Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pasteling in New York City

I'm jumping around again. Quite a while ago, I signed up for Richard McKinley's pastel & oil workshop through the Salmagundi Club in NYC so here I am. Unfortunately, its been cold and gray but we've been having fun. Here I am on Tuesday with my painting of Washington Square and NYU buildings in the background. Working in pastel on white Wallis paper. We painted in the square all day and what lively day it was. I've never met so many friendly people while out painting. Passers by were constantly coming up to us and asking questions. Today it rained so we painted inside from photos. It was helpful learning from Richard how to bring the photos to life on the canvas or paper. Tomorrow we go to Central Park and hoping its warmer and sunny.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Continuing work on the portrait

I've continued with the flesh tones in her face, building up values carefully not to darken her skin tones too much. Next I moved onto her eyes, eyelashes and eyebrows. For her pupils, I used Sepia and Warm Gray 90% as I found Black to be too strong and harsh. I worked the irises by layering Goldenrod, Burnt Ochre, Sienna Brown, Dark Brown, Sepia and Warm Gray 90%. I added a bit of Tuscan red to make her eyes pop but just slightly so I can erase it if it becomes overpowering. Eyelashes and eyebrows were worked in Dark Brown, Sepia and Warm Gray 90% very softly. I found if I applied the eyelashes to darkly, it looks as if she is wearing black mascara.

I'm breaking the portrait into workable parts so I don't get overwhelmed. Its approximately 15x20" which is larger than life (the way I like to work). I was ... and still am ... afraid that if I don't get the eyes just right, I can ruin the whole portrait because her eyes portray all the feeling in the piece. Now I am moving onto the hair. The left side is quite dark. I used Dark Umber, Sepia, Black, Chestnut and Prismacolor Lightfast Indanthrone Blue, which I prefer to Indigo because its a rich dark blue and less acidy than Indigo. I have more work to do on the left side but I have decided to leave it alone for now. I'm beginning the highlights in her hair with Clay Rose. Her chestnut brown hair has subtle highlights of reds and violets and so many strands. I'm finding it quite a challenge.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Trying something new!

I have been inspired to work on a portrait of my niece, Samantha. My sister in law took this beautiful photo about two years ago and working from this photo has been on my mind ever since. I have my sister in law's permission to draw from her photo and feel confident because I can study Samantha in person whenever I need to because, luckily, she lives in the next town. I love the composition and the way Samantha hides behind the flower with dramatic eyes and my goal is to bring this to life in my portrait.

So, not being a portrait artist, where do I begin? I have Ann Kullberg's book "Colored Pencil Portraits Step by Step" as a guide and began the skin tones with colors and values recommended by Ann which is very helpful. My beginning drawing looks awkward because I am trying to accomplish the correct skin colors, tones and values before I begin adding all the other features. As Ann suggests, I have begun with giving the entire face a wash in Cream and Light Peach Prismacolor Pencil. You won't believe how many layers of different pencils are creating the skin thus far and you won't believe how many hours I've spent working on just getting the tones and values correct. But I'm not counting the hours because I've enjoyed every one. Here is a list of all the colors I've used: Cream, Light Peach, Deco Pink Beige, Pink Rose, Peach, Mineral Orange, Rosy Beige, Blush Pink, Clay Rose, Pink, Burnt Ochre, Henna and Prismacolor Lightfast Light Red Oxide. Samantha's skin tones are more pink than orange so I've omitted the some of the yellows and browns Ann suggests in her book. For the darker values and shadowed areas I have chosen my own palette of colors which include Luminance brand Manganese Violet, Prismacolor Dahlia Purple, Prismacolor Chestnut, Periwinkle, Coloursoft Grey Green and Prismacolor Lightfast Cobalt Turquise because she has green in her skin tone shadowed areas. For her bright pink cheeks I used Prismacolor Lightfast Carmine Red and Madder Lake. When you look at the photo of my drawing above, its hard to believe that I've used all those colors!