Tuesday, March 03, 2009
THREE FAVORITE THINGS - SCRIBBLE AND DOODLE
This pastel is somewhat of a Kodak moment and one of my first paintings in soft pastel. At the time I was still experimenting with this new medium, so I didn't have many of the shades of color I have now. I discovered quickly that oil is actually not such an expensive medium, compared to pastel.
But isn't it just "chalk" might you ask? It would be similar to say that a house is a heap of stones.
One needs different grades of softness and hardness of pastel sticks to reach certain effects. Some of the soft brands are $4-5 a stick not even 3 inches long!
Also, red and blue cannot be mixed to get purple like with other mediums. To get purple I would need to crosshatch the red stick on top of the blue stick, and some other shades to get the shade and nuance of purple I want.
Right now I own 180 sticks in 3 grades of soft/hardness and 50 pastel pencils for the edges. For the pencils I bought a charcoal sharpener, because with a "normal" sharpener the points kept breaking. This may sound like a lot of soft pastels, but to avoid that every painting ends up looking similar, I still buy on an average of 10 sticks and a couple of pastel pencils for each new painting. The results are worth it though!
As a matter of fact, I have seen artists who have thousands of pastel sticks. Now you know how true the expression "starving artists" could be if they don't have a spouse having a job in a field that brings in a regular salary!
But this is not the end yet of the purchases, since I drove 40 min. to this Art Supply Warehouse. First I only used Arches 140 lb. watercolor paper, but...I can get only so many layers of color on there.
I found Colorfix paper and Kitty Wallis paper. When you rub your finger against it, it feels like sanding paper. You'll understand that the spaces between the "sand" will hold more layers of pastel than smoother watercolor paper.
Some artists use spray when they are finished with the painting, and others refuse to use it, because spray tends to darken the colors. If you like to know how I came to paint with soft pastels, that's a story in itself, and you'll find it at www.Stgermainart.com.
In a way, this little painting of "Three Favorite Things" are scribbles compared to what I do now in pastel. The colors are bold and simple. They represent my life back then. The small vase with roses represents my colorful home life.
The bear represents my job, from being a huggy bear for the children to being a grizzly bear, going after abuse or injustice, for children and adults alike. The guestbook represents all of our family and friends. With some we met weekly as a group, and many others of different regions of the globe, who stayed with us overnight. The background window is a look into a mysterious world.
Then there was that Sunday afternoon in Athens, Greece. At first we didn't know whether this was a public park or not, since were were no signs and it was somewhat secluded. After some time, slowly families came out with their little children to see the ducks and geese. If you like to see the ducks up close, please click on the image to enlarge.
The exuberance I see here in the US in little children and the excitement of the parents were much more restrained here. The shadows make this an interesting scene. I know I broke a rule her in cutting off part of the woman's head, but I wanted the focus to be on the child looking at the ducks and geese, and keep this in a long narrow frame.
I love the velvety touch of soft pastel. Its durability stands surprizingly up to oil. Many famous painters have used soft pastel, not just as a preparation for an oil, such as Degas, Marie Cassat, and others.
My paintings, as well as my job, are for most part about very serious things in life. Once in a while I like my paintings to be light-hearted, playful, frivolous, or whimsical. These two pastels are in that category.