Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dahlias in Blue Vase

Most people associate the word pastel with certain colors. But pastel sticks are available in the full value range (very dark to very light) and in every color imaginable. Pastel sticks are made with the same pigments that are used to make oil paint but they are mixed with a small amount of gum binder rather than oil. Oil paint tends to yellow or crack with age but not so with pastels. The color stays brilliant. My pastel paintings are framed with museum glass that eliminates glare and protects from UV rays.

Light and shadow painting uses a single light source to create drama and depth. When painting a still life, I spend quite a bit of time on the set up, concentrating on how the objects are placed in order to establish a focal point plus move the viewer’s eye around the picture. I think a lot about color harmony. 

I paint on Wallis brand archival sanded paper. The sanded paper has a rough surface that can hold lots of pastel. I begin with an outline sketch just to get the objects placed correctly in the composition. Then I get the background in because it helps me to judge the values as the painting progresses. On the flower area in this painting I first put a few strokes of pastel color and then brushed over them with rubbing alcohol. This made a pastel wash that filled that area with color. I let it dry before working over it. Like the background, this underpainting helps me to judge values. 

Pastel is a very flexible medium. It can be brushed off or erased. It can be blended or layered. I do a lot of blending with my fingers. I wear an old shirt and am constantly wiping the pastel off of my finger on the shirt. By the end of a day’s work, I am covered in color! 

This framed 12 X 12 pastel painting "Dahlias in Blue Vase" is available from Hunter Wolff Gallery in Colorado Springs, CO. It's priced at $700.