Thursday, September 30, 2010

Class Project

Jasmine Tea
6" x 9.5"
Still life setup for the Artists Bootcamp.  Started in class as a sketch while demonstrating "how to start a drawing."  The students first played spin-the-iron while in a circle around it, doing short sketches and holding them up after each iron spin.  The iron is an antique that used some sort of gas to heat it.  Wonder how many blew up.  Some poor soul's finger marks have worn the paint off on the handle.  Found it in a shop in Maine, couldn't resist the colors.  Used now as a door-stop or still-life object.  This pastel is on gray Canson with Nupastels and black pastel pencil for lettering.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Paper Experiment

Pat's Tree
8.5" x 5.5"
An artist friend (featured in my Man and Manatee pastel a few days ago) told me he paints acrylic on an office supply copy paper which is acid-free.  Roaming around Office Depot recently, I discovered a heavy weight, acid-free vellum bristol.  Also comes in 110 weight but could only find smooth.  The reason for using the vellum bristol is that the texture is better for pencil drawing than smooth.  The experiment above proves that it's also good for pastel.  I used Nupastels and so far don't know how it would hold up for soft pastels.  More experiments will follow.  At about fourteen dollars for 250 sheets, this paper is perfect for using in my Artist Bootcamp for quick sketches.  And if a masterpiece is created, the acid-free paper should last for awhile.  Some of the sanded pastel papers on the market are so expensive that it's inhibiting to use as a learning/practice surface.  So this vellum paper is quite a deal!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ringling Trees

Banyons at Ringling
3.5" x 4.5"
Found a shady spot to sketch under the banyon trees with a view of the Intercoastal near the Ringling Museum.  Don't think it's legal to plant banyons in Florida anymore, too bad.   The roots can travel great distances in search of water and may find it in your neighbors swimming pool, cracking concrete and foundations along the way.  This pastel is on sanded Pastel Card using Nupastels and pastel pencils. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Acrylic Demo

Woman in Secret Garden
24" x 18"
While taking reference photos in Sarasota's Ringling Art Museum's Secret Garden, this woman dashed by like a butterfly.  I've changed her image to protect her privacy, but what a lucky accident.  I'm planning on doing some large oils of this garden and she will be featured in a future painting.  Below is a demo of the acrylic study.  These demos are designed to go along with my Artist Bootcamp as student's reference.  I really hate working with acrylics but had a deadline for a show.
Step 1: Vine charcoal sketch on canvas.
Step 2: Red roughed in for darks.
Step 3: Background roughed in with #10, ratty bristle brush.
Step 4: Figure roughed.
Step 5: Finished with smaller brushes and a little fussing.  Kept it loose because this is only a study for a future painting.  Total time, day and a half.  Currently on display at the Visual Arts Center, Punta Gorda. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Manatee and Artist

Man and Manatee
4.5" x 9"
This is an artist friend reaching out and touching a manatee.  He said it came over and looked at him while it passed by.  The drawing is from a snapshot on Pastel Card, black sanded.  The water caused me lots of grief.  If I followed the photo too closely, it didn't look right.  Brushed it off twice with a bristle brush and finally painted it from memory and imagination.  Yes, the water is that color here in SW Florida and on this day crystal clear.  Below is another snapshot that shows the manatee's dark form.  One woman on the beach jumped up to warn that it might be a shark.  We have lots of those around too.
Artist and manatee photo I took with zoom lense.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Canopy Chair

Water's Edge
5.5" x 8.5"
First sketch at water's edge in new canopy chair.   Just pop that baby up and it's an instant tent with shade and privacy.  Now I don't have to search for shady spots.   Nupastels, Canson pastel paper taped to foam core board, suntan lotion, bathing suit for taking dips during breaks.  Fabulous!  This was the day I watched a manatee swim up to an artist friend.  I managed to jump up and capture great shots with my zoom digital camera.  Did a drawing from the reference which I'll post later.  With the drawing above, there was a wild, watercolor toned paper for underpainting.  Some blue and rose color shows along the bottom, yellow under the sky.  It's fun to start with an underpainting that has nothing to do with the scene, had painted it weeks before.  Just let accidents happen and hope for the best.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sketching with a friend

Live Oak Planted
5.5" x 8.5"
Another sketch from a nearby park at the edge of a cricket field.  Yes, Englewood has a cricket field.  Drove by last weekend and players were dressed in white, swinging bats.  Will have to do some paintings of them soon.  Beautiful sight.  But the morning of this sketch the park was empty.  My friend and I sat in the shade and did more chatting and laughing than work, but it was all fun and worthwhile.  A car drove up and two young men got out and sat nearby, blasting their radio... I guess in hopes of driving us away.  We didn't budge and they finally gave up and left.  But still it was a little creepy.  My friend had a personal protection device, similar to an electric cattle prod in her purse, just in case.  Too bad we have to think about these things.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pastel Gull Demo

Gull Landing
4.5" x 8.5"
There's something vibrant that happens with pastel on black, sanded Pastel Card.  It's my least favorite color to work on, maybe because it reminds me of those black velvet Elvis paintings, but I've been impressed with the color results.  Gull Landing was started by drawing the background first.
Step 1:  Covered entire area of black Pastel Card with Nupastels.  These pastels are quickly becoming my favorites for underpainting, blending, and detail work.  I also used a piece of my handy, dandy Home Depot pipe insulation to rub in the color.  Not one finger was used to blend in this painting.  The sanded surface is too rough anyway.  I always use Gloves in a Bottle to protect myself from pigments... safety first!
Step 2:  Worked in gull after rubbing off an area with stiff, old bristle brush.  Used pastel pencils for small details.  Added shadows to forground.  Continued adding darks and lights with Nupastels and pastel pencils with a touch of soft pastels here and there until the finished version... here again below.
Gull Landing finished with signature in pencil.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Second Half

Second Halfway Sketch Finish
5.5" x 7"
This is the finished pastel of the second drawing I started last Sunday.  View of dunes and trees when I turned my back to the Gulf and some familie's huge canopy that blocked my view.  Underpainting with Nupastels on tan Canson Mi Tentes.  Original sketch below:
Second Halfway Sketch
Quick and loose... extended the size around the edges for the finished pastel above.  But this sketch gave me enough to information to finish at home. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Half-Way Sketches

Sunday Morning
6" x 9"
My husband and I picked a spot on the beach to settle in for a few hours.  He packed a lunch and a book and I had a few sketching supplies.  Was half way through this drawing, (tan Canson taped to a small piece of foam core board four sides) when a large family set up a ten foot square shade canopy blocking my view!  I had the drawing blocked in with Nupastels (always have a small plastic box filled with a good selection of broken pieces for lap-sketching, and pad of paper ready to go.  Sometimes, it's best to travel light, I'll write more about this later).  Fortunately, I had snapped a few photos and decided to finish it at home.  I turned and faced inland and sketched  clouds and trees, and left it half-way done.  With both of these half-way sketches, I was able to note the colors and values... something that just doesn't show up in a photo, and finish them back in my studio.  So I discovered half-way sketches, instead of finishing on the spot, frees me from that time pressure.  And I don't have to get angry if something blocks my view!  Half-way sketches for stress relief, ahhh...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pastel Wave

Wave Study
3.5" x  4.5"
Another day at the beach attempting to memorize the color and pattern of waves.  They never hold still long enough.   This isn't a wave, it's an illustration of a wave.  It's what is left in my mind after the wave rolls out... color, shapes, translucency, and a splash of sunlight.  Visual foam and spindrift scribbled on a scrap of black Pastel Card.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Canna Pastel Demo

Pink Canna Lily
4.5" x 6"
Another pastel demo experiment!   A lot of people ask about my process.  It's not easy to demonstrate, because I work in many ways, depending on time and mood.  And changing mediums and methods challenges, and hopefully sharpens my skills.  I had pictured something completely different for this little drawing, and after fighting with it, let it go in its own direction.
Step 1 and a half:  Used blue pastel pencil on white Wallis sanded pastel paper to do rough sketch.  Then watercolor underpainting (*It's sand paper!  Use an old or retired synthetic brush for this.  Wore the point off a good WN series 7 red sable before I remembered!)  Worked out dark and light areas.  Paper was taped four sides before painting to keep it from warping too much.  Put it in Floridian sun to dry in a few seconds, or use a hair dryer.  
Step two:  Roughed in local colors of background and leaves with soft and Nupastels.
Step three:  Wasn't happy with background and bottom right leaf.  Brushed off pastel with stiff, old bristle brush.  Took the background back to the watercolor layer and decided it worked better.  Worked with pastel pencils to define flower petals and finish the painting.  Here it is again:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pastel Portrait

12" x 9"
Started this at the Punta Gorda portrait studio last week and finished at home.  This was difficult, but I learn something with every attempt.  The harder I try the more I learn and maybe next time, it will be easier.  I hope, maybe?  Drawing is a lifelong learning experience.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Beach Sketch

Noon Sketch
4.5" x 9"
Sometimes, all you have to do is turn around and there's another sketch-worthy scene.  A friend loaned me part of her sandwich, so I was able stay longer to do this one.  Clouds on the left filled with rain soon after.  Pastel on Pastel card.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Looking Back

Girl in Bonnet
8" x 7"
Came across this drawing I did years ago and decided to redraw it with pastels over the original watercolor.  Wish I had made a copy of the original layer, but I wasn't happy with it.   The drawing paper had almost no tooth and didn't hold pastel very well.  I never use fixative because it changes the color, and although it was tempting to spray this one, I resisted.  It would have been easier to keep the original and start fresh.   Lesson learned.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Perfect Plein Air Day

Venice Beach Morning
4.5" x 9"
Perfect painting morning!  Eileen, did a fantastic oil filled with color and energy.  Sally found a spot under a shady pine and did an amazing pastel of sky, water, and sand... finished before we did and went for a swim.  On the way out, she said, "A dolphin and a manatee lifted their heads out of the water to look at me!" 
I finished two small landscapes, pastel on Sennelier Pastel Card.  And we made it back to our cars just before the rain came down.   How perfect is that?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


3.5" x 4.5"
Pastel on Sennelier Pastel Card with hard and soft pastels.  Reference was cropped from photo I took in Selby Gardens Greenhouse, Sarasota.  My inspiration was the sunlight spilling across orchids and leaves in the background.  Process was the same as the Rose demo from yesterday.  Used a lot of pastel pencils for detail and blending.  Even allowed myself a paper stump once in a while.  Some colors were exaggerated for dramatic effect.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pastel Rose Demo

Home Depot Rose
3.5" x 4.5"
Little scrap of Pastel Card too good to waste, and only a little time to spare.  Took this snapshot while wandering around the garden section of Home Depot and have always wanted to do a painting of it.  This small study will be helpful for a large oil.  I use photographic reference the same way I would approach a plein air painting on location, creating an impression and interpretation, not a reproduction.
Pastel box, photo reference on computer, and easel setup in studio.
Stage 1: Blue pastel pencil on Pastel Card.
 Stage 2: Blue Nupastel for darks.
Stage 3: Naples yellow Nupastel for lights.
Stage 4: Local color added with soft and hard pastels.  Trying to see warm and cool areas.  Continued with this process, blending with Nupastels only.  Finished painting is above.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hibiscus Pastel Demo

Hibiscus Sketch
4.5" x 5.5"
This is the finished pastel sketch which was done on black La Carte Pastel card, a lightly sanded card made by Sennelier.  The sketch was done in three stages, first two shown below.  It was a challenge working on black, but the paper allowed me to build up thick areas of soft pastel where needed.  I also challenged myself to do no blending except with another piece of pastel.  Nupastels, or another soft pastel of a different color was used to merge areas.  No fingers, paper stumps, or foam tools were used in this drawing! 
Hibiscus Sketch, first stage: blue pencil on black La Carte Card.
Hibiscus Sketch, second stage: local color block-in.
And stage three, finished pastel... above.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pastel Portrait

11" x 8"
Good to get back to the Punta Gorda Portrait group this week.  Cruz was a great model and held still for three hours, not an easy thing for a sixteen year old.  Looking forward to next week when his mother will be the model.  This drawing was on white Canson paper, stained with dry pastel.  Covered the whole sheet then rubbed as much off as possible before starting.  First drew with a dark blue pastel pencil, then blended a layer of local color using Nupastels, used soft and hard pastels to finish.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Blue Pots Oil Demo

Red acrylic on 18" x 24" canvas for first layer.
Thin oils applied rapidly with big old fat bristle brushes.
Third layer, painted pots on left.
18" x 24"

This is the first oil I've done in a few months because of my new-found pastel obsession.  Pastels have forced me to "see" color in a new way.  It was a compliment when my husband asked, "Is that a pastel?" when he first saw Blue Pots.  With oils, the colors are not in front of you and each has to be mixed.  With pastels, colors that I would never think of mixing are in front of me like a tempting box of candy.  What joy!  Pastels have "pushed" my color sensitivity into a brighter range.  Rather than reproducing the colors I see in front of me, I'm more experimental and intuitive with color selection.  And all because of working in a different medium for a while.