Monday, December 21, 2015

Revealing my Inner Abstract

8x10 oil pastel on paper

After all those dog portraits, I really badly need to cut loose, so I've worked on some full on abstracts.  It felt great to work with colour, texture, form and composition completely unfettered.  This one is on rough watercolour paper.  It takes very thick layers of pastel to mash out the white bits.

early rough stage

after some scraping & more layers

And this one is oil pastel on gessoed masonite. Which was a fascinating exercise. So much texture and layering on what is almost a flat surface. I have no wip's for this, I just want to sink into the painting and go.

Mmmmm, texture

Where to next, who knows....

Friday, December 18, 2015

Oil Pastel, Tutorial, WIP's, Step by Step Pet Portrait

Dynamo & Riker, 9x12 oil pastel
For this one, I took a lot of progress shots, mostly out of curiousity. I've been working with oil pastels for a long time now, and finally it's coming together, so documenting the process is interesting to me. Paint by numbers, it is not.  Above, is mostly finished/finished (the final result with tape removed is my previous post). Here, though, are the tools I used, including a printed reference photo, and my android tablet.  Riker had his eyes almost shut in the ref. photo, and while I thought I knew him well enough to work it out on my own, I was mistaken.  I ended up having to scrap & erase back to white, find a better photo of Riker and work from that to finish Riker's face.

Here it is at the beginning, after I've taped off the edges, outlined delicately in pencil, I lay down thick white pastel for all the whites and highlights, followed by cream and light blue for warm mid-tones, and cool darks, respectively.

Some further fun with primary colours.

Middle stage, time to start scraping back with the art knife.

Just after scraping back, revealing some lovely colours, but needing details in darks and lights. Because of the white and blue layers below, highlights can be brought back in with the knife and soft eraser.  And the finish line, you've already seen.
That's it. Whether I'm doing 'realism' (or my reasonable facsimile thereof) or abstract, I pretty much use the same technique and steps.

And, on the 'waiting for Nino' front, I am so pathetic, I 'borrowed' someone's dog. This is Tessa, and she needed more exercise than her mom can give her; I needed some sunshine, so I borrowed her. Tessa thought she was being kidnapped, so I had to baby talk her all the way through. Sadly, Tessa's moving out of the neighbourhood soon, so I won't be borrowing her again.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Dogs, Cats and this and that

(Dynamo & Riker)
(9x12 Oil pastel on Strathmore Bristol)

Worked up another one of my favourite photographs into a memorial portrait of Dynamo with her best buddy Riker. Riker’s still truckin’ on with us, but have to admit, he’s in that ‘old-old’ stage of daily meds and frequent vet visits.
In the meantime, I received a commission of portrait of a yorkshire terrier.  Being for someone other than myself, I somewhat reigned in my style, for more realism, and realized (belatedly) that smaller is neither faster nor easier than larger work (lesson learned).

(Yorkie) (5x7 oil pastel on Strathmore Bristol)
And because all that realism and restraint drove me nuts, here’s the ‘illustrated Batman’, still taped, but I think he’s done.  (8x10 oil pastel and black staedler marker on watercolour paper)

(Batman) (8x10 oilpastel, pan pastel & black marker)
And, in the meantime, I’ve been wildly distracted by the prospect of getting a new dog. Said ‘new dog’ is scheduled to arrive in January, so I have a long wait. The cats are greatful. I’m not just excited, yeah, a new dog! but lots of worry thoughts too, how will the cats feel? Will everything work out, a new dog is not like getting a new couch.
I’ve been going through toys, leashes, dog beds, dog sweaters, gosh, I have an accumulated mountain of this stuff, to pass the time.

(Simba in the bag)
That’s Simba checking out the accumulated hiking and camping gear.  I also have squeaky clean, never been used designer collars (don’t ask), well used but comfy dog beds, dog sweaters (which are human adult cut-offs) all ready. The leashes still hang above the door, the dog bed is in the spare bedroom, all waiting…
for this dude.

He’s still in the Caribbean islands. He will need sweaters (at least for a bit--looks like he’s got a good wool coat ready to grow in as needed).
PS. I should have a ‘count the frisbees’ contest for the one pic. I have no idea how/why I have all those frisbees, only that Dynamo loved frisbees, and always having two the same meant she wouldn’t play ‘keep away’ (in theory).

So yeah, I’ve been distracted, doing too much thinking, too little art, trying to channel some of that energy into brushing up on training knowledge, doing my pet portraits, cruising various ‘dog forums’ and spending too much time worrying about this, that and the other thing that might go wrong. All of which, I think, is also part of grieving. Dynamo the senior, of course, was perfect. Senior dogs always are.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Life Drawing Tuesdays—Longer Poses and Pastels

10  minutes pose and a pencil.
1 hour pose, oil pastel.  I actually had a start for a different pose on the page, laid down in white & yellow, then, during break, just started scribbling colour over the entire page. When the model sat for this pose, I had a fully coloured page (light colours) and drew in the lines directly, eventually scraped back everything, then added in more oil pastel, and a little coloured pencil.
20 minutes, I must have been thinking of snow. Snow Queen.
And our previous nights model.  Black lines are graphite on oil pastel, which always generates a rich black. 
Fun fact: remember all that ‘scraping back’ I talk about?  I literally scrape off layers of oil pastel with an art knife. I guess I’m overly thrifty, as I decided to collect the scrapings, press them together, and voila, lovely lavender nuanced grey tone, so much better than the dead grey of a solid colour (I never actually use grey pastel because of that).  Must get a close-up next time I use my recycled scrap pastel ‘stick’.


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