Pastels


I’ve avoided embracing the excitement over Artist Trading Cards ….. until now.

Black Bush Sage

Black Bush Sage

I awoke late.  The sky was the color of cantaloupe.  As I sipped my coffee I created my first ACEO.  When I taught the workshop in Santa Rosa last month, Joanie nudged me to try creating a few trading cards.  After several weeks, my resistance faded.  I resolved the problem of working on such a small piece of paper (2.5″ x 3.5″) by stitching a sketchbook just for the ACEOs.  The sketchbook pages measure 4″ x 5.5″, a slightly more comfortable size to work on.
Now that I have my new website with my own little store, I can offer these little gems without a hassle, either cut to standard ATC size or full-page size for framing.

Full Page - Black Bush Sage

Full Page – Black Bush Sage

The sketchbook was created with a boring cover.  My intention is to cut the pages out as they sell.  If I liked the cover, I wouldn’t cut the pages out.  I always have to trick myself.  The little drawings I do in my sketchbook I like far better than the drawings I do on separate pieces of paper with the intention of selling.  I end up with boxes full of drawings that I eventually throw away.  The problem was that I won’t cut pages out of my personal sketchbooks.  The solution is to make specific sketchbooks that are intended to be cut apart.

Will I be able to trick my brain?  Time will tell.

Image: Black Bush Sage Against a Melon Sky – drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor.

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Posting this image after returning from Robert Wood Johnson Hospital is oxymoronic, yet in many ways quite appropriate, though only a very few, older folks might understand.

Pumpkin Disguised as Female Nude

The phone rang at 2 pm….

Sad news.

I stopped working on my new website and drove to the hospital.  KLA and I met when we were eleven years old.  Our friendship was sporadic, but true.  As I sat holding her hand, alone for an hour, I focused on the better memories.  I let go of her hand to draw her … a drawing I will never post.  I held her hand again.  When the nurse asked me leave, I said bid farewell.

The plug will be pulled at 5 pm tomorrow evening.

She would have liked this post.  She was an amazing photographer who lost track of the path she once walked.

Image: Watercolor and pastel

While writing the check for the latest delivery of heating oil my mind wandered to thoughts of Spring and the new shapes and colors that will fill the landscape and delight my eyes.  I remembered the series of pastel paintings I did several years ago of fresh lilies from the garden.

Lilies, pastel painting

This pastel painting was done prior to my return to study of color and prior to my squiggle ink drawings.  I’m amused when I recognize the roots of something that has developed into a technique that I return to again and again such as the squiggles.  I remember playing with the warm and cool variations of the colors hoping to create an illusion of depth, but felt that I didn’t understand what I was doing enough to push the painting any further without overworking the paper and losing the brilliance that I love so much about pastel.  When I look at the painting now, I understand a great deal more than I did back then.  Perhaps I will attempt another lily painting when the weather turns warm, the garden is abloom and I’m no longer writing checks to the oil company.

 

In a previous post I mentioned my musician/artist friend John.

Portrait of John Booth, Pastel, 1979

John and I took turns modeling for one another.  He was strongly influenced by John Singer Sargent.  I think Sargent would have been pleased with John’s paintings.  I recall a life-size painting of his wife in the garden gathering flowers.  The painting took my breath away.  I hope he is still alive and well.  I hope he is still painting.

During the late 70’s I did a great number of portraits.  Then I stopped.  I moved in a more experimental direction.  In 2005 I began to get the urge to include hands, heads and feet on the abstract, thrown paint watercolor figures that I had become known for.  I found I had become rusty at heads.  Every head looked like me.  Looking back at these older paintings is fueling the urge to return to studying facial expressions and character portraits.

The initial watercolor sketch

The abstract directional forces of the little sketch appeals to me.  I wanted to play with it using totally different colors that stayed within the values but steered clear of green.

While sitting in the waiting room for my pre-surgery testing this morning I read several more pages of Charles W. Hawthorne’s Hawthorne on Painting.  He constantly writes about “spots of color”.  He says to “Draw as little as is compatible with your conscience — put down spots of color.  Seeing things as silhouettes is drawing — the outline of your subject against the background, the outline and size of each spot of color against every other spot of color it touches, is the only kind of drawing you need bother about.  If you do that faithfully you will be surprised at the result.  Think in color, think in color volume.”  I don’t totally agree, but I like the direction his thoughts push me in.

Playing with spots of color

I decided to play with the composition.  Hawthorne is referring to en plein air painting.  This experiment was done in the studio and there was no attempt at matching color spot against color spot.  I was simply playing with color and spots.

Though the little sketch has unsolved problems, I will move on.  the skeleton of the compositional design still intrigues me and I am going to develop it further.  I lost some lights in the second sketch and attempted to retrieve them with a bit of pastel.

I had a great time playing with it.

One more pastel squiggle ……

"Lily" Pastel

I’ve opted to post another of the Floral squiggles rather than the watercolor sketches of the giant cedar tree that is challenging me at the moment.

Older work:

"Lily" pastel on paper

Several years ago I was asked to create a series of floral pieces using pastel.  It was winter.  I had no choice but to work from photographs.  Usually I would block in large areas and work boldly with the pastels.  I find I am a bit more restrained when working on commissioned or requested pieces.  I created all six floral pieces using a slow, meditative technique similar to my ink squiggle drawings.

I had forgotten about these pieces until I was going through old files last week.  No wonder the squiggle technique felt so familiar to me.

"Gladiola" pastel on paper