Sunday, December 4, 2016

Pastels and Preliminaries

Irises 8x10 pastel on paper
It's been far too long since I've done anything in pastel. Lately it's been oil. watercolour and lots of charcoal and conté crayon. It was like spending time with an old friend. My dusty, messy old friend.
Lately I've been on this, try something different kick. I blame it all on my friend John. He made a comment earlier in the year, referring to something as being "in my wheel house".  He wasn't being mean he was simply stating that the subject matter was what I normally gravitate towards. After he said it I immediately thought, crap, I must be getting stale, or too predictable. After that I started choosing subject matter that was not in my "wheel house".  I'm glad he said it because I've been having quite the adventure trying out new things. Don't get the wrong idea, I totally go back to that same subject matter that I feel safe with but now I'm just adding a few new things in here and there to try them out.
Another thing I've been trying out is doing several preliminary sketches before committing to a composition. Before I would usually just do a value study to work from. It serves the purpose for both the correct values and composition. This new system of doing sketches usually doesn't take that long and they're a great warm up.  I gave myself permission to do these extra sketches after one day when I couldn't decide which shirt to wear.  If I can drag out 10 shirts, try on each one, maybe more than once, before making a decision, I can certainly put forth that time and effort into trying out compositions. Honestly I could have told you how much time I waste trying to beat the bad guy in video games but I thought the shirt thing would be more relatable.
In this picture you can see the three different charcoal sketches I did for the pastel up above. The choice was tough but much like the shirts, sometimes you just have to put one on, walk out the door and be confident with your final choice.


  1. Boy, that's a great comparison - I wonder how many other dumb things we lavish significant amounts of time on to "get right"? Sketches are relatively fast to do.
    The color is quite nice on this one but I really like the B&W versions just as much. The wonderful thing about preparatory sketches is that you're simultaneously focused and not invested.

  2. Thanks. I know I waste a lot of time trying to get things "just right" and I blame it on the 80s and the bad hairstyles. Wasting that much time and hairspray turned into bad habits in life. Seriously, we should just waste time and be particular about important things.
    I prefer the sketches to the final pastel but I couldn't figure out how to replicate the black and white on different paper. I did the charcoal on newsprint.