Hi... I'm working on another large studio painting right now and will probably be posting the results in a couple of days or so. In the mean time I'm resurrecting a pastel demo that I did a few years ago for the online magazine 'Tastes Like Chicken'. I'm not even sure if it's still in existence anymore??? I haven't photographed one in some time on location so this one is back. Setting up and shooting one on location is fraught with hazards. If you do this, you need the camera on a tripod left in the same location and because it's probably not far behind your working station, it's easy to back into it and knock it over...done that! Oh, then there's remembering to take photos at the key places in the progression...have forgotten to do that too! Or the battery dies, the sun shifts (because the painting goes too long)...blah, blah, blah! Maybe I'll do one again soon???? :-)
This was a plein air piece, painted in west central Wisconsin at a park called 'Rieck's Lake Park' (spelling?). It's the mouth of the Buffalo River and on the border of MN/WI and right next to the "Mrs-sippi" River (that's my own short cut in spelling :-), into which it empties. When I lived in southern MN I used to paint at this location a lot summer, spring, fall and winter. In the spring and fall it's a holding spot for all types of waterfowl and birds of prey. Most importantly for Swans ( thousands ) and Bald Eagles.
I spent the normal hour and a half on the painting plus the time to step back and click the shutter on the camera behind me. The pastel is painted on Wallis 'Belgian Mist' sanded pastel paper. I loved this paper but then the surface grit changed and it just didn't cut the grade for me anymore. Now I use 'UArt' sanded paper in various grits.
The final piece is called "Glorious Fall" and is 10x12.
Step 1- Graphite pencil lay in of basic shape divisions. I use a lead holder and either 5H or 2H on the sanded paper.
Step 2- Initial block in of color. From this step forward it's just a refining of the elements of the composition and details.
Step 3- I first add the pastel in a fairly 'open' stroke, meaning that I don't smother the paper with pastel pigment just yet.
Step 4- Once I have the major areas blocked in, I use a paper towel, usually a Viva, to 'wash' the initial pastel layers into the paper surface. I can't make the pastel transparent, as with oil, so this is the way to do that to some visual degree. It also unifies the surface and covers a lot of the paper's texture. I like the texture showing through a little so I don't completely cover it up. Sometimes this step of washing with a towel creates surfaces that are just gorgeous and are left, or left with only a little addition of more pastel.
Step 5- From this step forward I am squinting "very hard" to eliminate all but the strongest lit parts of the trees and leaves. I want to paint the essence of the detail, not all of the detail. Really squinting down eliminates all but the strongest shapes in the very bright lights and very dark accents.
Step 6 - Finish.
I remember this day as one of those 'file this one' sort of fall days. People all over along the river road viewing fall color and hitting the little cheese and apple shops that line the roads in this part of Wisconsin. The swans had not shown up in force yet, but there were plenty of coots.