Thursday, October 23, 2008


Pumpkins 11" x 14" pastels on Ampersand Pastelbord

This has been my class project for the last 2 weeks....and I will be finishing it up next week. There are some areas I need to brush off as the pastel got too thick on the sanded board.

Again the object of the exercise is to utilize light and shadow to reveal the form. I need to fix my pumpkin sections on the large pumpkin...the creases don't really get that dark.

I did the drawing with NuPastels (they are hard and you can use them more like a drawing instrument than the chunky pastels.

The really cool dried stem WAS attached to the pumpkin when I picked it out in the produce section, but my helful checkout person ripped it off for me! I couldn't get "Stop" out fast enough. She thought I was making a pumpkin pie...ha! Little does she know, cooking a pumpkin pie for me is preheating the oven and opening a Sara Lee box. I've been known to screw that up!
But I got the stem in there and I quite like what it adds to the design.

Next week I will post the finished piece.

Starting to Lay in Colors

Moving on to the onions and pepper...will come back and adjust any values and make any corrections in color at the end.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Background In - Pepper and Onions

I'm not sure why this is photographing soooo blurry today....could be the camera or it could be the light or maybe toooo much coffee this morning.
The background and foreground are finished for now, and it's time to focus on the onions and pepper. I'll save the pot for last.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

More work on the Pot, Onions and Pepper

I've done a bit more work on this, at last posting I was going to start the cps, but since I am working on a mid-value sanded board I wanted to lay in some of the highlights and get them really bright for a little more drama.

I used Inktense for the darks, but I don't have a light enough Inktense for highlights, so I mixed a little yellow and white acrylic...watered it down...and used it for the highlights. Worked pretty well, and since it's not a legal product for the CPSA International Exhibit, it can now be entered into the ET!5 exhibit....deadline coming up Nov 15th!!!

Now I'm ready for cps.......

Monday, October 13, 2008

At Last! Some Colored Pencil - WIP

Pepper, Pot and Onions 8" x 10" Underpainting in Inktense on Ampersand (sand colored).....

Resource photo taken in my lovely little black box....

It's time to apply some of what I have learned in my pastel class about the Light and Shadow concept to my colored pencil work. I have used Dark Green, Ink Black, Indigo Blue and Bark to do my underpainting. The water has been applied to the Inktense, and now I'm ready to do some lights in Inktense.

I am changing the background a bit to add some interest. Instead of being all black it will have some "in the light" values on the right side.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Class Exercise - Pot, Pepper and Onions

Pot, Pepper and Onions.....11 x 14 Pastel on Wallis Belgian Mist Sanded Paper

This one is just about done, I need to tweak a few things, the middle onion is too red, and the background and foreground need a little work. I'll be doing that at home

I will be starting a new project in class next week. What I learned last night is that for me to draw (which I do), I need to have a harder pastel that keeps an edge. I used NuPastel last night which is a very hard pastel made by Prismacolor and was very pleased at what I could do with them. I will be using the NuPastel for my drawing and first layers and then follow up with my very soft Ludwigs.

One of the things we talked about last night, continuing on the Light and Shadow painting concept, was that not everything has to be detailed. Coming from a colored pencil background I have a tendency to render everything at the same level. Deb talked about detailing either the lights or the shadows but not necessarily both. So as I finished up this painting, I thought about detailing the light not the shadow. So, for instance, you can see the dark bottom of the green pepper runs into the cast shadow, but your eye fills in the information.

We're starting to talk about edges...hard and soft....but Deb describes them as pathways. You can open up a pathway by using a soft edge and keep the attention in another part of the painting by using a hard edge. She also uses the word "magic" alot....which I love!

My homework project for this next week is to start a colored pencil piece based on what I have learned in the pastel class so far. Here is the photo I took yesterday to use as a reference. In the pastel class we work from life, but my pepper would be dead and the onions a little crisp if I didn't use a photo reference for colored pencil's soooooo slow.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

5th Week of Pastel Class

Setup - It always amazes me how lackluster a photo can be. The setup in the studio was full of reflected light and pizzazz. I guess that's why I'm an artist and not a photographer. I'm never able to capture the pizzazz in a photo. This really was like building a theater set, which is Deb's background. I'm really enjoying learning how to do this.

This is 11" x 14" on Belgian Mist Wallis sanded paper. The black is a combo of NuPastel and black Rembrandt pastels. These are harder than the Ludwigs that I usually use.

Constructing the Darks - What I have "constructed" is the core shadows and the cast shadows. I have seen artists write books about this but never quite understood it. It gives a whole new meaning to thumbnail sketches. In a thumbnail you are trying to see if the darks make a good design. If I had been doing thumbnail sketches on this group of objects, I could now move them around and do another "constructing the darks" and decide which design was more pleasing.

Laying in the Lights - My pot went a little wonkie, but is fixable. This is only the first layers of lights. What is left now (for next week's class) is to continue to layer and refine colors and shapes. My values on the lights of the onions is a little dark but I should be able to fix this as well.


- In this method of painting, things are either in the light or the dark. Even though the background is black (see setup pic), the right side is in the light and therefore is not really a dark. Big lightbulb moment!!

- More time spent during the setup results in alot less uncertainty when you start painting.

- There are probably more observations but they are still floating around in the gray matter in my brain this morning.

Thanks for following my adventure!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Week 4 - Designing Darks

Ay-yi-yi........week 4 was about designing darks....not when you are drawing, but when you are doing the set up. It sounds so easy, but in practice something I need to really think hard about when I'm in the middle of it.

So this week's artwork looks woefully sparse but the learning was more in the setup. The idea is to have the light travel from the left to the right and create your focal point in the Golden Mean.

The Golden Mean is a math principle which is found everywhere in nature, and rather than me butcher it completely, check out Wikipedia's definition:

What does this all mean for an artist? It means that if you divide your picture plane into thirds, your focal point should fall somewhere a little less than 2/3's of the way across your plane. Based on the principles of the Golden Mean it is an ever-present ratio found in our bodies, in seashells, etc. Therefore, it is a pleasing aesthetic to our eyes as a viewer of artwork.

The focal point is where you should find your sharpest edges, your lightest lights and your darkest darks. So in my exercise above the jar falls vertically along the Golden Mean (approximately), and the lights and darks should be more intense in that area.

A couple of things I learned:
- Do not set up a still life with a piece of glass when you have a short time to draw.
- Use a harder pastel, like NuPastel, to get your darks down. The sanded paper eats up your really wonderful soft Ludwigs. Save those for the top layers.
- Creating masterpieces in a classroom setting just doesn't happen.
- You can never learn too much about art.

Cross your fingers that I survive week 5. We are working on a completed piece.