Thursday, February 4, 2016

Painting out of My Comfort Zone

Close up at Stage 4 shown below
Pastel, 18"x24"
I have painted many years mostly landscapes with rarely people in them, or without much in the way of man-made objects. The occasional barn or street scenes but mostly the "pure" landscape. Lately I have tried to move a little more out of my comfort zone of trees, rocks and water. And, I have gone to live model sessions to help me do something that is harder for me! This is a good lesson for anyone that is an artist ... do things occasionally that are not what you normally do!

So, I am going to show the progression shots of the one currently on my easel. I have completed two other paintings that are technically not landscapes... where this one is more about the landscape, but with the added element of the canoe and three people in the canoe. I'll show you those other two at the bottom of the post.

First light layer of pastel
Wet with alcohol for under-painting

The first layers of pastel!

Here is how I laid in the first of the composition with a light layer of pastel after I had done a "road map" type of drawing. The road map for me is not a detail drawing, but more placement of the elements in the correct proportions and placement on the surface.

The colors chosen for this first layer help me in my later choices of color and value. I tend to paint rather cool paintings, so it has helped me to use warmer under-paintings... it sparkles through some of the later layers! It gives it life in my view.

The under-painting in alcohol!

I put a small amount of denatured alcohol in a small glass jar and using a soft brush, I liquify the first layer of pastel. As you can see above, I am light-handed with that layer, but it created quite a solid mass of color, rather more opaque.

Beginning to add more pastel on the under-painting
I really didn't want it quite that solid. Some color pigments seem to do this while others will give me a more transparent coverage. I will have to remember the stick I used and decide to try a different one next time... such as something with alizarin crimson ... more transparent.

Choosing Colors!

At this stage, I am deciding to add the colors and values I have in my mind that will help tell the story. I am very lightly adding those most of the time since I love the process of layering in pastel. I like trying about three colors for the sky, which sets the tone of the rest of the painting and maybe I will not go back into the sky except for adjustments as I work on the trees above the bridge.

Refining some of the possible focal point
This stage also helps me determine if I have shapes and sizes that are in the right proportion. I did decide the bridge was a little too thick at the top and adjusted the sides it to a slimmer proportion.

Playing with adding some details!

Adding more pastel and a few details... which helps me decide how many details. What will help and what will hurt! I know at this stage, which is where I stopped for the day, those tree limbs will be too much detail, and will be adjusted as I go along... a little too picky for me!

But, I don't know that until I try it. I love the process of brushing off... which many times is really the effect I was trying to achieve in the first place! It will be fun to enter the studio with fresh eyes today.

Here are two of my latest paintings that were out of what I call my "comfort zone." I guess I mean "out of my comfort zone" to be out of my landscape arena... which is my first love... you know trees, rocks and water! Enjoy ...

"I Like the Sun" Pastel 16"x20"

"My Ride to Work" Pastel 16"x12"

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