View Full Version : First attempt at pastels - Frog

08-17-2004, 01:10 PM
I thought I would post my first attempt at pastels. My style is realistic, and I did not think I could do it in pastels, but with a combination of pastels and pencils, I think it might work!
I am not too unhappy with this, although the background was an aftertought.
I would love to hear from you and get feedback on how to improve!
By the way, if you do the background first, how do you keep from smearing it all over your main subject while you are working? I have not quite mastered that yet... I have already thrown out some major messes!
Bye for now, back to the koala I am working on now...

Deborah Secor
08-17-2004, 01:56 PM
Piera, he's a nice juicy little frog! I love the way you've indicated that moistness with the reflections. Usually when I'm doing a figure/ground painting I put the background in so that the figure overlaps it, but the finish work has to be all over, so that the last layer cleans up my fingerprints and smooths edges, etc. I find that the thing that's in front really must lay atop what's behind, physically speaking. I wonder if you added some darker shadows beneath him if he would sit more on that leaf...?

Glad you shared this. It's obvious you're an accomplished artist just getting to know pastels!


08-17-2004, 02:44 PM
Thanks Deborah,
Your suggestion about the shadow is great; my problem is that I do not have a decent dark green, in fact I do not have any really dark colors, except for black. I tried to put black on top of the green - on a separate piece of paper, or I would have been in big trouble :) - and it looked really bad. In fact, I am having a lot of problem with dark colors. I am using a 60-color set by rembrandt, and it does not really have any good darks, except for black. I am not sure how to succesfully mix black with other colors to darken them. So far my results have been bad, with the colors really looking 'dead'.
I have ordered a sampler of dark pastels of different brands from dakota pastels, to see what other brands may have to offer. I may be able to put a shadow in after I get this stuff.
There is so much to learn about pastels! I am spending as much time as I can reading info on wet canvas, it is really a gold mine of information! But it will take time to read it all!

08-17-2004, 02:54 PM
Hi Piera love the frog and this is a gold mine trouble is I spend so long reading and viewing other peoples work that dont seem to have time for mine lol

08-17-2004, 03:45 PM
Welcome to the pastel crazies forum! :D You could do yourself a big favor by ordering one of Unison's dark sets...they have two now, but I think their original one is the best (Darks Set I). They have lovely deep, creamy, rich colors in greens and blues and purples and .... you get the idea. A set of 18 will likely set ya back about what the Rembrandts did, but they're well worth it! And you can use more than one of these darks along with others to make almost any shadow you can dream up!

I love your froggie! How does such a creature always manage to look like he's smiling? Yours looks very happy and proud of himself. You might liven up the leaf he's on a bit with various shadings and highlights...nothing too major, but since part of his coloring is camoflage anyway, fitting him into his environment is important too...without losing the main focus on him, of course. VERY nice first posting! You're going to love pastels...I can tell already!

08-21-2004, 08:22 PM
I went back to the frog and followed your suggestions; I deepened the shadow under it, and lightened the leaf. Looks a lot better ( I think), even though I could not do as much as I would have liked, since the surface is saturated, and does not want to accept much more. In any case, I will be doing a series of froggies, so I will use your good advice for my next works!
I just got samples from Dakota Pastels, and I'll order some darks for sure! In the meantime, I'll use the ones I got in the sample pack. There goes my budget again...
Thanks to all for helping out; I will post the koalas as soon as I am done. Getting my work reviewed helps me a lot; many times I can tell that the painting is not 'quite right', but I cannot tell why until somebody else points it out to me. So I hope you all will be patient with me, as I plan to post more of my stuff and get it reviewed... I hope it's all right. (If I overdo it, please let me know).
Bye for now,

08-22-2004, 12:04 AM
I went back to the frog and followed your suggestions; I deepened the shadow under it, and lightened the leaf. Looks a lot better ( I think), even though I could not do as much as I would have liked, since the surface is saturated, and does not want to accept much more.

,,,So let us see him again.....you've got me in suspense :D

(Where the heck is Sautee? I have lived in Ga all my life and never heard of it. Then again I live in a town with only 1 traffic light....we used to have 2, but it was using too much electricity...... :D LOL)

08-22-2004, 12:40 AM
Unbelievable first attempt! . .awesome
Crumby :)

08-22-2004, 10:00 AM
Hi Piera - great frog and great first 'attempt' at pastels! :) You should find loads of inspiration with realism in pastels if you search the threads for works by crumbedbrains and Gaka!

08-24-2004, 01:25 PM
Hello again,
here is the 'final' frog. The changes I made do not show up too well in this photo.. the shadow is actually much dark than it looks. I'm not unhappy with it overall.

Sautee is near Helen (but out of the way, to the east of it), in the North Georgia mountains. I guess you live in a big town, you actually have a stop light lol. We moved here about two and a half years ago, leaving behind the computer world (we were both system programmers), to try our hand at art (my husband, Eugene, is a nature photographer). Not a good career move from a money standpoint (yet... always hope!), but wonderful so far.

thanks for the kind words, I need the encouragement!

How true! I spent a whole evening going through the Pastel Library, and I am not even half way yet!

I went to your website. WOW!!! Your work is just beautiful! And exactly the type of painting I would LIKE to be able to achieve... I will look at it often, just to remind myself what my goal is. Me thinks I have a LOT of work to do!
Do you have any place on this forum where you discuss your techniques? I would love to learn more about it!

Thank you all,

08-24-2004, 04:30 PM
Hi Pierak. I replied to your koalas before this one and see you have already been told about crumby and gaka. Good one.
My art tutor tells me to mix purples in with the colours and that makes an interesting dark. He suggests to use purples, greens, blues, etc. to make your own interesting blacks...they are more alive and not flat.
Your frog is fantastic, by the way. Good on you. ... oh, and welcome to pastels! They are a lovely and versatile medium.

08-24-2004, 05:28 PM
You could try this with your Rembrandt's for creating a darker color.....take the shade you want to darken. Break off a third and pulvarize it with a part of the black stick. Then moisten this combination with alcohol or distilled water, shape into a new stick and allow to dry about 36 to 48 hours before using. If you don't pulvarize it thoroughly, you may have some streaks in the new stick.

You're doing great....I also commented on your Koalas.

09-01-2004, 05:50 AM
This is a wonderful frog -- love it!
:clap: :clap: :clap:
Wait for your next pastel paintings....


09-01-2004, 12:17 PM

Well this may be your first but we can only hope it's not your last. You truly have a gift in this medium and I would definitely welcome seeing more.

You seem to have taken to the pastel application quite easily and it's really a beautiful subject. Lucky you to have a nature photographer in the family.

keep them coming!!! Barb

09-01-2004, 05:37 PM
Gorgeous first attempt..........hoping to see more of your work
best wishes on your career change