Class Notes – Art of Pastel 1/14/11

still life demo, pastel on Pastelmat, 7x9 in.

Drawing Matters!

This is my motto for the week’s classes. Often times, representational painting students become frustrated if their paintings lack depth, dimension and a professional look that says “I’m in control”. This can be particularly challenging to students who wish to paint in a loose, expressive style. The key is understanding the importance of structure (the drawing underneath) and the fact that loose does not mean the same thing as sloppy.

In order to support the layer of color on top, the under painting must be drawn with correct forms, values, proportion and perspective. In today’s lesson, I focused mainly on form and value, next week I will review proportion and perspective.

In the demo above, I began by blocking in the forms–each object was drawn as if it were transparent, this helps in getting things placed correctly. It also allows you to better see the forms that make up the whole object–in other words, look for geometric shapes that make up each object and build upon them to get the right overall form. For example, I began by drawing the ball of the wine bottle at its shoulder, I bisected that with a center line, then made my top and bottom ellipses for the neck of the bottle and the base. Once that is done, all that’s left is connecting the verticals. It is much easier to create symmetry and proportion this way than it is to draw one half the bottle and then try to match the other half exactly.

Next, I began mapping in the darkest values (still working monochromatically) all the way through the mid tones and leaving the paper uncovered for the lightest lights. Now we’re ready for color, again starting with the darkest darks and working through to the lightest areas.

As for technique, try not to blend if you can avoid it, layer one color on top of another and don’t rub them together, let them mix optically. The amount of pressure you use with the pastel determines how much or how little of the first color laid down shows through. Try to limit the number of colors you use so that the piece remains harmonious, make every stroke count in order to retain movement and spontaneity.

Pastel is wonderful for producing expressive, bold, colorful paintings. Next week, I will do a monochromatic still life demo to further illustrate the concepts of form, value, and proportion when working directly from a live set up.


One Response to Class Notes – Art of Pastel 1/14/11

  1. dana dimuro says:

    anne i love the ladies as well as the apples
    the work in progress looks great
    thanks for sharing
    miss you

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