Monday, December 20, 2010

"Figure and Reflection" pastel painting

This is a recent pastel painting called "Figure and Reflection" It is 38" X 48" in size and was created on a very large handmade archival paper called PASTEL DELUXE (doesn't that say it all?) I purchased the surface at New York Central Art Supplies in NYC at the Paper Room upstairs in the store. Anyone who loves to work on handmade paper should know about this wonderful place. It is special. You can look at papers of all kinds, for all purposes all hanging on large racks just like you were looking at large rugs. Papers for watercolor, for pastel, for drawing, for printmaking etc etc. You can also find handmade papers in binders or books to work on. One time years ago, I bought a 40" x 60" size of 1800 lb. watercolor paper to do a large epic pastel on. It was so thick and was like material. Can you imagine? It was very sturdy and workable.
"Figure and Reflection" was drawn and painted on Pastel Deluxe and was created in stages. The entire work was done from life (that means from a model in front of me) and took several days to do. The model was my eldest granddaughter who had always wanted to model for a figure painting but wanted to be sure of having a certain amount of modesty. So as a result you can actually see more of a woman in a bikini at the beach than what is revealed in this painting.
I began my drawing with my nupastels, sharpened to a point and started estimating the proportions of the figure as well as the mirrors and her reflection inside of them. I used a light touch as I studied her and the elements around her. I designed a composition pleasing to me and one in which the viewer would be tempted to enter into. On the right side in the blurred reflection of my artist/friend Diane Aeschliman and on the left side is another male artist in the studio painting the model.
As I got more sure of the areas and shapes within my painting and achieved the drawing and negative spaces around my drawing to my liking, I began to put in the shadows of my forms and the cast shadows from those forms. I also find that totally interesting. It is an exciting part of my drawing for me. I continuously compare line to line, angle to angle , shape to shape and use my pastel to create a plum line to make comparisons as I draw. The more an artist makes those comparisons and judgements about what they see, the more they exercise the right side of the brain. That is the side of the brain an artist naturally uses. You can exercise the use of the right side of your brain by  constantly practicing drawing.
I then use darker and darker sharpened nupastels and also change for cool to warm and warm to cool as I become confident and more accurate in my likeness. In the areas that are in shadow, I chose to use a wash of turpentine with a brush to fill in the tooth of my paper and make the areas more solid. With such a large work it helped a great deal to do this. At times I put in a thin medical glove to carefully move the pastel around with my fingers. I used girault pastels ( softer than my nupastels) and then used my sennelier set of (526) pastels that I consider my main set. I also used some darks from Terry Ludwig to increase the depth of my darks and went back and forth to be sure of having darks, middle tones, and lights in each form.
Each day the model posed, her position changed somewhat and so did the fabric that was draped around her . The objects and elements also changed somewhat as well as the temperature of the morning light and the afternoon light in the studio. Morning it was cool and afternoon was warm. The challenges before me with each painting are what excites me .  I see it, I feel it and I jump into it with my skill and experience and fall in love. Yes, it is a state of being and I am in it when I paint. I am in another realm and it is passionate and sensitive and it is me.
I sprayed my work in between the layers of pastel only to darken the values and roughen the texture so that I could put on more layers of my pigment and my drawing would become more painterly . It is a fine line from drawing to painting in pastel. You just know it when you cross that line and all of the values, hues, warms and cools, darks, middle tones and lights begin to sing and the composition is enhanced by all of those choices you have made.

This painting was framed by my framer. Yes, I said my framer because that is the way I feel about the framer who selects the final surrounding for my art work and sets it apart from all else. I trust my framer's choices and decisions for enhancing my paintings and he knows my style, my palette and my way of expressing myself. I might as well give him a plug as he is Joel from Essex House of Framing in Centerbrook, CT
The final step in painting is to frame the work tastefully, artistically and for the enhancement of that work. Not to match a sofa or drapes. Pastels must be archival framed and have a spacer or a distance between the glass and the pastel. Matting and spacers are important. I introduce all of my students who work in pastel or on paper to Joel . He is reliable and professional and that is what I need.
Before I go to the framer, My work goes to Caryn Davis Photography in Chester, CT (my town)and she professionally photographs each of my completed works in high resolution and a jpeg format as well. She sends me on my way with a disc with my two images on them and I download on my computer into a file for use and I file the disc into a folder also.
The image can be used for juried exhibitions, publicity, postcards, giclees, etc. etc. I also use any photos of me next to my work for publicity, news releases, and guess what ..... my blog! In this photo you can see just how large this pastel actually is.
"Figure and Reflection" is currently on display at Maple and Main Fine Art Gallery in Chester, CT.
Hope you enjoyed learning about this painting in pastel

1 comment:

  1. Claudia, I am looking forward excitedly to taking your class in pastels at Maple & Main in January and February. I know I'll learn to improve my drawing techniques while I'm learning how to use my pastels professionally. Thanks for offering the class. ~Joan