all the time can start to make pastel paintings look too similar. It is a great one for detail and works well for the small pieces of 6 or 8 inch square/rectangles that I tend to do. Several weeks ago I went through some old digital files and found one of a pastel picture that I had done on a piece of mount (or mat) board, hand- textured with Art Spectrum primer. I recall the fact that the rougher texture took large bites out of my pastels, but the colour went down more intensely. Unfortunately the original work doesn't seem to be around any longer.

"Cooking Apples": size about 10x7 inches.

I've also got some samples of Uart paper on order. It is beginning to appear now in several online UK stores and I was especially interested in the various grit-grades offered; 240 being the grittiest and 800 being the finest. It is also capable of taking wet washes, so multimedia work can be done on it if wished. PastelMat will also cope with fluids, although the effect is a little different from that produced on the grit-type papers.

I'll be playing around then, for a little while, to see how it all goes.

"Rudbeckias"; pastel on pastelmat card 6x6 inches

, 11:19 - Permalink

This is the final square of yellow pastelmat card that I've been using up over the past six weeks or so. That's not to say I won't be doing any more small ones, but just for the time being I am moving my concentration onto some other pastel projects. It is listed here at auction at DailyPaintWorks.com


I enjoy using pastelmat card, it is extremely good for close detailed work, especially when you think that pastel is not an ideal medium for fiddly little details. The card surface tends to create a dense and dusty colour when pastel is applied, the colour is vivid and the strokes go on very smoothly. However, I feel a need to go and explore some other surfaces. I am re-ordering myself some Art Spectrum Colorfix sheets and also considering some rougher home-made surfaces like pastel-primer on mountboard. It is easy to stay in the same comfort-zone but after a while the paintings begin to all look very similar.

I found using watercolour on white pastelMat card very useful for starting sky paintings. Art Spectrum paper is geared for multimedia use and also has a different tooth. I have a pot of AS clear pastel primer and have often used it to prime old failed watercolour sheets and boards. When used thickly, the texture created is considerable. Pastel paintings don't tend to have much "body" to them because they are, literally, made of dust; and thus may require some kind of underpainting or preparation to give a bit of extra dimension. We'll see how it goes.

Sun and Shadows: pastel 6x6 inches

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Last week was a wipe-out, due to virus, so very little done. This pastel however was completed before then, and I have now photographed it for this blog and DailypaintWorks.


I have a number of ideas for more of these, but am also trying to get one or two larger ones completed for a local group exhibition in December. Plus, chasing down framing. Framing would be easy if it wasn't for (a) glass and (b) the fact that quite a few of my pieces are square and therefore classed as "not standard". Then, I'm not a standard person, so that's rather appropriate.

At the same time, I am slowly teaching myself lino cutting and printing. Now, why would I want to do that? haven't I got enough to do? (yes; but it won't stop me). The thing with lino prints is often the simplicity of colour-scheme. One, two or even just three-colour linoprints can catch the attention of the viewer. Brash multicolours not necessary. Lino prints also encourage simplifying a subject; after all, it has to be carved out of the lino and, having spent three hours yesterday carving out a 12 x 8 inch panel I can say that I welcome the simplification. (Mind you, the experts produce some extraordinarily detailed works on lino; cutting time must be hours and hours). There are some subjects I wouldn't consider for a pastel painting, but would attempt them on lino because of the tendency toward more graphic presentation. The opportunity to consider other subjects for a different medium, in a different way, is therefore a nice mental change from the pastel work. You're unlikely to see any of my lino stuff for quite a while, though!

Little Posy: pastel 6x6 inches.

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Quickish pastel this week, a little group of salvaged asters and tagetes placed in a miniature pot. On pastelmat card, 6x6 inches.


Heavenly Dahlias: pastel, 6x6 inches

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I came across this very old church building in Devon, England with faded pink-painted walls and right next to a colourful display of summer dahlias. The scene stuck in my mind for a long time afterwards. I recall it here to the best of my ability, in pastel, with vivid orange and deep purple-red flower-heads.


Nasturtiums: pastel 6x6 inches/

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Another small pastel completed during yesterday and this morning:


Little Faces: pastel 6x6 inches

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Continuing with another 6-inch square format, and back with flowers again....one of my favourite colour combinations is mauve and yellow; and these pansies have plenty of both. It is quite mentally demanding working with chunky pastels on a small square area like this, and it is a time when my spare box of pastel fragments comes in handy, for smaller details. This picture was worked on pale grey PastelMat, covered with a light wash of green watercolour before starting.


"Shed and Companions": pastel 6x6 inches...(now Sold)

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Brief change of scene, but still sticking to small format, this little shed looked very picturesque when first spotted; complete with delicate scented floral companions. Working this small with pastel can be challenging, especially when it comes to smaller detail, but in fact the thickness of pastel sticks helps to avoid overdoing things. You just can't fiddle that much, as you can with a size 5/0 brush. I have considerable respect for people like Karen Margulis who works pastels at ACEO size (3.5 x 2.5 inches)....I'm afraid these days I have to resort to a magnifying glass as well as ordinary glasses when things get this small, otherwise I would miss the pastel-paper entirely.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/601870 SOLD.

Seagull Beach: pastel 14x14 inches approx.

, 20:13 - Permalink

Have spent a week working periodically on this one. Another cloud and seascape picture using white pastelmat card with a starter wash of blue watercolour on it. Returned to square format because I wanted some extra height above the sea-line for the large cloud. I will put it up at DailyPaintWorks but am planning to retain it for a local exhibition later in the year.

"Sunset Around the Corner": pastel 4x6 inches

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Here's a little one, completed this afternoon, on PastelMat card: at auction, starting $28.


Bank Holiday and website changes

, 09:00 - Permalink

I've got a new pastel work coming along, but am now heading into the late summer English Bank Holiday period, during which other duties have to take priority. I expect to still get a few hours in at the easel, though.

My old main website christinederrick.com is coming to the end of its days. Time and technology has marched on and, a few weeks ago, I saw my website on a smartphone for the first time. It looked muddled and did not present itself very well. I have always constructed my own, before moving on to configurable CSS templates; but now it is becoming more and more difficult and time-consuming, trying to create a website that fits on all devices, from desktop to mobile-phone.

I have thus decided to really pare things down and go for a one-page website. I am already using two platforms to place my artwork on (DailyPaintWorks and Original-Art-Under100), so can no longer see the point in maintaining the current collection of pages and galleries of pictures. This blog is capable of holding a number of pages if required; so I am going to make more use of that.

I expect to have the new one-page site up and running in a matter of days. It will be easier for me to maintain but still allow links to all the necessary places.

Rain At Sea

, 16:48 - Permalink

Pastel on pastel mat card, 13x9 inches (32x24cm approx). On auction at DailyPaintWorks.com:


I am finding ways to work on the sheets of white Pastel-mat card that I have had in store for many months now. White is not often a good surface to work on directly because the colours allow little flecks of white to show through. However this can be useful in some circumstances. I have found that painting the surface with watercolour creates a nice base to start skies on; this was done with the previous picture "Summertime Haze", so I'm continuing with the idea.

Summertime Haze: pastel, 13x9 inches

, 13:45 - Permalink

New pastel picture, just finished today:


Lindisfarne Castle: ink and gouache resist, 16x12 inches

, 18:47 - Permalink

Before I go on with the picture, I am sorry to say that I must now permanently disable the comments. The spam continues to creep in and I really don't have the patience to spend all my day at the computer checking every single one for authenticity. So, comments off....permanently.

Lindisfarne Castle is another experimental ink and gouache resist. I actually did two....the first one messed up with too much black in the sky. It is a hit and miss technique because although you paint over the white and pale areas with white gouache, to protect them from the black ink, you never quite know whether you've painted it thickly enough. If it is too thin, the black ink goes right through it and blackens the paper below.

This one worked better, although there are a few grey areas caused by diluted ink getting washed back onto the paper. I painted in the boat masts after the whole thing was dry.

The best subjects for this kind of work appear to be ones with strong form, design and contrast. The knack lies in finding them and then getting the design onto the watercolour paper. I used Langton 140lb cold pressed for this; just a widely-available paper. The paper chosen has to cope with a lot of water-washing.

One might ask why I don't use masking fluid to cover up the white parts. I suppose I could, but I'd have to spend ages afterwards finding all the bits and peeling them off. White gouache does the job admirably, although of course most of it goes to waste....so instead of buying lots of fiddly little 14ml tubes, I get a big 200ml tube of Pebeo white. I expect there's a white poster paint available that schools buy, probably even cheaper. Masking fluid is also tricky to remove from watercolour paper because it can sometimes pull the surface "nap" off.

I have some more ideas for these ink and gouache resists, so will tackle another one when I can. In the meantime I'm trying to get back to some more cloud paintings.

Loch Assynt, Scotland: oil, 12x9 inches

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Back to Arches oil paper again for this one, because I wanted a softer look to the finished image. Arches oil paper lets you do this because you can make thinner oilpaint washes.....rather like watercolour....and then build more paint on them if you wish to.

Loch Assynt is located in Sutherland, Scotland; bearing above its waters the lonely ruined Ardvreck Castle. I have only visited here once and saw the loch in brilliant sunshine, torrential rain and under bright broken cloud, all in the space of forty minutes. The castle was first built towards the end of the fifteenth century and became a ruin after being struck by lightning in 1795.

In this picture I felt I wanted to get some focus on the castle, so placed the sunlight to the right, with brightly lit water below and darker toned mountain slopes behind. This oil paper still allows you to add thicker paint and this was helpful for the water, where thicker lights could be added over darker, thinner oil-washes.

Glastonbury: Ink on paper 16x11 inches

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Just a complete break for a few days from oil painting, in order to play with something new. I have read several articles on ink and gouache resist techniques but never tried them. They seem to work best with strong shapes and structures, so I dug out a photograph of Glastonbury Tor, famous English landmark, and did a drawing on watercolour paper. The technique then requires the artist to cover over those areas that need to be white in the final picture. The covering is done with thick white gouache paint. Once this is thoroughly dry, the whole picture is painted over with black india ink (waterproof). This must also be left to dry.

When ready, the paper is placed under a cold flow of water and the gouache paint, although covered with ink, will begin to drift off the paper. The ink on top of it will also flow off. Areas that were not painted with gouache will be black ink. However...

The random nature of this process shows that some areas of white will be flecked with black. Also, some thinner patches of gouache will not totally resist the ink and thus may turn quite dark. In my picture, the black patch on the right hand side happened because I did not paint thickly enough with the white gouache.

The overall effect is one reminiscent of a woodcut. The image is stark black and white. It is possible to add colour but the black ink will resist most water-based paints. You might paint over it with thick acrylic, however.

I decided to leave this image alone and not add colour. I may do a second one....it will never come out the same as the first...and try adding colour as an experiment.

A few days ago I carried out another wash for a different subject, which is more complex. It is testing the ability to place black and white areas in the image; sometimes I get it right, sometimes not. The images are far more graphic than "standard" painting; they may help to create new painting ideas for me.

Good fun in between my usual oil paintings.

Cloud Over Heather: oil, 7x5 inches

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Oils on Ampersand gessoboard, 7x5 inches. An interesting-shaped cloud poised over a hillside of heather; actually was part of a larger landscape, but this is what took my eye, hence it was whittled down (mentally) and I painted just the cloud and a piece of land. This one is currently on my own website; it will go up at DPW in about five days' time. Update: link at DPW is here: http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/583976

starting tomorrow 24th July for 7/8days.

Incidentally, since opening the blog again to receive comments, I have already deleted a group of spammers. Please note that ALL comments get moderated manually and deleted manually where considered inappropriate. Spammers' IP addresses will be blocked.

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