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Roan
08-16-2000, 10:18 PM
"Māthair na Gāidhealtachd"
(Highland Mother)

Note: this is also posted in the Critiques Forum, but since "to blend or not to blend" is a real point of contention for pastelists, I wanted to post it here as well. Please give me your feedback!

<U>Size:</U> original is 23 x 28, image is detail only.
<U>Pastels:</U> Rembrandt
<U>Surface:</U> Canson Mi-Tientes. Color - moonstone
<U>Subject:</U> This painting was done from a black and white studio portrait of my mother. The photo was taken in Glasgow during the very early 1940s. My mother died when I was 9 and I don't have any pictures of her other than this one and another that was taken around 1938 or so.

The following is a detail of one of my very first pastel paintings that I did (September 1999) before I resolved not to blend anymore. Personally, since I stopped blending my portraits, I hate the way they are coming out. This leads to my questions and pleas for help http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif --

Besides wanted critique, I have two questions:

1) As I stated above, I feel that blending (in my case, anyhow) in realistic portraits works better than not blending. I don't seem to have a problem getting muddy looks or anything like that. I just can't get the same smooth tonal effects when I don't blend. In a nutshell, I HATE my new portraits. Two of them are posted in here -- one is called "Cate" and the other "Paige". Comments? Help? Should I do what seems to work for ME or go with the flow and stop blending?

2) Have any of you ever attempted to paint from old black and white photos? Is there an easy way to figure out the color scheme based on the values in the pictures? Comments?

<IMG SRC="http://www.wetcanvas.com/Critiques/User/mom3.jpg" border=0>

Thanks and Hugs!

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Mar sin leibh an-drāsda,

Roan

VictoriaS
08-17-2000, 11:53 AM
I keep seeing "don't blend! Don't blend!" It seems to me they're simply two different effects -- like an oil painting can be done with heavy impasto brushstrokes or smooth, barely visible brushstrokes. Who's to say that one way is "better" than the other or that you should do it one way and never the other way?

I like blending pastels in skin tones. I think it's a matter of preference -- and since you're the one who's doing it, you get to decide how it's done and what it's going to look like. Don't succumb to pressure to never blend! That's my opinion, but I'm also very interested in hearing others. Was about to post this same topic myself.

Victoria

CT
08-18-2000, 04:22 PM
I usually combine blending and laying on unblended color in my pastels. As long as I don't lose the tooth of the paper in my blended "underpainting" I usually get the results that I want. That's how I get the exact colors that I want to lay my final colors onto.

Roan, I can't answer your question about getting color from black and white photographs. Imagination is the best tool I can think of.

I just saw two teeny weeny little eyeballs bounce off my desk onto the floor....I think my cat is eating them! God help us!

CT

Roan
08-28-2000, 11:06 PM
Well, the "ayes" have it :P

I've just posted Part II of "Māthair na Gāidhealtachd" in the Critiques forum. Done this month and . . . Blended!

Thanks guys!

Hugs!

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Mar sin leibh an-drāsda,

Roan

VictoriaS
09-14-2000, 01:34 PM
The current issue (Summer 2000) of Watercolor magazine has a pastel by Georgia O'Keeffe. Appears to me to be blended.

sassybird
09-14-2000, 03:12 PM
Speaking of blending. I have seen so many little tools for that use with pastels. I have always used my fingers, qtips, or a cotton pad. Is there any real advantage to these high priced little tools, or is it all hype?
I agree with Victoria. It is a matter of how the artist likes to work. I sometimes blend and sometimes only blend in certain parts of the piece. I do this with what ever medium I am working in.

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sass

Roan
09-18-2000, 10:10 PM
Originally posted by sassybird:
Speaking of blending. I have seen so many little tools for that use with pastels. I have always used my fingers, qtips, or a cotton pad. Is there any real advantage to these high priced little tools, or is it all hype? . . .


Hrm, some hype, some not :P I think it depends on your surface preference.

Personally, I can't see a point to buying those expensive "special" pastel blender sets unless you intend to use them only on Canson-type papers. They'd have to be made out of titanium for them to have a long life on sanded. Instead, I use two cheap, cheap Low-Cornell bristle brushes. A large 10 and a small 1. The 1 is almost dead. There's only about 1/8 worth of bristle left on it :P

Now, Color Shapers -- that's a different story. I love 'em! I use those for fine areas, like reins, eyes, ears, lips, small cast and crest areas and especially where I need a firm or definite line. I have one of each in size 6 and 2, but I find that the only ones I really use are the chisel 6, cup 6 and all the tapers. I do find that they tend to remove color, rather than blend it. I don't use them on sanded unless I have a few layers of color going or the sandpaper eats them.

Hugs!

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Mar sin leibh an-drāsda,
Roan
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"Am fear a ghleidheas a theanga, gleidhidh e a charaid."

LDianeJohnson
09-19-2000, 12:17 AM
Hi Roan,

Whether you blend or not is a matter of personal preference, effect desired and experience. To achieve a blended-type look without actually blending, you use smaller and smaller stokes with harder and harder pastels, overlaying strokes into one another. I call it "knitting" with pastel.

If you'd like to see a master at work using an unblended technique I highly recommend Daniel E. Greene's books/tapes to learn how. Unfortunately, he is no longer giving workshops after this year. If you are trying to achieve an actual, photographic duplication of a photo, blending is necessary, but use it as sparingly as needed. If you want a more lively, characterization of someone, use a less or no blending technique.

As for painting in color from b/w photos. This is a very difficult thing to do. Even if you think know someone's eye color for instance, you're still guessing. There is nothing like seeing someone in person. In the case of your mother's portrait, you absolutely can and must take liberties. I have been asked to paint color from b/w photos. Even with years of experience painting portraits, without the model or color photos at best, it's a guess. But it's also a good test of your capability.

Your portrait is nice, just keep squinting to see the values, select a consistent color range for the portrait (plus cools/warms of that color range) and work with it. One of the most common issues is how light you work in the lighted and highlighted areas. Key-in your lightest lights and darkest darks. Then, work as mid-tone as you can for as long as you can, then build up the lighter areas. Finally, apply in the final lights and richest darks. That way, you'll avoid a pasty light or blackish dark appearance.

It is hard to work on a parent. What a nice and memorable keepsake!

Diane

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LDianeJohnson.com (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com)

Roan
09-19-2000, 09:19 PM
Diane,

Thank you VERY much for your post! This is the type of advice I've been looking for and haven't gotten. Would you please, if you have the time, look at the latest portrait of my mother (unfinished and from another black and white photo) here:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/Forum21/HTML/001330.html

and tell me what you think? I noticed that when I turned off the lights in my "studio" and only my computer monitor was on, that the highlighted side appeared to not be bright enough. That I definitely need more very pale highlights on her cheekbone and along the side of her face -- I fear going TOO light.

I have the Daniel Greene video (65$ at Dakota) on my wish list. It's a little pricey for my budget at the moment. I really want it badly, tho.

Hugs!

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Mar sin leibh an-drāsda,
Roan
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"Am fear a ghleidheas a theanga, gleidhidh e a charaid."

LDianeJohnson
09-20-2000, 07:35 AM
Hi Roan,

So glad the info helped...I have posted a message on the latest painting you mentioned above. See you over there...

Diane

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LDianeJohnson.com (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com)

Roan
09-26-2000, 08:00 AM
Diane:

I'm starting a thread on painting from B&W military photos in the Portraits Forum. Would it be possible for you to repost your advice to me on painting from B&W photos in that thread? If you are busy, I can do it for you.

Thanks!

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Mar sin leibh an-drāsda,
Roan
-------------------
"Am fear a ghleidheas a theanga, gleidhidh e a charaid."