Every Stroke Counts

Pastel study, 18x12 in. on Pastelmat

This is a study for a larger painting, I’ve already done a version of it very small in oil, and I wanted to explore the gesture of the figures a bit more before venturing on to a very large version of this.

Two questions I am asked frequently: How come you never blend your pastels? Don’t you get bored painting the same subject several times?

As to the first, I don’t blend because I believe every stroke and bit of color is as important in and of itself as it is in making up the whole image. Strokes are meant to be seen in my work, they are what create the movment and vibrancy that produces the feeling of spontaneity. Smooth, photographic rendering does not interest me as a painter, expressive brushwork does.

On painting things more than once, first, I never paint the same composition twice. I may use the same subject or initial reference photo, but the paintings are usually done in different mediums, in different formats and the studies are my reference for the larger works. I barely rely on reference photos for my paintings, I use them in the studies and as a departure point for the paintings, but the prototype paintings are far more important to me than a photograph. Therefore, multiple studies are usually required and I never tire of painting something that interests me in the first place.

So I plan to do this large, perhaps in oil, perhaps acrylic, not sure yet. It will be part of my “Urban Figurative” theme for my solo show at Gallery Egan in Morristown, this coming May.

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4 Responses to Every Stroke Counts

  1. asrai7 says:

    I couldn’t agree more about the importance of expressive brushwork. Even this small study is interesting, I’m curious to see the finished piece.

  2. jacinda says:

    I really love this colour scheme! what colours exactly did you use? I am just starting out in pastels and I like this colour scheme.

  3. kullaf says:

    thank you! This was done on Pastelmat paper, the sheet I used was a light terra cotta color. Because this is pastel, I can’t really give you specific color as I would with a tube of oil where I work with a very limited palette (anywhere from 5 to 8 colors). But I’ll do my best to describe the process. I started out with the under drawing (value study) using a reddish violet NuPastel. From there, I began working the darks with a prussian blue NuPastel, as well as some Sennelier darks in blue-black and brown-black. I then worked through the middle value colors with purple, cobalt, burnt sienna, and yellow ochre. My brightest colors were pinks, aquamarine and yellow. 90% of this was done with NuPastels, I probably used a total of about 15 different colors/shades.

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