Orchids: pastel 18×14″

(Posted Sunday afternoon instead of my usual Monday).

This past week I’ve managed to get quite a bit done, if not totally finished. Today’s picture has been in progress since early March. These orchids are quite pale in bright light but have a depth of pinkish-mauve to them and provided a bit of a challenge for pastel.

The base is a sheet of white Pastelmat card that has been painted over in a few shades of blue watercolour. The orchids were positioned on a window-cill, in their pot, and I selected a single stem bearing flowers to draw. The work was done in pastel-pencil, using a combination of Conte and Derwent brands. This allowed for the small details on the orchids; and hatched overlapping lines helped to create the shading on petals.

Once this drawing was complete, I put the work aside because I wasn’t sure whether it was really finished or not. At this stage there was no background other than the blue paper. Eventually I began a background of dark colours using pastel-pencil but the colour-strength wasn’t enough to provide the contrast I wanted. And so I turned to the soft pastels, using dark Unison-brand shades to put in the initial layers; followed by lighter greens on top with a spattering of red-violet to give some energy to the flat darks.

A day later I decided to extend the colouring to the left of the flower-spray, thus creating the impression of a background bush, with sunlight touching the edges. This left a little of the blue background remaining as an area of “daylight”. In addition, I touched in small areas of pearlescent pastel on the petals, using a colour from the Sennelier range of metallics.

Phew. Completed at last. But interesting to have the play of detailed pencil against more impressionist pastel.

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