Saturday, 16 July 2011

A simple beach scene in pastel and the effect of minor details.

Following the last post, I took out my pastels again. It had been quite a while since I had used them and I was looking for an idea for simple composition to get my hand in again. I seem to switch between watercolours and pastels regularly with a dabble with acrylics now and again. Nice to keep myself on my toes, but I always seem to need to play around with each media for a little before I try a major painting. re-learning the hand / brush movements because each is so very different to any of the others. Pastels and acrylics allow overpainting whereas watercolour of course is not so forgiving. I always make use of this ability to lay a background colour, often a complementary hue before painting the true colour for an object.

For example, I will colour any grass area red/orange before layering over this with a green/yellow hue. My prefered method of using pastels is to prepare the painting with the complementary colours and then to fix them. I tend to use cheap hairspray for this, it works well and it smells nice. I will then use the pastel on its side to wipe on the second and third colours. I find that this allows the development of a very useful texture. I first found out about this technique when creating abstracts but I now use it for virtually all my pastel paintings.

You can see this effect most clearly in the sky in this WIP image, although it is also used in the foreground and in the hills behind the building. The unfinished appearance of the painting is striking when compared to the completed work although only a few minor details are added.

I have slightly darkened the purple hills and the texture is now almost hidden, but have added shadows to the left of the nearer hills to give a little detail and bring them forward a little. A few minor additions to the buildings and their connection to the ground upon which they stand help to identify and ground them. Further layering of colours to the foreground adds texture to bring it forward. And most importantly, the boat is modelled with shadow. The last addition was the grasses/reeds in the lower left corner to add a touch of balance, without overpowering the very simple composition. Just shows what the addition of a few details can do for a painting, however never go too far. Know when to stop. It is easy to add more but difficult to take it away again.

I have to say that I do in fact like this and will probably frame it. I have already had one or two appreciative comments, which makes it all worthwhile from members of my art group and from contacts on Flickr where you can see a larger image of the finished work.

I will try to post a better explanation of the technique I use in another post, take a few more pictures which show the progress of the painting, as the pastel is applied. I have not seen this written about anywhere else and would be grateful if you have seen a tutorial to perhaps let me know. At the moment, I keep saying that it is a technique I have developed but am open to being shown otherwise.

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