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Seven Boats: pastel 20 x15 inches approx.

, 16:18

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.

Summer's Yellow: pastel 6x7 inches

, 13:33

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.

Lakeside Trees: pastel 15x13 inches approx.

, 11:37

A couple of items completed since last time, here is one of them, although a bit out of season. My local lake-shores always put on a good display in autumn and I have been keeping the photo of this one back for a while, before finally launching out on it. It provided the opportunity to use some of the dull and brighter reds in the pastel-box.

Somerset Rhyne: pastel 10x11 inches approx.

, 21:04

(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.

Buddleia Visitor: pastel 8x8 inches

, 09:44

Posted a while back, now at DailyPaintWorks for seven-day auction:

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/643379

"Glass Eggcup": pastel 10x10 inches

, 19:48

Pastel on pastelmat card; although the image is 10x10 inches (25x25cm approx), it has been slightly cropped here because I had to fit it into my scanner (which is only A4 size, or 8 inches across). The bottom edge was omitted but it is actually just ochre-yellow pastel.

DailypaintWorks entry date: will update this post when image has been uploaded; this should happen around 6th or 7th January. Oops! Almost forgot; http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/640261

This work was completed in early December but I had not got around to photographing/scanning it. At the time, the light-levels in my house were dreadfully poor during the daytime, due to thick cloud and drizzly rain. I set this still-life up on top of the fridge, where light was picked up through a small south-facing window. I completed the painting by resting my work-board's top edge on the fridge-edge, and remained standing for the two and a half hours it took to do.....no room to put an easel. I added a further twenty minutes the following day for minor details. The end result is very subdued, courtesy of a limited palette to match the limited strength of daylight. The glass eggcup is quite old and has been around the house for many years.

I have started 2017 with a landscape, still under way, to come on here when completed. (nb sorry, comments not accepted at this time due to excess spamming).

Run-Up to Christmas: and Tomatoes

, 18:10

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.

http://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.

Pears on Plate: pastel 8x8 inches

, 14:03

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/625068

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

, 15:15

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

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/622529

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.

"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

http://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.

http://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 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