Paintings by Christine---News

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Pear on Plate: pastel 8x11 inches

, 09:36

Local exhibition time approaches, a couple of months' time, so I need to over-view my products from the past six to twelve months and decide what to frame up.

Today's pastel is a very simple one; just a pear on a plate. I had been tempted to add a spoon, or even a lump of cream to the plate, but somehow couldn't bring myself to do it. The surface is a sheet of watercolour paper that has been painted over with white gesso. I started the general drawing of the pear and plate with a Conte stick; once the outlines were in place, I began to lightly fill in colour on the pear using a few Rembrandt pastels. For the plate I put down a few blue-greys, and marked in a darker grey for the pear's shadow.
At this time I have been experimenting with using acrylic polymer medium as a fixative and also as a fluid for "painting" the pastel. Bill Creevy's 1990's book "The Pastel Painting Book" contains a number of examples where he has used acrylic medium as a fixative; and Dawn Emerson also talks about the use of acrylic matt medium as a "painting" fluid in her "Pastel Innovations" book.
The thing to keep in mind is that the medium will dissolve the pastel and muss up any patterning or fine detail that you may have laid in; so it's best not to do too much of that. Bill Creevy's aim was to build up pastel layers; you can add dry pastel on top of the acrylic-medium treated work with little problem, when it is dry.

In my case, I was just playing with the technique to see what would happen. After initial pastel layers were put down, I got a soft-ish brush and painted acrylic medium over the pear and over the plate. Now....at the moment I only have the gloss medium. It does work fine, but tends to leave some shiny areas. I will be getting myself some matt medium in due course. When dry, I continued pastelling. I coloured in the background around the plate; initially it was a red-brown with some deep-blue streaks, but I didn't like it and tried to add another colour on top to change it. As a result I filled the tooth of the surface.

So....after brushing a lot off, I painted over it with acrylic medium and left it to dry. Now, the whole picture had been fixed. A thought of further experimentation seized me and I picked up my pot of clear gesso, covering the whole painting with it and creating more tooth.
The rest of the painting was completed by adding the pear's markings with soft Unison pastels; putting in the plate's gold rim and indicating subtle shadowing on what was actually quite a flat plate; and finally going for a complementary deep blue background. In the end I am glad I added more tooth to the surface; and I also proved to myself that it could be done partway through a work.

"Solar Fire": acrylic 12x12 inches

, 10:45

Back to the acrylic experiments, and this one completed last week on a box canvas. Having followed the books of Rolina van Vliet for a while, I have been trying out some of her technique exercises. It is interesting to add colour to a canvas randomly to start with, and then work at building it up into some sort of balanced image. The canvas on this particular work has rather prominent horizontal lines in its weave, which don't always assist when scratching and scraping paint. The lower section was originally very bright orange, so it was toned down by adding a more brownish mix of cadmium red with ultramarine blue; small highlights were then added back on top. All balanced against a black upper corner (mixed from thalo green and magenta, rather than tube black).

In the process of dabbling with acrylics on paper, I remembered that pastels are a good match with acrylic paint. The poor old pastels have been a little neglected of late, but as I had commented earlier, there seem to be fewer Internet buyers for pastels than "paint". I am, however, working on my own little sideline projects and there will be some pastels up here in due time. I'd like to explore combining acrylic underpainting with pastels on top but have to find suitable subjects close to hand....still life is the most obvious choice.

"Patchwork Jazz": acrylic 24x20 inches

, 13:20


Still working on some abstract ideas at the moment. With a wish to move on from the blue theme of the previous productions, I elected to use a random choice of colours to produce this patchwork. At present I am looking at several potential subjects that contain squares and rectangles....they're a little more realistic than abstract....so for the coming days I'll be working on paper, drawing out various designs in pencil and possibly pastel too. Whether I will create them in acrylic, however, is another matter....I still find this paint tricky to work with, with regard to natural subjects such as flowers and landscape. It'll probably be back to oils, where colours tend to be softer and easier to blend where required. My acrylic box is mainly heavy-bodied paint; whether I should gradually move on to liquid formats is something for me to think about, since I have found acrylic inks, for example, to go well with pastel and other line-work. All part of the great exploration.

Dimensions: acrylic on canvas 24x24 inches

, 18:25

An abstract using overlaid squares and rectangles in shadowy shades of deep purple, blues and black, offset with scatterings of silver and accented with creamy-white. This painting almost didn't happen. It began life as a semi-abstract landscape-style layout, which became too dark and was systematically scraped down then overpainted with deep blue-grey. Using the resulting variations in contrast (black to blue-grey and into a steel grey), a patchwork of rectangles was devised, to create an air of mystery and some hidden "dimensions". Most of these were painted with the edge of a knife, pulling and scraping the paint to create colour overlays and light texture. Blues and mauves were mixed with metallic silver paint and the occasional touch of pearlescence.

Outdoor light levels not brilliant for photographs but look ok for the blog; I may repeat the session to try and get a better shot for online gallery use.