Sunday, February 26, 2012

One Magnolia - Georgia O'Keefe Style

One Magnolia
6"x7" Soft Pastel on Mi-Tientes

I made this to contribute to a challenge to try to paint up close and frame-filling in the style of Georgia O'Keefe. I had never painted a magnolia before and this is only my 3rd attempt at soft pastels. I must admit I am liking them and feel I may need to upgrade. I have "Hobby Lobby" variety at this time which is at best a student grade. With pastel sticks starting around 2.00 or may just be a while.
I didn't have any sort of light palette. I had fuschia, turquoise, and a creamy orange that I used to lay in the values. I then took about 1/4 of my white stick to try to make the colors I was missing. Maybe I'll buy some singular sticks in a white palette to start my collection, as you should really never use true white in your artwork if you can avoid it. 
Check out the progression... I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Working Loose - A new thing for me - Street Scene

I was challenged this week by a blog that encouraged you to "Simplify"... that is, don't sweat the small stuff! As someone who thrives on details, I found that I needed to take that step. I worked quick and small, knowing that if I went bigger, it would give me room to put more details; If I kept at it, I would somehow find a way to finagle lots of details in where I thought they should be!

City Scene One
Soft Pastel on Strathmore sketch; 5"x 8"
Working in a fairly new medium to me (the tabby in profile drawing below is my absolute first soft pastel piece ever; this is my second) I decided to let the implied colors thrive. It was fun. I am only somewhat satisfied as I cannot feel it as complete, as simplified as it is from the original. I must learn restraint! I do enjoy the learning experience that comes from this. I will work more on being "loose" and a bit more abstract. 

As always, I would love your critiques and comments. This is new composition and a new medium. Heck, I've never even done a landscape before, much less a busy street scene! Be kind. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Siamese Cat on Newspaper - Black and White Pastel / Charcoal

Step 1. Charcoal Block In of Siamese Cat on Newspaper

Step 2. Lay in mid tones and grays in Siamese and newspaper
Working on a new project. I want to try out the pastels some more. Still not sure how I'm going to work this one out. 
Step 3. Start to lift some color out of paper with eraser and
detail the newspaper

The subject is a Siamese Cat, with vividly lit eyes doing what cat's do... crawling into the middle of the newspaper and getting comfortable. I got the idea to start this piece after I put a piece of paper I was measuring for my next piece on the ground (my first mistake), and my cat decided to walk right into the middle, essentially destroying it for professional work (wrinkles and crinkles). 

This is not my cat but the situation reminded me of a photo circa 1947 that I had in one of my cat books. I had been wanting to endeavor it but I am not the most patient what with all the newspaper print. It *will* be interesting, especially since it is French! Work in progress. Will continue to keep updated as I progress.

I toyed with the idea of coloring in the cat. Seal Point Siamese Cats have such beautiful cream coats and creamy brown "points" or darkenings. I started with the blue eyes as my first bit of color, and, well, I kind of stopped there.

A pop of color. Cat eyes are so fun. Starting to detail
the paper and Siamese cat

What do you think? 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Color Theory - A Study in Contrast Block-in - Soft Pastel

Lately I have been devouring information like an art student about things I had really  taken for granted when I was attending art class. In the last week I have learned about color - theories and ways to improve my craft. 

The coolest thing I learned recently and never knew was that if you "block-in" a piece, that is, take the dark areas and the light areas and create color maps or blocks of color, and instead use a color opposite on the color wheel (For this orange cat, I used a blue block in... light blue for the brighter parts and turquoise-type blue for the darker brown areas; for the green background, I started with lavender for the bright areas and fuschia for the darker greens). 

The reasoning behind this is that any color next to its contrast color will "vibrate" or pop. Using contrast palettes to start with creates a certain richness that come from the blending of these colors. When the contrast color pops through, there is more depth and complexity overall. 

As an artist who is used to creating by drawing exactly what I see, it would have been normal habit for me to block in the cat in creams and oranges, and lay in the browns before coming over top with the details. The final piece may be more bright and sunshiny, but for today's attempt, I was going for a bit more depth and tone. 

This is the result of this study, and I am very happy with the outcome. The blue that pops through the cat's fur definitely makes the piece more interesting. I never would think, hmm.. lowlights in blue, but it definitely works. The soft pastels are very "loose" (not a lot of detail, or tightness) and since I do not have pastel pencils, (which help with the refined strokes, since they are able to be sharpened like a pencil) some things are lacking in detail, such as the eyes and nose. 

I would love your feedback and encourage you to try a small picture with this style and see if you enjoy the outcome. 
5" x 6" on Strathmore white paper 
tinted first with blue and gray

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I started working on the concept of a reflection of this Westie but am struggling with the lack of "physics"in this piece. What I mean, would think, even though this is a highly polished floor he is sitting on (and I am referencing from a photo) that there would be a darkening of the floor and dog, but in actuality it is quite bright and even brighter in some spots rather than darker, even though the floor is of a terra-cotta coloring. 

I think the sun is emblazoning it to make it brighter, rather than making the subject diminutive. I may have to crop out about half of the reflection to not make it such a focal point, though I am enjoying the attempt at creating it. Others have told me I should take out the reflection or darken it...but the photograph tells me otherwise. Should I go with artistic license or take a chance at actual recreation? (my strong point... I don't consider myself a creative artist as much as a good reference artist). I'd love your feedback. I may change the crop and concept. We will see! Thanks for viewing.