Pastel Process

Choosing colors
Choosing Colors

First step is choosing the key colors around which the painting will originate. This process might take as many as 2-3 days. I a testing colors for value, hue and temperature making sure that when layered on top of each other they create depth of field as well as textures I want. Because pastels are the only dry color medium this characteristic is one I maximize when using it. Each pastel stick has a distinct texture to it. How it is applied to the paper determines how many layers can be added and how much of under layers can be seen through top layers.

Pastel Painting Process
Step 3

Underlying a landscape is a good solid abstract value structure that transcends the literal objects. That is this stage creating- the abstract shapes and composing the positive and negative spaces. Sometime I use melodies for placement of key objects as a melody is varied in notes and rhythm. Think of what a melody looks like written on tabulator verses the bass.

Pastel Painting Process
Build shapes

Here is a close up of building the shapes. At this stage as well I am choosing what types of strokes I will use for different objects. Pastel strokes, just like brush strokes, are a critical tool to build visual effect and consequently I make sure each one says something.

Pastel Strokes
Pastel Strokes

Continuing to work the whole canvas as I block in the composition, I continue to pay very close attention to strokes and shapes.

 

 

Snow in Pastels

Pastel Winter Harbor
Winter Harbor

How to make Snow in Pastels?  Well.. living in Maine in the winter teaches this! Everyday it snows or there is snow on the ground is a lesson in white… the full range of white like Gandolf’s cloak. Here on the Schoodic Peninsula we have our own weather system.. I must ask the local fisherman if we have our own vocabulary for all the kinds of snow, sleetly, poofy flaked, dry pelting ,wet slushy and wet packing snows.

In pastels I have two large trays of whites- I have them sorted by warm and cool colors. I pick from these trays the whites that are right for the scene I am observing and for the feeling I want to create. This is our dusk the sky is a deep purple blue but down by the horizon are pinks and warm yellows – NOT COOL yellows I have to be very careful not to mix these two.

Snow is essentially a rounded geometric form so once i have identified from which direction the sun is coming I form the snow accordingly. The sun’s light was warm so began with warmth then as the mound moves into shadow it is cool then there is reflected warm light thend darker shadow. Then of course there is the snow in deep shadow which I build up with middle values blue greys. The last step is I find the pattern of light I want dancing through the trees and go in with my lightest warm white and layer it on. In life, this makes the whole piece pop and gives the patterns conhesiveness.

Painting Snow in Pastel

Snow PAstel
Winter Harbor Wet Heavy Snow

Painting Snow in Pastel is full of dsnuance. In pastels I have two large trays of whites- I have them sorted by warm and cool colors. I pick from these trays the whites that are right for the scene I am observing and for the feeling I want to create. This is our dusk the sky is a deep purple blue but down by the horizon are pinks and warm yellows – NOT COOL yellows I have to be very careful not to mix these two.

Snow is essentially a rounded geometric form so once i have identified from which direction the sun is coming I form the snow accordingly. The sun’s light was warm so began with warmth then as the mound moves into shadow it is cool then there is reflected warm light then darker shadow. Then of course there is the snow in deep shadow which I build up with middle values blue greys. The last step is I find the pattern of light I want dancing through the trees and go in with my lightest warm white and layer it on. In life, this makes the whole piece pop and gives the patterns cohesiveness.

Mixing Spring Greens

Whether one mixes greens from blues and yellows or uses greens from the tube, greens need to be warmed. Mixing greens for Eastern spring is fun. But I just figured out, not so much a formula but a Guiding Principal. I am a bit embarrassed it has taken me this long to articulate it. To determine which warm color to use to warm a green consider the color of the blossom of the plant. This is crystal clear in irises. The green beneath the very pale yellow under the blossom is a purplish color the hue of which looks to have dripped down from the blossom. I have 5 different irises in my garden and each of them a different variation of purple. Each color is part of the green make especially under the blossom.

While I am sure this is not Gospel truth that there will be times to change the warming hue, but it can be a start to create subtle shifts of spring greens.

garden oil painting
Into The Sun

Choosing Pastels

There are so many pastels .. and they are not cheap. How does one choose which to purchase.

Nupastel has a 96 stick set. These colors are clear, not chalky and cove a range of values and hues. I take them on location and complete most of a painting.  They are a very good beginning set.

I add next a Sennilier Black Green and  Terry Ludwig deep purple. These two colors provide the deep darks not provided in the other set.

Fall Skirts