I recently finished a new pastel…
For most of the last two years I have only been working in oil, so it was refreshing to get back to my first love- pastel. Painting again with those dusty, saturated colors had my heart so happy.
It’s funny how painting in one medium will translate into another. And then everything changes. Different priorities will pull across from the way one handles one medium to another, and this is a good thing. The danger of being an artist is that you can get in a rut.
My son is playing basketball on his high school team. And I am amazed at how shooting a basketball is so technical. He stresses how the same stance and the same hand flexion has to be done in order to be consistent when throwing the ball.
As as an artist that would be a problem. Same marks, Same subjects. Same colors. It leads to stagnation in my world. And I see it all of the time. I have gone to open life drawing sessions with many people that I see repeatedly and everyone is there with supposedly 2 goals- to enjoy time drawing, but mostly to improve upon their skills.
But it feels like sometimes everyone is still doing the same thing. Year and after year. Without any major breakthroughs. No criticism. Just an observation. Maybe it would be good to use a different paper or switch from charcoal to watercolor? Whatever it takes to push through and gain competency, right?
So once I went back to my faithful friend of pastel I was not only giddy to be working in the medium again, but I also felt like I was looking at things differently. And handling the medium with the critical eye of an oil painter. So valuable.
Recently I decided to go back to painting a few portraits set in front of mosaics. Here is one I did a few years ago of my daughter. I just love the swan behind her and having it almost resting on her shoulder. (deliberate) As though the name of “Swann” rests its future on her.
And here is the painting that I just completed. I love the peacock mosaic and tried to find a bunch of ways to integrate arcs into the figure and background.
“Peacock” pastel, 36 x 24″ Done from life…….
I liked that she had this shirt where the sleeve looked like a “wing” and that her nails were painted to almost look like claws. Integration! She has a deep love and understanding of fashion, so that plays into the image as well- peacocks show off their plummage right? Well, the males anyway…
And what are “arcs?” Arcs, (a sweeping line or curve) can be instrumental to a piece to give it interest and motion. Sculptors know this. They plan for and think about arcs in 3-D integration all of the time. Here are some of the arcs that were planned out in the very beginning when thinking about the composition… you know I like to plan this stuff out……….
Design people! It rocks!
(oh! and yes, this is the same model from the “Goldfish” painting)
The flow is fun. Just like playing “Follow the Leader” -the edges and elements flow and grow and swish around. It becomes a song on paper.
So maybe next I need to start sculpting. Couldn’t hurt.
Amazing work. The mosaics do add a texture and flow that makes it unique.
Always learn from your blogs.
Glad you are back to pastels.
Thank you. Always striving- looking for more. But mostly-I don’t know what I’m looking for. So….I’ll just keep looking. Have a great day.
Arent we all alwayslooking? 😀
Gorgeous piece–the lighting is wonderful, and it doesn’t hurt that your model is such a lovely woman! I’ll be in your workshop this coming weekend and was hoping we might find a few minutes to talk about backgrounds and design. Would love to hear your insights on how you approach that, if time allows.
I enjoy your work so much!!
Hi Lisa. Wonderful! I look forward to meeting you on Saturday! There is only so much time in a portrait class to plow through so many things but I can touch on a few basic elements in the workshop. And yes, there are more arcs in the image than I marked. I teach a composition class that spends the day concentrating on integration and control of the picture plane. Be on the lookout for that class again!
I am seeing many more arcs than you even mentioned! All appearing as a natural part of the compositional design!! Beautiful!
Those of us who have taken your classes understand the magic– I am just saying this as a teaser for those who are thinking about signing up! What you learn changes everything you do! (Since you didn’t mention your classes, I thought I would!!!)
thanks! Right! I promise to abuse every student with lots of good info about composition…😊😊
Do you see the improvement over your daughter portrait DESIGN wise.?? Fantastic .
You are my Hero !!
oil or powder sticks
I know right? Time heals and also improves…..thanks o master… I have been studying you…..
I’ve been following your emails for a couple years, keeping them for reference, and I took an online pastel class from you in an effort to learn. I loved loved loved your class and method of teaching, but I hated working with the pastels. I then took two additional drawing classes where they happened to use some pastel as a medium, and also tried to work with it at home over and over. I finally faced the fact I just really do not like working with pastels, So I kinda gave up. Which makes me sad, because I really want to learn and paint.
Anyhow, I had no idea you were painting in oil. I hadn’t seen any classes from you in that medium or heard you talk about oil much. I would LOVE to take classes in oil from you. Have you been doing that and I missed it? Or will you be doing that? Thanks.
hi- no stress! My daughter can’t stand the touch of pastel and I get it. We are all different so it makes sense we are comfortable working in different mediums. I started teaching classes in oil in 2019 before everything went crazy. Not sure if you are in Pittsburgh but I will be starting that again this Fall in person. As for the new work in oils it has been a bit of a secret! I have not shared my work in oil yet but I have an exhibition that will be showcasing them this October. I am still busy as a bee finishing everything up. I can’t wait to share it all! soon….
As always informative and inspiring! I am always “drawn” to different mediums now.. I just really wish my studio was much larger to accommodate my varied directions. I really like your compositions with the mosaic style background. You are a visual and verbal story teller.
I love your use of arcs. It can be such a powerful tool ; from laying out the composition to your strokes. Thank you for such great paintings explained.
You bet! 😀
That Painting is gorgeous! The composition, color combinations, and the information about trying new mediums is inspiring. Thank you so much for being so giving with your advice, Christine. I, too, have a file of your information.
Thanks Kathy!! 😀
Another exciting piece and explanation of your process, Christine. Those arcs distinguish this painting from so many other portraits. And I’m starting to see many other arcs within your painting. I wish I lived in Pittsburgh to be able to study with you!
Thanks so much! We will meet up at some point!
Lovely paintings, and glad you’re back to pastels!
You are right about sculptors looking for movement. I remember a painting instructor once told me to take a class in sculpture because it taught you to really look at the figure’s movement, depth and weight. I did and thought it was excellent advice. I love so many of the different arts, pottery, glass, jewelry. Taking a class really opens your eyes to the special skill sets required and appreciation for that art (and confirms I surely don’t have the mindset to pursue them). However, I do come away eager to paint with real enthusiasm!
Absolutely! I love pottery but suck at it. I still have a bunch of wonky cups and vases from the class but love them.
Beautiful painting with gorgeous flow! I love the mosaic effect!
Beautiful work! Thank you for sharing. I love the movement in your painting and the mosaic work.
You are a master at your work!
Thank you Charles!!