Since my previous post about SpectraFix Pastel Fixative, I’ve had some questions from readers and new developments on my own. I want to take a moment to add to the discussion, so we as artists can have the most information to create the best results possible! Continue Reading…
Archives For soft pastel
Ah, the complexities of life. We all have a story, layered with triumphs, tears, mistakes, redemption, tragedies, success, joy and pain. Most of our stories are hidden behind our personas, whether they be smiling faces or bitter scowls; woven so tightly together that the layers are unseen, making up one image. These thoughts were on my mind as I created my newest piece, a 16×20 cotton boll in soft pastel. I begin my pieces with under layers of dark black followed by bright colors: turquoise, fuchsia, purple, bright green, gold:
Shepherd, Soft Pastel… On my twelfth birthday, my grandfather gave me a collection of my first “real” art supplies. Never doing anything halfway, he went to a local art store to have a professional choose the best materials: a selection of nice brushes, a set of watercolors in tubes and in a pan, acrylic paint, oil paint, canvases, papers, a set of drawing pencils, erasers, and a large box of pastels. With that gift, I moved from the childhood world of drawing cartoon characters with a #2 pencil to exploring the world of fine art. Years later, after I had painted and sketched the days away, I finally picked up the untouched box of pastels. But what to draw? It was my sophomore year of college, and I had recently returned from a Jan-term trip to Jordan and Syria (where, incidentally, I met my husband, a fellow student). There were so many new memories forever burned into my mind, but one stood out, and still does to this day: standing atop a golden ridge, looking out as the amber sun set over the Dead Sea, viewing the Bedouin caves from above, and spotting a flock of goats and sheep with their robed shepherd in the valley below. It was a beautiful moment, rich in color, that became the subject of my first pastel drawing with my first set of pastels. I have drawn it several times since, and it has become a repeated special request from my grandmother. The image has been altered as my hand has gathered new techniques and greater knowledge over the years, but here is a version from today, commissioned as a gift, sitting atop the greatest treasures of my much-expanded collection of art supplies: my Sennelier Soft Pastels.
After a slow few months of art production due to the lovely symptoms of pregnancy, I’m finally back at my desk! With a baby girl kicking at my belly whenever I squash her against my art table, I have recently completed this family farmhouse, bringing together about twenty photos to include many family memories of a very kind lady.
In order to incorporate so many features, I approached the piece with a leaning towards folk art rather than perfect realism and proportion. I used the same set of colors throughout the painting to keep the images together as a whole. My sweet client and I are both happy with the finished piece, and I am looking forward to beginning my next painting!
Family Farmhouse, 18×24 soft pastel on board
Roman Columns, 18×24 Soft Pastel on Board
Here is the fourth installment in the Italian series done by commission for a private collection here in the Birmingham area. My husband and I took a photo of these dramatic columns in the Roman Forum years ago, and I have always thought they would make a beautiful pastel!
View from Fiesole, 24×36 commissioned pastel
This is the newest addition to one of my most gracious client’s collection of pastels. “View from Fiesole” will hang with the “Trevi Fountain” and the “Spanish Steps.” And there is one more pastel of Italy to come, so stay tuned!
The Trevi Fountain, 24×36 Soft Pastel
The Spanish Steps, 30×30 Soft Pastel
The Coast of Maine, 16×20 Commissioned Pastel
I love the challenge of drawing the ocean, and especially the ocean spray as the waves crash upon the dark rocks. This piece is similar to my earlier pastels of the Scottish coast, with the wonderful contrast of darks and lights. I love using the many blues, greens, and whites intermixed with the unexpected hints of burgundy and ochre hidden in the water. The rocky coast in this particular piece was very interesting, with its striated texture glistening in the sun.
At an art show last spring I met a fellow pastel artist and, after some discussions about techniques, we did a paper swap. I gave him a piece of Sennelier La Carte pastel card, and he generously gave me a large sample of a pastel cloth. I like to call this one “paper from the past,” because a) he bought it a very long time ago and can’t remember the brand, b) after research, it is very hard to find information about pastel cloth, and c) it doesn’t seem to be made much anymore, if at all.
I discovered two possible sources for pastel cloth, which comes in a roll and is a synthetic, unwoven fabric, with a coating similar to sanded papers, that will hold layers of pastel. NY Central Art Supply and Sennelier both make/have made a pastel cloth.
The cloth can be cut to the desired size, but needs to be mounted or secured in some way to keep it from curling. It can also be stretched like a canvas. Since I was experimenting, I just taped all four sides down with masking tape.
I cut several pieces and taped them down to a board and decided to try a few things. First I layered some pastels, browns, oranges and ochres, and painted with a brush and water. Then I added details of a lily in my yard. The result pleased me well enough: the paper held the layers well, the water did not affect the paper adversely, all brands of pastels that I tried worked fine (Sennelier, Rembrandt, Gallery, Derwent pastel pencils).
5×7 Soft Pastel on Pastel Cloth
For the second “test” I tried a simple picture with my usual techniques. Again, the results were satisfactory, but I felt that the texture wasn’t as deep as I usually get by layering on Ampersand Pastelbord or Sennelier La Carte pastel card; the colors blended just a bit more.
While I enjoyed trying and learning about a different surface, the benefits of pastel cloth, mainly the texture, are overshadowed, in my opinion, by the downside of it being a cloth. My “verdict” is biased because of my preference for a hard board or card on which to work, and it seems like an unnecessary step to mount the pastel cloth on a hard surface when I could just buy another surface with a similar texture that is already sturdy.
With pastel cloth being hard to find, and made somewhat irrelevant by the numerous types of sanded papers that can also be used with wet or dry mediums (such as Wallis Paper), it may be more convenient and less frustrating to try another surface.
But to those who already have pastel cloth, or like the ability to stretch or mount it onto the size and surface you want, you can create some beautiful pieces of art!
Check out the art by my friend Daniel Curry, who has done several pieces on pastel cloth and so kindly shared some with me!
View his work at www.dcurrycreations.com
In preparation to list on Etsy, I’ve been making some new mini pictures! Here are a few of the 3×3 pastels which consist mostly of “the birds and the bees,” with the occasional snail or other tiny creature thrown in here and there!
These pieces range in price from $35-$45 depending upon the frame. The pastels are drawn on Sennelier La Carte Pastel Paper and sprayed with a fixative for durability. All birds are native to Alabama, and any bird can be drawn on commission at the same price. These make great gifts!
I have recently begun using a new pastel fixative introduced to me by one of my very talented art students Jenny Thornton. SpectraFix Is “a natural milk casein pastel fixative” that is non-toxic with no odor, and you can even spray it inside! It is pretty much alcohol and milk protein…it comes from cows! See? Continue Reading…