This blog hasn't got a "secure" padlock but the main website is now fully on https and all seems to be up and running, bar one or two pesky images that refuse to show up. They'll be fixed in due course. Last week I was forced off any painting by family events, so a little rattled not to get something completed. However, Peared Off was finished and is currently on the website and also at OriginalArtUnder100.com This one is worked with a lot of crosshatching in harder pastel, before laying on soft pastel gently for the fruit and little white cloth.
Another quickish pastel, this one on a piece of gessoed mountboard. Nectarines do not have quite the same velvety bloom on them as plums do, but there are some nice colours to be found. My local shop doesn't always sell them, so here are two from a batch of eight (four of which have already been eaten!).
These two were perched on a window-ledge and I had to pastel them by resting my drawing-board on the ledge and partly on the radiator underneath, to get the viewing-angle I wanted. This proved to be a rather tiring position, so I shortened my time on it. I'd like to do them again in another medium, so if there are any fresh ones available next week-end, I'll stock up.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
Posted a while back, now at DailyPaintWorks for seven-day auction:
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.
https://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.
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.
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.
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.
Quickish pastel this week, a little group of salvaged asters and tagetes placed in a miniature pot. On pastelmat card, 6x6 inches.
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.
Another small pastel completed during yesterday and this morning:
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.
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.
New pastel picture, just finished today:
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.
This piece will be, for a few weeks, my last one because of the Easter holiday period; and I will not have any time for painting during those days. I'm experiencing an overall mental balance between pastel and oil work; I am attempting to do at least one pastel during a week and also an oil painting. They don't always work out, so some weeks I'm stretched to get a picture ready and up for DailyPaintWorks. I will, though, be looking at subjects for after the holiday and hope to get outdoors as well on occasions when there is a good variety of clouds. There are precious few flowers right now in this garden that will make good subjects. I was hoping for some new tulip colours this year.....but a badger has dug up the bulbs
When I get the chance I will also be re-jigging parts of the website to make my smaller paintings directly available again. A couple of years ago there were technical difficulties, but last year I changed to a new hosting provider and have more control over what goes on. I'll also be dipping toes in the water for a tiny little new venture....not fully organised yet. More later.
Will start at DailyPaintWorks on Easter Monday. Link to follow; I will update this post. UPDATE: http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/532906
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