Monday, December 13, 2010
My Pastel Portrait of Lauren, my student
This pastel portrait was inspired by a young girl that I mentored for 2 yrs. until she went off to Boston this past Sept to the Boston College of Fine Arts with some great scholarships, awards and acheivements, along with two other fine young artists I mentored along with Lauren. She first came to me with colored pencil drawings that were a bit gothic and depicting wolves and other wild animals. As I began to teach her and share with her over the years, her drawing ablity just sky rocketed, her handling of pastel and oil was solid and professional looking, and of course she won my heart as did each of my mentoring students.
Lauren liked to streak her hair red tones and as a red head myself, I wanted to paint her with this intense red color in her hair and her light romantic blue eyes and a soft quietness in her appearance.
I chose to use a warm gray (felt gray) canson paper (archival) and used the smooth side of the paper. Contrary to what our minds would tell us, this is the side that will allow you to build up the pastel the best and hold it on. The other side of the paper has an opened texture to it and will repel the pigment instead of allowing it to build up. I immediately used my nupastels in my drawing of Lauren in controlled system I use by started with a brown shade darker than the value of the paper and step by step I make my drawing darker and darker as I study my subject and get my likeness of her exact. I believe the eyes in a portrait are the most important to capture as I believe it captures the life of the person. I think when you look into someone's eyes you are looking into their soul, their spirit. So I take great care in studying that feature. After my drawing is complete, I begin to lay in my darks, just as I would with oil painting. I am working fat over lean also as I begin to use some softer pastels or pigments as I progress in my work. I work with Nupastels, then girault, perhaps some Schmicke pastels and then to my Sennelier set of 525 individual colors and values. It is my most important set the way in which I choose to work. In this portrait I chose to use some Terry Ludwig darks to step down my values in this painting so that the dark red hair, purples in the garments and greens in the back ground could set the tone for the intense half tones and beautiful lights that are full of color as well.
I let go o f the detail I am known for and just softened my edges and brought more focus to her eyes.
This painting is special to me, has been exhibited and won awards in juried exhibitions and is currently on display at the Holiday Exhibition at the Lyme Art Association in Old Lyme, CT until Jan. 8, 2011.