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Rudbeckias: Pastel-pencil 7x14 inches

, 11:03

A Slightly different format today. A while ago I used my sets of pastel-pencils to create a starter-drawing for a dandelion painting; Casual Gold (further back in the posts). Over the weekend I got them out again to complete this piece "Rudbeckias". I spent an hour or so outdoors, along with the wasps, making some line drawings in ink of these flowers. Having selected six or seven blooms to draw, I then took the sketches indoors and spent a while selecting five for the final work. I wanted to do a longer, slimmer work that would encompass the flower heads and also allow for the stems. I picked a piece of plum-coloured pastelMat card...tempting to choose black, but I resisted it and used the plum colour to work towards both light (for the petals) and the darker centre.

The initial sketches were worked again in white pastel-pencil on the card surface; not heavily, just enough to indicate the shapes and positions required. I chose to use my Conte and Carbothello pencils for this artwork, both of which are harder in quality than say Derwent or Caran d'Ache. I rather like the dusky finish that these harder pencils give. The colours are not as brilliant in the final effects as chunky soft pastels but I am happy with this. I could add touches of soft pastel if I wished to, later on.

The dark sections of each flower were put in first, working towards the darker petal markings and then on down through orange-reds to the bright yellow tips. It is difficult to make these darks really intense with harder pastel pencils; it is their nature. The stems were worked with touches of purple and green together for the darker parts (purple tends to enliven a rather flat dull green)...and then added to with lighter green. I have a small set of Russian Olki pastels that are very useful for detailed work; the sticks are small and slender, permitting a closer approach to drawn lines. They're very soft, but produce lovely linear marks.

Finally, the background was added using black, dark green, blue and purple pastel-pencils, working in curly swirls and overlaying the colours. A light spray with fixative and the piece is complete. Yes the fixative does darken the colours a little, but it's necessary to fix the pastel-lines because even the dust from hard pastel-points will brush off.

On other things; I have decided to have a go at placing my artwork on ArtWeb.com I've been a member there for four years but never really gotten around to using the system properly. Now that I have quite a bit of work, I've uploaded some for sale at my own section; the link is in the blogroll to the right. My latest pieces usually go online at my own website and also Original-ArtU100.

Pewter Mug and Daisies: 12x9 inches approx

, 18:20

Trying to get back to pastelling after several weeks "downtime". This piece was started last month but put aside due to other interruptions. The pewter mug was set up again and this time I completed the reflections and got the daisies in within a couple of hours. The technique is a somewhat scribbly-hatchy one, adopted from Bill Creevy's pastel-painting book. I used it to create the background in pale green, yellow and purple-grey pencils before overlaying with lighter tones of cream and yellow. Similarly with the mug reflections. Silvery-coloured objects can be difficult to select pastels for, but if it is possible to discern subtle shades of colour (such as greens, blue-greys or ochres) then these can be used to build the patchwork of reflections.

The daisies were, I'll admit, a little rushed. They were already rather tatty so I had to spruce them up a bit. I repeated some of the hatching technique to provide a backdrop for their greyish-white petals.

Six paintings off to exhibition at Backwell, Bristol, tomorrow; for Friday and Saturday openings.

Casual Gold: pastel 9x9 inches approx

, 17:56


After a brief break sorting out framing requirements for this year's exhibition pieces, here is another completed pastel. The work was originally started with Conte pastel pencils on burgundy-coloured PastelMat. I sat with the jar of casually-arranged dandelions for a couple of hours, drawing them in and laying down some general colouring. Conte pastel pencils are much firmer than standard soft pastel sticks; this was an attempt to try drawing the subject in general terms before going in with soft pastels afterwards.
The work was done out of doors in very hot sunshine (too hot, in fact for me)....having acquired the drawing and general colouring, I was forced indoors. The following day was sunless....the next a little brighter, but the dandelions had of course completely changed their gestures in the jar. I used soft Unison pastels to complete the piece, which included inventing the tablecloth and adding a little background greenery from a nearby bush.
This one now awaits framing, ready for a local summer show.

Zinnia in Jar; Oils 6x6 inches

, 14:14


A quick one on this occasion; small still life with zinnia set up and painted over a couple of days instead of my usual couple of hours, due to other home activities. It would have been nice to have more time to spend adjusting the really fluorescent red colouring of this flower, but unfortunately not to be. I completed it in a more simple graphic style and decided to let it rest there. http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-derrick/zinnia-in-jar/618826

Buddleia Visitor: pastel 8x8 inches

, 14:55

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.

"Rudbeckias"; pastel on pastelmat card 6x6 inches

, 11:19

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

https://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/616583

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

, 12:32

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.

https://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/613535

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.

, 15:50

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

https://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/610793

Heavenly Dahlias: pastel, 6x6 inches

, 12:37

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.

https://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/608859

Nasturtiums: pastel 6x6 inches/

, 14:06


Another small pastel completed during yesterday and this morning:

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/606819

Little Faces: pastel 6x6 inches

, 14:59

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.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/606132

Moody Poly: oil on board 6x6 inches

, 07:47

Quick post today; here's a small impressionistic floral, just dried enough to scan.... this polyanthus was brought indoors to paint, during a recent bout of hay-fever when I just couldn't sit out. A quickish painting, to try and capture the deep reds that these flowers have, along with the sharply contrasting dots of yellow. On DailyPaintWorks as an auction, from Saturday 21st, at: http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/552736 Start bid $28.

Spring Blues; pastel 14x11 inches

, 15:30

Having had ten days unable to do any painting, I started back with a rather more experimental piece. This pastel is on Canson "Touch" pastel-card, and a number of things happened to it en route to completion.

On DailyPaintWorks now: $65. http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-derrick/spring-blues/470613

These primroses or polyanthus were a deep blue-purple with white edges on the petals. The initial drawing wasn't satisfactory, due to the fact that a number of the flowers were tightly squashed together and not displaying their yellow centres; so I decided to do them from a "bird's-eye" view.

Eventually the whole group began to form on the paper. I wanted the flowers to stand out from their background.

This was a bit tricky, since the petals were a dark shade and I didn't want to do an all-black background. Pastel grains also tend to stand forward, so in the end I washed over the orangey-brown background pastel with an alcohol wash, which flattened it.

The pastel-card took the alcohol wash very well, so I will remember this for another occasion.

"Spring Trumpets"; oil, 6x8 inches

, 13:59

Another week spent away from the oils, unfortunately, but I hope to be back on them after Monday. In fact, the change of routine took me back to exploring the acrylics box....no small works being done with those, however...and I have been having a few play-hours on some larger canvas. "Spring Trumpets" was considered dry enough to handle today and it has been scanned (not photographed, the light level is poor here today and I prefer to take my photos in daylight).

Oil on canvasboard. The image is at DailyPaintWorks.com, at: http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-derrick/spring-trumpets/451867

"Clematis" : pastel 10x11 inches

, 11:20

While the garden sleeps (well, mine is), the major portion of colourful flowers are found only in the shops. I do have primroses, though, so maybe I'll tackle them again in the coming days. Otherwise it's hands in the purse for a few purchases.

"Clematis" was worked from several photos that I took last year. I was particularly interested in the candle-flame appearance of the closed flowers. I reduced the leaves to little more than green shapes because there would be just too much going on in the picture. A background of magenta and a few reds were laid on the grey Pastelmat paper with hard pastels, to complement the later addition of a dark green background. I didn't put the darks in too heavily, though. The end result is a background of interwoven colours, against the bright lights of the flowers. My harder pastels are mainly Rembrandt and some Winsor and Newton (the latter are no longer produced but can still be found on Ebay and similar sites). Unison's range of soft Dark Jewels are almost indispensable for deep greens and purples.

This painting will go on DailyPaintWorks as from 1st February, for 7 days: http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/500975

Roses

, 17:26

As said earlier, I will be doing my last parcels/packages prior to Christmas very soon; in my last post I said 14th December, I'll extend this to 18th December and no later, for the UK. All other destinations will be early Jan 2016. In the meantime, I've added "Roses on the Wall" to my gallery at Original-Art-Under100.com The price will include the mount and framing.

Roses on the Wall : pastel 10x8 inches £75 inclusive of framing. Link: http://www.original-art-under100.com/artist/chrisd