View Full Version : Playing with my new pastels, assistance needed...

05-04-2015, 04:54 AM

as I finally got my new pastels and pastel paper, I hade a couple of weeks such a tight program with guests and grandchildren and such, I was not able to test my new toys. It was hard to keep calm... :angel:

Now I was able to do a couple of exercises, on Art Spectrum colorfix paper, using Rembrandsts, Art Spectrums, Jaxells and some Derwent pastel pencils. Felt like Christmas, opening all the boxes :)

Here the first one, showing an old barn corner from my childhood farm, with some wild flowers. Some barn gnomes might be hiding as well :)


My question: is this dull? Chalky? More contrast needed? Coming from watercolors I am just learning what NOT to do... No idea if the choice of paper color (dark grey) made any sense either, as I finally got almost everything covered wth pastels.

Here the second one, started like this, on white paper


ended like this


I wonder if the background is too "heavy"? I kept on adding darks to make the pears pop out. The paper has no tooth anymore, I'm afraid, yet I would love to hear your personal views about this.

Thanks you in advance for your patience :heart:

05-04-2015, 07:29 AM
Both of these are fun! No, I don't think the barn is too chalky, the old worn wood texture is great and yeah, it looks like barn gnomes might enjoy that riot of wildflowers! Very cool. Pears on a lace doily is very striking too. It looks almost modernist with that intense blue dark background. I don't think it's too dark at all, it's very intense though. That gives a look like a bold abstraction and it does work with the bright pears carving out shapes in it.

Both of these are striking but odd for not having linear perspective, that's the thing that reminded me of some modernist paintings. Very flat scene with the rounded pears seen at eye level to the table. I'm curious whether that was deliberate or not, also the doily is great with its pattern carved out against pure white but seems quite stiff, could have had creases or stamped patterns in the white with blue-gray shading if you wanted realism. But as it is, that looks cool in a modernist way. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, only a style thing and both of them have it in common.

05-04-2015, 12:37 PM
They both look fine to me! The first is really excellent - not dull nor chalky!


water girl
05-04-2015, 02:25 PM
I like both. You are handling the pastels very nicely. I do not have a problem with the dark blue background. It adds a bit of excitement. More please.....:thumbsup:

05-04-2015, 04:11 PM
I like both of these! And the gnomes made me smile. :)

05-05-2015, 04:02 AM
:clap: thank you
Robert - your analysis is very interesting (and flattering :heart: ) - I can see my exercises from a new perspective now. I was not aware of the missing perspective in the barn painting, the faint tree shape in the BG is hardly visible in the photo - it was meant to bring some depth into this. I will chek that again! Thank you for your assinstance and feedback!
Don - how kind of you!
Karen - thank you for your encouraging words, they feel so goooood
Blayne - yes, that's what gnomes do: make one smile. I did not intend to integrate them into this, then I saw one and added one :)

The pair of pears (I decided to name this "Three is a crowd" ) demanded I do something about the background, so I suddenly had an idea and tried it right away (at the end, this is only paper and pigment dust!). So, here it is:


If I would have had this idea in the beginning, I would have left the apple clearly outside the lace pattern. Well, as it is now, it's even less photorealistic.. I wonder how you see this?

05-05-2015, 10:09 AM
I love there Raxu. I always enjoy your work and your imagination

Donna T
05-05-2015, 10:40 AM
Very nice work! I love the wildflowers and the little gnome and the change you made to the still life worked so well! Choosing a paper color is hard and I find that the little bits of color showing through can affect the mood or feel of the piece. To me, blues and greys work well for cooler, foggier subjects and warm colors help reinforce the look of sunlight. If you can leave some of the paper showing here and there you get a nice sense of depth but if the color is competing with the look you want it's nice to have the option of covering it.

05-07-2015, 08:07 AM
Jay, thank you for your kind words :)
Donna, thank s for taking your time to share your thoughts. I'm learning with babysteps...

I still decided to adjust the background a bit, the sky part is lighter now, and distant faded greens should show better.


05-07-2015, 08:22 AM
I like both versions. The sky and that area look 'foggy' to me now. I don't see the tree as clearly. But I do see the gnome. A gnome anyway. :) Pretty.

05-08-2015, 04:25 AM
Thank you Lynne. I will leave these now, better to start new ones with a new approach!

05-11-2015, 02:39 AM
Your landscape scene is very well handled from a technique point of view, the pastel marks are very convincing. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with the perspective...there is none to deal with here!

Just one comment tho. What is the picture to be called? The vertical main shape of your barn, and the horizontal main shape of your foreground, are virtually the same size. So, I am not sure what is meant to be more important and send out more of a message...barn, or wildflowers.

I personally find that large block of wooden beams somewhat monotonous and repetitive (even tho there is a gnome hiding in there....!!!) and would prefer to concentrate more on the delightful painting of wild flowers...so I have cropped off some of the wooden beams and now would call this "wildflowers by the barn":


I hope you can see that by adjusting the sizes of the main SHAPES within the rectangle, the emphasis changes. Of course, it may not be what you were after....but a tonal thumbnail sketch before you begin on your painting will sort out issues like this, and provide you with stronger compositions.

05-11-2015, 03:21 AM
Dear Jackie,
funny how blind one can be - what you pointed out is something I should have noticed myself. I kept on wondering what is bothering me, and found this painting is lacking impact... it's certainly not a delight!

You are so right - cropping really makes the difference. Yes, the barn wall looked sort of monotonous, even every block is different. That's why I spontaneously added the little eyes looking between the blocks :). Cropping this as you suggested makes the wildflowers the main issue, in my original the flowers are compeating with the barn, as you said.

Thank you dear Jackie, you are so kind :heart: ! Inspired by this I might try this in a bigger size now.

05-11-2015, 11:53 AM
Wow! I like the counterchanged doily, now it really is a wild modernist painting with some realist elements. Too cool! I see what you mean about leaving the apple out or letting it overlap a bit more, but you got it. This is beautiful. Well done!

I like Jackie's crop and what I meant about perspective was that from that point of view no cues to distance were visible, the tree is the same value as sky and that's why I only saw it as variations in sky color. One step darker than the sky and maybe some violet in it would establish it as "farther away in the mist."

05-12-2015, 02:59 AM
Hi Robert,

now it's my turn to say WOW... your feedback is overwhelming and helps me to deal with my doubts about my painting skills in general. I always loved learning, it keeps me going.

I like the pear pair better now as well, the idea for the background was like a flash :) I also like artwork where realistic and abstract are combined. Next time I will leave the apple standing there as an outsider :)

Next time if I want to paint the barn, I will choose another angle - not straigt from front, as it easily looks flat, but turned so I can see the other wall fading out. I do understand what you meant in your earlier feedback.

So happy for all the "next times"! Thanks a lot Robert, have a great confident and joy filled day!

05-12-2015, 09:27 AM
I really like the results of your playing around; Jackie's crop makes the first one perfect and that bicoloured blue-white doily in combination with those vibrant fruit makes this a very interesting and arresting painting! Well done!

05-12-2015, 12:34 PM
thank you for your kind words :)