Paintings by Christine---News

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Three Red Onions: pastel 8x6 inches approx

, 16:44

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With plenty of red onions still around at home, I decided to continue the theme, this time taking the soft pastels to work with. I recently acquired a full set of Sennelier iridescent pastels and these onions offered a good opportunity to try a few of them out.

The skins are pinkish-purple in general but there are also shades of metallic, coppery, bronze, even orange in them. As with most of the iridescent colours, they don't photograph too well (if at all) and remain elusive in reproduction. But they can add an interesting dimension to a piece of work.

This was a slightly unfortunate choice of pastel-paper, being an oddment from my drawer; it was a sheet of watercolour paper painted with black micaceous iron oxide. I've used mic.iron oxide fairly successfully in the past for pastels, but on this occasion I could probably have done without the extra sparkles and the pitted surface. Having started, I decided to complete it and in the end it was quite satisfactory; it might well be used to produce a further onion picture in similar style and colouring.

The pinkish-purple Unison pastels were pulled out for this painting, and worked along with two of the iridescent pastels that had similar colouring....a pale orange-peach shade and another with a kind of buff-cream colour. The two blended well to create some delicate new shades. The darkest patches of skin were almost black, but not quite black...I had to work in a very dark purple-red and combine it with a black pastel to push it as far as possible....towards black, without being actually black....difficult to explain as well as do. The onion on the right was especially awkward, to ensure it didn't merge with the black paper.

Finally a background was needed, along with a base. The onions had been set up without any thought to their surroundings, so I worked with harder Rembrandt pastels and just added a mesh of coloured squiggles. The morning's exploration of iridescent pastels now over, I put the work aside and make some small sample squares from the other colours, just to see what they looked like. I will have to think now how I can use some of the other colours in further pastel subjects.

Right now, I don't have any major pieces approaching completion, but am working on an oil seascape "experiment", along with some pencil drawings that may form the background for a floral work, so in time I'll write about those when more progressed.

"Red Onions": Conte pastel 8x9 inches approx

, 13:02

... Having given the Neocolors a run, I'm now back with the Conte pastel pencils, trying them again with water-washes on white PastelMat card. A group of red onions has caught my attention and I'm exploring the colour-schemes in them. With a relatively limited range of colour in Conte pastel pencils (and I have all of them), I had to just play with and overlay what was available, to try and get some of the elusive shades. The skins have an iridescent sheen to them and are tricky to analyse. I've also drawn these with softer pastels this week, and will post more on that next time.

There are shades of orange-ochre, purples, and a deep cherry-red (almost black) on these onions and they were not easy to capture precisely, so I aimed for what I could and make drawings of them, rubbing the pastel-dust lightly with a finger in places to spread. The watercolour work was done to place the onions on some sort of base....in reality this was a white window-cill with light coming from the side, but I didn't want to labour the washes too much because PastelMat permits rapid spreading.

Having established a few shadows in pastel-pencil (the daylight was very muted) I used the watercolour for reflections on the shiny window-ledge; when dry, they were painted again in ultramarine blue. When dry again, the left-most shadow was skimmed lightly with a dark grey pastel-pencil and rubbed lightly to spread the colour.

As well as fruit, I would like to try more glass items with this method, since the combination of transparent watercolour and overlaid pastel seems to suit the materials. Eventually I hope to produce a few more substantial works with this method, but at present it seems well-suited to small-scale....and that's probably where it will be best placed.