Thursday, June 26, 2008

Finished - Three Pears and Dish

Very excited to have this one finished. Considering my shaky color choices in the beginning stages, I'm happy with the end result. Three Pears and Dish 11 x 14" Pastel on Board

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Finishing Projects

"Pear Hugs" 8 x 10 Pastel on Board

I'm calling this one done. I really enjoyed working on this one. I bought some really lovely bell peppers at the grocery store yesterday and I can't wait to set them up and try to capture their "life".

I worked a bit on this one today, trying out some ideas on the color of the cloth. I didn't care for the blue violet that I had so I added rust over the top. I like this direction for color better and after adding some rust to the vertical shapes in the background, I think it pulls the piece together better.

Tomorrow I will refine the color and shapes on the cloth, then work on the pear and dish.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Progress on Saturday

The demo at South Union Gallery was a great deal of fun! I found it really challenging to paint and talk at the same time. It was also fun to hear the reactions from those who know me as a colored pencil artist. From "I didn't have any idea you did pastels!" to "That's colored pencil?"

I made a bit of progress, but I'm still not convinced about the violet blue cloth. I'm considering changing it....I've thought about a deep rust or green. And the dish is driving me absolutely crazy. I will figure it out though.

I also want to pull the shadows forward on this to help with my focal point (left pear).

Stay tuned!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Readying for a Pastel Demo Saturday

Three Pears and Dish WIP 11 x 14 (without stripes)

Three Pears and Dish WIP 11 x 14 (with stripes)

I was asked to do a demo from 11-1 at South Union Gallery tomorrow during the luncheon for the Annual Garden Tour. I don't have to do a presentation, just paint. So I spent today preparing a piece so that I can "just paint", and answer the occasional question.

I think I'll probably get lots of questions from those that know me as a colored pencil artist when I whip out the pastels.

This is from the photo I took below while posting about using my little black box as a photo shoot tool. I'm turning it into an 11 x 14 on Ampersand Pastelbord with soft pastels.

Here is the first layer of color, I have smooshed the background and the cloth on front. But I wanted to post the preliminary strokes on the pears so you could see my method of getting the pastel on the board just to get it covered. I will be smooshing the pears as the first part of the painting demo tomorrow.

I'm showing two versions here as I am considering the stripes becoming drapery in the background, I think the vertical lines help the composition. The "drapes" may end up being a different color....I just wanted to see if they helped or hindered. That's what I love about pastel, a flick of the hand, and "voila!"....your changes are in place or covered up.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Working from Real Life....

After posting about my little black box and how to set up for a photo shoot, I thought I would now show you how you could use it for a still life/real life painting resource.

I don't work from real life enough because colored pencil is so slow...these pears would be long dead before I finished the piece.'s amazing what you see in real life...the color that the camera/computer just don't pick up. It's almost a spiritual experience to try to capture their "life". Very deep, huh?

Here is a pic of the setup, with the same lighting as before. But I'm not photographing it to work from only to show the setup.

After getting a quick sketch of the pears only for placement, I cover the 8 x 10 pastelbord with some very basic values/colors. Then I smooshed (love that technical term) the pastels around so the edges are really fuzzy and the board is completely covered. Note - there is no underpainting for this one. Just buttery soft Ludwigs.

This is my second sitting with the pears, trying to get the shapes more defined/refined. I'm also introducing more color variations/values. You can just see how the addition of some colors makes such a huge difference to the already present colors. Which is why even when you are working on colored pencil you want to get your background in and all the basic values before you try to put in the detail.

I'm trying to incorporate some concepts that were given to me yesterday on "Pot, Orange and Eggs" by a great critiquer. He told me to be fearless, not so precise with my edges, watch my color harmony, and introduce some neutrals so that some things "sing" and some "sing backup". My words.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Still Life Setup for a Photo Shoot

Over in the Scribbletalk online forum,, a fellow artist has been wondering about my setup since she heard about my little black box. This is for you Jan!

I have a small home and way too many hobbies, so rooms have to be multi-purpose...this is set up in the master bedroom.

Again, it's just a cardboard box painted black with craft paint. The purple fabric is a piece of cotton broadcloth that is from my quilting stash (wrinkled I might add, but sometimes that makes for nice shapes in a painting).

The pears are from the grocery store, and the dish is from the local Goodwill. You can find some great pieces at thrift shops. When I am actually making money being an artist, maybe I can afford to NOT shop for still life set-ups at the thrift stores.

The lighting is a 40w bulb from ACE hardware as is the metal spot lamp. It's like do-it-yourselfers might use in their woodworking shop.
Here is the setup with the lamp off so you can see the spot lamp better and you can also see what the lighting above adds to the set-up. It gives you nice shadow shapes and lovely midtones and highlights.

The above picture is right out of the camera (a little Kodak that's about 5 or 6 years old). I use the close up setting...the symbol on my camera is a little tulip.

Once I have the photo right out of the camera, I can then manipulate it by cropping (this is cropped using Photoshop Elements II), changing the colors, etc. I am not a PS II expert so these are just basics that I am using to create my photo to work from.

You still have to keep in mind all those principles of composition and design. You might visit Katherine Tyrell's, Making a Mark....see my sidebar link. As I recall she had some nice resources for comp and design.

If anyone has any tips they would like to share about how they photograph their still life set-ups, I would love to hear your comments.

I am actually painting from real life today using these lovely little pears, my black box, and my pastels on Ampersand Pastelbord.....Cheers!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pot, Orange and Eggs - Finished

Finished this at painting group this morning. I'm happy with the way it turned out, and have rekindled my love for my soft pastels. I think I'll be doing a few more pastels until the old colored pencils start calling my name again.
Pot, Orange & Eggs 8 x 10 pastel on board

Saturday, June 14, 2008

25th Annual All Colorado Exhibit

Tonight was the reception for the exhibit at Curtis Arts & Humanities. Two of my buds from the Denver Chapter of the CPSA were also selected for the exhibit, Dorothy DiPaulo and Heidi Snyder. We were the only 3 colored pencil artists in the show and it IS a wonderful show. Dorothy and I decided we were in really, really good company.

The reception was packed which is always fun and I noticed some red sales stickers early in the evening.

The awards will be announced at the lecture by juror, Gwen Chanzit, Ph. D., curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Denver Art Museum, on June 26th at 6:30.

The exhibit closes August 1st.
This is also my first photo with my new braces...I had a hard time figuring out how to smile ;-)

Photo Booth

This my my little photo booth I made for myself. I saw one on an artist's blog the other day that was huge and very well done. This is an infant portable feeding chair box that has been in our garage for about a year from our granddaughter's arrival into the world. I cut it down so it's about 12" deep.

I painted the inside black and since there was a hole and tape showing on the bottom of the box (now the back), I put a piece of mat board in and painted it with the same Delta Ceramcoat craft paint.

I shine my can lamp with it's 100 watt bulb into the box from side and it works pretty well for me.

Pot, Orange and Eggs-WIP

Not much artwork has been done here for the last week or so. Quite a week for family issues.

My frame of mind has not been into colored pencil (I find it so hard just to start). So I created a little photo booth for myself to set up still life. Not too hard to cut up a box, and paint the inside black. I'll do another post to show how I did that.

I enjoyed working on the Yellow Pepper Top last week, so I was so jazzed about having some simple still lifes that I decided to do another pastel.

This is an 8 x 10 on Ampersand Pastelbord. I did the underpainting so I would have a map of some value structure and color notes. The underpainting is done with Inktense and Neocolor II watersoluble products. Here is the painting with most of the darks and some midtones finished...or nearly. I am fishing around to see how deep I want the shadows to intrude on the objects. So I wanted to put some lights in to see the contrast between the lightest lights and the darkest darks.

I will finish the pot, then the highlights on the cloth and then canoodle until I feel like it's finished.

I had forgotten how much I love my pastels and the richness of color you can achieve. I am using Rembrandt and Ludwig pastels.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Yellow Pepper Top Finished

I started this piece a couple of posts ago with my new Prisma markers intending to use colored pencil to finish over the top of the markers. edges in the pepper from yellow to orange to red were too hard-edged to cover with the cp's. (That's why we do these experiments :-)

So after stewing over it a couple of days I decided to cry "uncle" and finish it in soft pastels. I have seen some beautiful energetic works using a "broken color" technique. I'm not sure the texture of the pastel stroke suits the texture of the pepper, but when you stand away from it the colors blend quite nicely.

It was alot of fun to do and got me out of my funk over my failed marker/cp experiment!!

That and getting adjusted to having my new braces in. I'm a light sleeper and I wake up about every 10 minutes thinking something is in my mouth.....oh, really? They ache and I've already had to have them repaired...but I do like the way they look.

Yellow Pepper Top 5" x 7" Soft pastels over Prisma archival markers.