Monday, May 13, 2013

A Quick Study

Last week when my pastel group met for our weekly painting hangout we did a fun exercise. One of our members Katherine, suggested that we do a series of quick studies from a photo that we'd like to paint, each in a different color scheme, i.e monochromatic, complementary, analogous, etc. As she pointed out, these studies allow you to become so familiar with your subject that when you go to do your final painting it's sort of already embedded in your brain and you can just ...  do it! You'll have a better idea about the color values, how the shapes feel, and how you might want to edit and crop the painting.

Here is the still life reference photo I took to work from:

And here are the four studies of it:

We set a timer for the top two, just 10 minutes each. I gave myself a little more time on the bottom two and chose the colors I wanted for the final painting.

And here is the final painting:

I still ended up with cropping issues but of course I can fix that if I ever want to frame it. Actually I kinda sorta like the bottom left study better than the final! I tend to over-think and over-work my paintings and this is a good example of that. I also have problems with shapes and that's evident in the creamer ... it was better when I did it quickly. Soooo, note to self; rough in quickly in order to get the shapes right!

This was an especially great exercise for me since I'm usually impatient and jump right into a painting without giving it a lick of thought or a bit of preliminary sketching ... with hopes that I will turn out a masterpiece, of course. NOT. I'm usually flying by the seat of my pants and I can certainly benefit from more prep. I learned something and this was fun!

Thanks to Katherine for suggesting this. And might I mention that Katherine is an artist extraordinaire and also happens to be my cousin-in-law. She is the one who introduced me to pastels a couple of years ago and to that I also say, "Thank yeeeeeew!"

Monday, May 6, 2013


I had a bit of a bumblebee jag awhile back. Their sheer, wispy wings and fuzzy-wuzzy bodies lend themselves so nicely to pastels.

I like the way their knees are bent and their little legs just dangle when they're flying. I also love their fluffy white bottoms like bunny cottontails. These are the Bombus Lorcorum bumblebees, the white-tailed ones.

I am especially in love with the fact that bumblebees apparently defy gravity because their bodies are supposedly too heavy to fly, given the rather slow beat of their wings per second. Or some aerodynamic theory like that. But they are determined to fly and so .... they do. Love that.

I even have a special tiny pale blue Sennelier stub of a pastel that is reserved just for doing wispy wings. Only one brief stroke allowed. I think there might bee just a few more wings left in it.

And after painting a few bumblebees, I've discovered that my favorite ones are the most loose and barely suggested. This is the one I like the best... the most scribbly one!