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jackiesimmonds
03-13-2004, 03:19 AM
It has been mentioned to me that there are lots of newbies lurking here, nervous to post anything because they maybe feel a bit intimidated by all the lovely work they see.
Here is an exercise for all beginners to try. It is fun, and it would be good for all of you new to pastels, to see what others new to pastels would come up with. It will get you to practice techniques too, which is great.

There are several techniques which are basic to working with pastels.
1. Using the point of the pastel...lines, dots, cross-hatchings.
2. Using the side of the pastel...sweeping strokes, broken colour (short side strokes in different shades of blue, for instance, laid side by side).
3. Blending

Using all of these techniques, let us see a selection of practice sheets done by you beginners. It could be just marks on a piece of paper, or you could try doing three apples, one using line, one using side strokes and one using blending. (The trouble with the apples idea, is that you have to consider FORM, whereas with the pattern idea, that's allyou have to think about, tho a well-constructed pattern would be nice to see!)

Here is a practice sheet of mine:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Mar-2004/1805-techniques.jpg

Another idea is to draw a simple abstract geometric design on your paper with a felt-tip pen -for instance circles, using the base of a wine glass, and a saucer and a plate; or lots of rectangles ... then get cracking with your pastels over the top. You dont have to stick within the lines, but they could be there as a guide. Here is one example, using just broken colour:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Mar-2004/1805-broken_col.jpg

C'mon people, let's see what you come up with.

J

Mo.
03-13-2004, 07:06 AM
Thank you Jackie for starting this thread.
All you lurkers and newbies who are shy of posting, this thread is for you, and you couldn't ask for a better teacher to guide you along the right path with those pastels, so please do join in and post your work here.

Mo.:)

binkie
03-13-2004, 08:15 PM
I'm still kinda a newbie. I've posted a couple of paintings but have so very much to learn, especially when I see the beautiful paintings posted on this site. But I'd like to share my first effort to do a nude. I worked on it for only l/2 hour so far. It is black Strathmore with ground and done so far with nupastels. I did not do a good job with the ground but had fun playing with it.

Thank you for all the wonderful support you offer!!

jackiesimmonds
03-14-2004, 01:39 AM
Binkie, thanks so much for popping by with your nude. Well done for making an effort with this, it is fun to play around with ideas like this while you are trying to learn.

What you have done is rather interesting - the swirly marks in the background make the work very unusual. I am not going to comment on the nude as such, because this thread is all about pastel TECHNIQUES, how you make marks, with pastels, on paper, and if I get sidetracked into talking about the nude, it will take us "off subject" - but technique-wise, it looks as tho you used a certain amount of blending there, which contrasts nicely with the background strokes.

For the next image you tackle, I suggest that you try varying the WEIGHT of your strokes. Try some with a very light touch, and then make some marks with a bolder, stronger approach. Try to make some edges very crisp, and allow some to be more fuzzy - that's great practice. Also, do have a go at broken colour areas - the idea is to extend your vocabulary of marks.

What I would ideally like, when people post images here, is for them to talk about the STROKES they used, and what they learned as they worked.


Mo - perhaps we should turn this into a project ...

J

chestie
03-14-2004, 02:39 AM
I just bought a digital camera. I'm very excited with my new toy, can't keep my hands off it. So I spent a few minutes on a few apples for this thread. I guess you could call it a WIP.

I've only ever blended, for some reason, but the paintings I like the most are the more painterly/impressionistic works (I hope my understanding of those words are correct :) ). I really enjoyed crosshatching the apple, though, so I'm keen to do some more.

jackiesimmonds
03-14-2004, 02:53 AM
Chestie - Well done for trying out something new! It is only by trying out the unfamiliar, that we can learn and grow.

Your blended apple is very good, and you clearly need no help with blending.

As for the cross-hatched one, you need to be even braver, and build up more marks to get the desired effect. Cross hatching can be quite loose ... or it can be very dense indeed, with many layers, and you can adjust the colours as you work too, by building one colour over another, allowing just a hint of the previous colour to show through.

THINGS TO NOTICE:

When you blend, you get a very easy transition from light to dark - your finger, or your paper stump, or whatever you use for blending, does the job for you.

When you use marks, you have to create the colour transitions yourself, so it is harder work - but rewarding, if what you want is a textured, impressionistic effect.

However, one of the problems of x-hatching on pastel paper, is that often, tiny touches of the paper colour will show through, influencing the finished effect.

MOVING ON:

So - I would like you to try this now. Create another apple, and use blending this time. It doesn't have to be too "finished" - just get the form of the apple right, with your blending.
Then - spray it with a burst of fixative, and now work with x-hatching over the top of the blended colours. You can change the colours slightly as you work, to make it more interesting. I think you will really enjoy the finished effect. Do try it.

Jackie

chestie
03-15-2004, 05:06 AM
Thought I might as well post a progress report on my home work (fansy giving me home work, how rude :) but I do appreciate it, thanks) and bump it up to the front for a few minutes. I'm just about to fix it with some workable fixative I bought the other day.

jackiesimmonds
03-15-2004, 05:33 AM
Chestie - glad to offer advice and it's good for you to get some homework!

This is coming along fine so far, I assume you plan, after fixing it, to try working over the top with linear strokes.

Before you do that ... do check proportions, using the pencil/stick measuring method. Stand well back from your apple, stretch out your arm with a pencil in your hand, pointed bit pointing at the ceiling, and lock your elbow. MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT TIP THE PENCIL TOWARDS THE APPLE. Pretend there is a pane of glass between you and the apple, and put the pencil up against it. Now .. Close one eye, and line the top of the pencil up with the top of the apple. Slide your thumb down to line it up with the bottom of the apple. Now you have the measurement of the HEIGHT of the applie.

Now ... turn your arm (still elbow locked) so that the pencil is horizontal, and see how the HEIGHT of the apple compares to the width.

If you have drawn it correctly ... brilliant.

Now you can continue with your homework, and create an interesting "textured" apple.

When you have done one using linear strokes over the top of your blended apple, try one using BROKEN COLOUR. That's even more fun. This sequence of images may prove helpful (and notice how the artist has found some angles, the apples aren't completely round. Good observation is the key)

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Mar-2004/1805-apples1.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Mar-2004/1805-apples2.jpg

and see how it looks in an almost-finished still life, where broken colour has been used throughout:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Mar-2004/1805-applesstages.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Mar-2004/1805-apples3.jpg

He has a lovely light touch, this guy,and doesn't overwork his pastel images, much of the creamy-coloured background you can see, is the Canson paper he has used. This work really "breathes", I think, and I hope you can see that. I realise that this is ambitious for a beginner ... but actually, it is always good to have some inspiration to work towards.

And no complaining about the homework or I will set you more. People normally pay a tutor for undivided attention like this.... :)

Jackie

chestie
03-15-2004, 08:47 AM
Hello Jackie sensei,

I can't believe you gave me more homework to do, which I am very grateful for. Thanks for the tutoring. I measured my apple, and it's a bit skinny, it looks even skinnier after the strokes. I think I got lost in the moment (painting is very meditative), got caught up in the small details and forgot to step back and see the overall picture. I can now see things like the shape of the shadow that aren't even close. But overall I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, I'm keen to do more work like this.

I love broken colour and the images you posted, they do breath for me. I'll give it a shot.

Thanks Jackie.

jackiesimmonds
03-15-2004, 11:57 AM
Chestie, your apples is really good, you SHOULD be pleased, and I hope you learned a lot from the exercise. The shadow is less good, but you know that. Tell me - is the apple sitting on a blue cloth? If not, what is it sitting on?

Shadows aren't always easy .. you may like to have a read of my "shadows" article:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Articles2/1805/264/index.php

Jackie

skintone
03-15-2004, 02:57 PM
Most teachers just enjoy gettting apples from their students. Jackie makes her students paint them and study them first. Hey chestie that's a tasty looking apple.

chestie
03-15-2004, 03:32 PM
The apple is from the image library, apple on blue silk, http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=28141&password=&sort=1&cat=512&page=1

I didn't put much effort into the silk.

I had already read your article, jackie, and will be rereading it, it's gold.

Thanks Jackie and Skintone.

jackiesimmonds
03-15-2004, 05:25 PM
Now, I daresay I will get shot down AGAIN for saying this..........but if you can buy an apple for a few coins, why paint one from a photograph?

You MUST try working from life. The half-tones, and thrown shadows, and reflected lights, will absolutely come to life for you, when you try this.

Please do, Chestie.

binkie
03-15-2004, 08:42 PM
Jackie,

Thanks for taking a look at my first attempt at a nude. I sure do not want to miss out on your expertise that you are so kind to offer us newbies. I've drawn two apples and a pear. They are from real fruit I shined a light on.

jackiesimmonds
03-16-2004, 02:27 AM
Hi Binkie
Well done with your fruits, I can see that you have used linear strokes, and have made them curve around the fruits to describe their form, which is good. Have you tried other techniques than these? If not, can I suggest that you do? The object of this exercise is to extend your range of techniques as much as possible.

While the fruits are well executed, I would like you to have a look at the shadows again. They are rather dark, which leaves a question in my mind.

You have used a strong, orange paper, which has an effect on your image, as we can see the colour through the shadow.

When you get shadows thrown down onto a coloured surface, they are influenced by the colour of the surface. What colour was the surface your apples were sitting on? If, for instance, it was a white tablecloth, then the shadows would have been much lighter, and probably bluer too, with some subtle reflection of the apple colours in there as well. If it was a brown wooden surface, then the shadows will be much browner.

As beginners, it is important to paint exactly what we see, rather than what we think we should paint.

J

chestie
03-16-2004, 03:20 AM
Well hello Jackie,

Shot down? No, perhaps a little cheekiness might sneak in to my reply, but I mean no disrespect.

About the apple situation, ummm, I had only one left, and I gave it to my boss. I'll buy some more fruit, promise. Just don't ask me to paint a pineapple, please.

Thanks Jackie.

jackiesimmonds
03-16-2004, 04:29 AM
Chestie ... for your next bit of homework, I think you should try a pineapple, and a cauliflower. :evil:

Seriously tho....try two lemons,(or oranges) and cut one into segments. Doing the inside of a fruit is marvellous practice, to see if you can manage to find techniques which describe the texture of orange peel, and then the shiny inside bits.

Another thing to try, cut up, is a red or green pepper. The shapes are fantastic, and with some directional light, you get some good practice at getting tone values right, and inside, you get these lovely little seeds.

J

E-J
03-16-2004, 07:39 AM
Binkie and Chestie - good on you for trying the exercises and posting them for us to see!

I did the 'abstract' exercise from Jackie's book when I was starting out in pastels a year ago, and at the same time was encouraged by members of this forum to sketch regularly and post my progress. Tackling the simplest objects from life, such as an apple or an egg, or more complex shapes like a coffee mug or a flower, was (and still is, I find) terrifically valuable practice.

You may not have checked out the Weekly Pastel Sketches thread yet. How busy it is depends, of course, on how busy we all are with more considered pastel pieces - or with our lives in general! - but it is a great incentive to get some sketching in:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=174417

As Jackie says, try a variety of different strokes and don't forget to let us know which techniques you used and what you've learnt! :)

Cheena K
03-16-2004, 07:56 AM
Hi!

I was just passing by :) Sadly, I am not carry my pastels to work today...I hope to post something tomorrow. I want to participate in this excercise!!

Pl. be there!

binkie
03-16-2004, 10:10 PM
Thanks so much Jackie! I tried a couple more apples. Used the rough side of the paper, and too much of the lt. beige shows through. But are these shadows better?

jackiesimmonds
03-17-2004, 01:59 AM
Binkie, are these shadows on white cloth? If so, they are a bit colourless.

The thing to remember about shadows on white, is that the colour is going to be modified by the colour of the light causing the shadow in the first place.

If the light is warm light, from a lamp, or from the sun, then the shadows will be cool, and rather bluish.

If the light is cool, from a strip light, for instance, or from dayling from a window, they will be less cool blue.

I suspect the shadows are from a lamp, in which case, try putting some soft purple-y blue/greys into the shadows, it will give them much more life. The shadow will be darkest right under the apple, and will get gradually lighter as it stretches away. You could also cross-hatch just a few lines or dots of a blue-red in there too, to give some sense of red reflected down onto the table.
This is done "digitally" and I am sure you could do better with pastels, but it shows how much more interesting the shadows could be, potentially:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/17-Mar-2004/1805-EMAIL_APPLES_316__3.jpg

Cheena K
03-17-2004, 02:24 AM
Tried to make all 3 in different styles but they look more or less the same, no?
How should I go about it? I think my shadows are very dark. But as usual had great fun :)

jackiesimmonds
03-17-2004, 02:34 AM
Yes, they do look similar, I must admit. Tell me what techniques you used for each, that might give me some idea what to tell you. I can only suggest, without knowing exactly what you did, that at some point, the technique slightly changed as you worked.

If you use all LINEAR STROKES, you should be able to see those strokes, curving around the fruits, in the finished piece.

If you use all BLENDING, it should look very much smoother, with no individual marks showing.

If you use BROKEN COLOUR, it should look more like chunky strokes of colour, as in the demo a few posts back, on page 1.

If you are unhappy about the darkness of your shadows, take a stiff brush and brush off most of the colour. Then, stroke lighter tones of colour onto the paper, perhaps using the sides of your pastels, keeping your touch quite light too. This will give a shadow that "breathes".

Jackie

Cheena K
03-17-2004, 02:50 AM
Thanks for the "shadow" tip :)

The 3rd is more of a broken color. I spent the least amount of pastel time on it.

The first and second have tiny strokes all over. But I had first blocked these with pastel pencil strokes (I sketched with a pastel pencil) It's mainly using the blending technique with strokes on the topmost layer. I hope I am using the right words?

I'll work on this excercise again keeping these "three" points in mind.

Thanks!



Yes, they do look similar, I must admit. Tell me what techniques you used for each, that might give me some idea what to tell you. I can only suggest, without knowing exactly what you did, that at some point, the technique slightly changed as you worked.

If you use all LINEAR STROKES, you should be able to see those strokes, curving around the fruits, in the finished piece.

If you use all BLENDING, it should look very much smoother, with no individual marks showing.

If you use BROKEN COLOUR, it should look more like chunky strokes of colour, as in the demo a few posts back, on page 1.

If you are unhappy about the darkness of your shadows, take a stiff brush and brush off most of the colour. Then, stroke lighter tones of colour onto the paper, perhaps using the sides of your pastels, keeping your touch quite light too. This will give a shadow that "breathes".

Jackie

binkie
03-17-2004, 01:13 PM
Wow Jackie! Your sample of the purple in the shadows really made a difference. I put some purple and a touch of red on my painting. I admit I had been playing with the shadows and had darkened them with gray before I read your comments, so my purple is darker than I'd do it if I had read your reply first. I can't thank you enough for your help. I feel like I'm really learning!

pastelist
03-17-2004, 07:29 PM
What a wonderful idea for newbies to pastel. I teach pastel and know first hand how newbies feel. It takes quite sometime to assure the artist that they are capable of beautiful paintings. I have to keep reminding them not to become so easily intimidated. Thanks for beginning this wonderful thread.
:clap:

Mo.
03-17-2004, 07:42 PM
You are all doing so well, I think maybe you've worn Jackie out, but keep up the good work, and why not try doing one of her little excercises that she posted on the first page? i.e., just get a sheet of paper and practice, make as many different marks as you can with your pastels, use the tip use the side, use sweeping strokes, well you know, just get he feel of the medium and what you can do with it, loosen up your inhibitions, for the exercise you don't have to paint a subject, just fill the page with pastel marks, use varying pressure etc., etc., there is no better way than this to learn what your medium can do ~~ then post your results here. Go on, give it a try.:)
Mo.:)

jackiesimmonds
03-18-2004, 02:41 AM
Yes, Mo is right ... the thing is, boys and girls, when you try to paint something recognisable, you are not only concentrating on the marks you make, but you are also trying to describe the object, and make it look like it really looks ...so your concentration is working on two different things at once.

Doing a sheet of simple marks, concentrating solely on how to make those marks, what happens when you press hard, what happens when you press lightly, what happens when you put one colour over another, is a really good way to practice and learn. There is no pressure to produce a recognisable object, which makes it fun too.

J

Cheena K
03-18-2004, 07:15 AM
Hi!

Still struggling with the technique stuff :(
but here is something I made y'day...hubby dear got me a picture reference for this...kind of challenged me to try something difficult :)

so, here's my attempt...it's still in the "baby" stage...there is something wrong with the lower part of the boat...pl. suggest.

Also attaching the apples with lighter shadow...

I am trying out the various strokes and will post something very soon.

Thanks for all the great advice!

chestie
03-18-2004, 08:41 AM
I've been fighting my pastels tonight. I'm using the smooth side of a blue coloured canson paper and I just can't get most of the colours to stick. I was able to build up a number of layers with the apple painting, so I don't know what's going on tonight. Much tougher subject, though, a lot more detail than an apple.

I think I'll stick to white paper until I get a better quality pastels. (are we allowed to make excuses here?) On the bright side, I had nothing to lose and cut loose, and while it's rough and unfinished, I like it.

The white is a from a single stick of soft pastel I bought, it's fine, except for the occasional hard bit.

Oh, and Jackie, the fruit is real.

jackiesimmonds
03-18-2004, 09:26 AM
Hi!

Still struggling with the technique stuff :(
but here is something I made y'day...hubby dear got me a picture reference for this...kind of challenged me to try something difficult :)

so, here's my attempt...it's still in the "baby" stage...there is something wrong with the lower part of the boat...pl. suggest.

Also attaching the apples with lighter shadow...

I am trying out the various strokes and will post something very soon.

Thanks for all the great advice!


Well, this is a bit more than technique advice needed here! This should really go into the regular forums as a separate thread.

Having said that.............have a look at the strokes you have used for the water. Can you see that your strokes curve downwards, which makes it look as tho the boat is sitting on a pillow, rather than sitting in water?
Also, the whole boat is tipping sideways - which can happen if the water is very choppy, as at sea, but is unlikely on a river. When you are using side strokes, or linear strokes, it is best to be very careful that they do not create an optical illusion,as in your water strokes, and you must be much more careful about verticals and horizontals generally. The little thumbnail at the top of the picture does not show a leaning boat!
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Mar-2004/1805-boat.jpg

jackiesimmonds
03-18-2004, 09:31 AM
I've been fighting my pastels tonight. I'm using the smooth side of a blue coloured canson paper and I just can't get most of the colours to stick. I was able to build up a number of layers with the apple painting, so I don't know what's going on tonight. Much tougher subject, though, a lot more detail than an apple.

I think I'll stick to white paper until I get a better quality pastels. (are we allowed to make excuses here?) On the bright side, I had nothing to lose and cut loose, and while it's rough and unfinished, I like it.

The white is a from a single stick of soft pastel I bought, it's fine, except for the occasional hard bit.

Oh, and Jackie, the fruit is real.

There is no real reason why pastels should not "stick " to the smooth side of Canson, I use it all the time. It may be that after a while, from a technical point of view, you have filled the tooth of the paper, and you cannot get more pastel on without a burst of fixative. The other reason may be, as you suggest, cheap pastels, which do not have the covering power of the better quality brands.

I think you did rather well with these bits of fruit, as it happens, especially as you have not left any of the blue paper to show, which implies quite a lot of pastel on the surface.

Just one thing ...since you are painting in a fairly literal way, I would like to see something of the character of the orange - orange peel is completely different to apple skin, for instance. Just a hint of the little pits would be sufficient.

J

chestie
03-18-2004, 11:09 AM
There is blue paper showing in parts. It might not show in the photo, it's quite soft.

I played around some more and got better results. But if I took a yellow stick and drew a line over an orange section using the point of the pastel, I'd end up with a blue line, the stick would scrape the pastel away leaving the paper showing. If I lightly dragged the side of the pastel over a section, flakes of pastel would peel off the paper.

I did do an under coat of blended pastel and fixed it, I have a feeling I might not have fixed it properly, or didn't wait long enough after fixing.

I wonder if the weather affects how the pastel works? it's a bit cooler and drier tonight

Anyway, I managed to get some texture on the peel by lightly working the side of a lighter coloured pastel over the darker coloured peel. The texture is largely due to flakes of the darker pastel peeling away, rather than the lighter pastel sitting on top. :)

I'll post another picture later. Then, when I've finished, I'll do a few exercises with different pastel and fixing techniques.

Thanks Jackie.

Cheena K
03-19-2004, 12:34 AM
Thanks Jackie!
I'll keep the points in mind while making another version. Will also post the reference picture too(I am not carrying the mag today). Hope I have some scope in pastel painting :)

- C

Well, this is a bit more than technique advice needed here! This should really go into the regular forums as a separate thread.

Having said that.............have a look at the strokes you have used for the water. Can you see that your strokes curve downwards, which makes it look as tho the boat is sitting on a pillow, rather than sitting in water?
Also, the whole boat is tipping sideways - which can happen if the water is very choppy, as at sea, but is unlikely on a river. When you are using side strokes, or linear strokes, it is best to be very careful that they do not create an optical illusion,as in your water strokes, and you must be much more careful about verticals and horizontals generally. The little thumbnail at the top of the picture does not show a leaning boat!
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Mar-2004/1805-boat.jpg

binkie
03-19-2004, 01:03 AM
I experimented with different strokes. I did not try to make a design, just filled up the paper.
binkie

Cheena K
03-19-2004, 01:16 AM
I experimented with different strokes. I did not try to make a design, just filled up the paper.
binkie

Looks lovely :)

jackiesimmonds
03-19-2004, 01:58 AM
I experimented with different strokes. I did not try to make a design, just filled up the paper.
binkie

Hey Binkie - that is great! What did you learn? Did you try adjusting the PRESSURE of your strokes as you worked?

J

binkie
03-19-2004, 11:42 AM
Thanks Cheena. It looks like a mess to me! I do like your boat. You've got a great start with it.

Jackie,

I had fun with all the different strokes. Hadn't tried the broken lines before or going over one color with another while applying different pressures. Guess it's on to the orange now.

binkie

MikeN
03-19-2004, 03:42 PM
Hello Jackie,

Great work your doing here with the beginners!

MikeN

binkie
03-23-2004, 08:22 PM
Hi Jackie,

Here's my orange:

lozz
03-24-2004, 01:27 PM
Jackie? I noticed on the back of one of your books in a photo there are some derwent pastel pencils in your studio. I've got some and have noticed that some of them seem to go really hard when laying down pastel to paper. I have to rub them on sandpaper to get past the 'hard' bit to return to nice soft pastel again. Is this your experience too????

best wishes and thanks for this thread - its a great help!


lozz

binkie
03-24-2004, 03:07 PM
Hi Lozz,

Don't know if this will help but it's a list of pastel pencils by hardness:
They are listed with softest pencils first

Faber-Castell Pitt
Carbothello
Brutnzeel
Derwent
Conte
Cretacolor

I got this info from Dakota Art Supplies site. I had Cretacolor and they were so hard. After I saw the list I bought a set of Faber-Castell, and they are great!

binkie

lozz
03-24-2004, 03:38 PM
Hi Lozz,

Don't know if this will help but it's a list of pastel pencils by hardness:
They are listed with softest pencils first

Faber-Castell Pitt
Carbothello
Brutnzeel
Derwent
Conte
Cretacolor

I got this info from Dakota Art Supplies site. I had Cretacolor and they were so hard. After I saw the list I bought a set of Faber-Castell, and they are great!

binkie


Thanks binkie! I've got some too! But I wanted to use all these derwents up before I use the FCs. I used some FCs at a workshop and fell in love with them straight away! Judging by the hardness of these derwents, those Cretcolor must be like sticks of granite!!!!!! :)

lozz

xreader
03-24-2004, 10:52 PM
Am I in the right place? I discovered this thread yesterday, and wanted to participate. Today I experimented with some cray-pas oil pastels.All but the leaves are imaginary, those I did cut and sitting in a water glass. I worked outside for 50 minutes. I would appreciate your comments. :)

jackiesimmonds
03-25-2004, 02:39 AM
Am I in the right place? I discovered this thread yesterday, and wanted to participate. Today I experimented with some cray-pas oil pastels.All but the leaves are imaginary, those I did cut and sitting in a water glass. I worked outside for 50 minutes. I would appreciate your comments. :)

Hi there, and welcome. To be honest, I have much more experience with soft pastels, than with oil pastels, but I still feel that one needs to experiment with any materials to find out what they can do. Soft pastels are very different to oil pastels, and shifting from one technique to another is rather easier. You cannot easily blend oil pastels, for instance, without the use of something to melt them down a bit; you cannot really use them on their sides in the same way that you can use soft pastels on their sides, and they mix on the paper in a very different way to soft pastels.

The idea of this thread was to encourage beginners to try to learn as many different techniques as possible, by creating a whole page of technique examples like Binkie did (thread no. 38 I think), or by working from life with simple objects, asyou did with your leaves. However, in order to really learn what your materials can do, it would be best to do those leaves again, in a couple of different ways - using blending, for instance, with a bit of solvent, for a change of "look" to your strokes, and another set using, perhaps, linear strokes building up with different colours gradually. In this way, you gradually learn more and more about the potential of your chosen medium.

xreader
03-25-2004, 03:17 AM
Thank you for the "homework" ;) This gives me a direction to go in. I will try.Should I start another thread, or continue here? -xreader

Cheena K
03-25-2004, 04:26 AM
Hi Jackie,

Here's my orange:


Too good!! :clap:

binkie
03-25-2004, 02:29 PM
Hi Jackie,

Could you critique my orange? Then what's next?? Again, thanks so much for helping out this beginner!!!!!
binkie

jackiesimmonds
03-25-2004, 06:16 PM
Thank you for the "homework" ;) This gives me a direction to go in. I will try.Should I start another thread, or continue here? -xreader
You could continue here, but if you use Oil Pastels, it might be a good idea to start another thread, asking the Oil Pastellists for help - they will give you lots of guidance that I probably would not be able to give. If you use soft pastels, I am happy to help.

jackiesimmonds
03-25-2004, 06:26 PM
Hi Jackie,

Could you critique my orange? Then what's next?? Again, thanks so much for helping out this beginner!!!!!
binkie

Binkie, you did really well with your orange, and its segments. Now, did you try out any techniques that you have never used before? Were you conscious of technique at all as you worked? The idea of this thread is to encourage people to be a little bit experimental, so that they do not get locked into just one way of working with pastels.

What's next? well, the world is your oyster. keep on working from life; try different fruits and vegetables, and then graduate onto man-made objects, which have different textures. Painting a shiny cup, for instance, you might have to find a slightly different approach, to painting the textured surface of an orange - see what I mean? Painting grass, and painting clouds, might require different pastel strokes. The more techniques you have under your belt, the more versatile a painter you will become.

Let's see what YOU come up with next!

scentman
03-25-2004, 07:08 PM
Jackie et al:

I just started sketching and drawing again in January, after a 20+ year pause. One of the mediums I am experimenting with is Pastels. [JS - I just purchased two of your books recently (Sketching and Pastels)- the techniques are working well for me]. Could you kindly critique this Olive tree by the Pont Du Gard that I did in January (My first attempt. Rembrandt Pastels on Canson Mi-Tientes Felt Grey 8x10, rough side) - I know I got a little heavy with the fixative in spots, and I made the right hand branch too thick, but overall I felt OK for a first attempt. I took the reference photo on a trip in March 2003, but I can't find the digi-copy right now.

Bruce

jackiesimmonds
03-26-2004, 02:30 AM
Jackie et al:

I just started sketching and drawing again in January, after a 20+ year pause. One of the mediums I am experimenting with is Pastels. [JS - I just purchased two of your books recently (Sketching and Pastels)- the techniques are working well for me]. Could you kindly critique this Olive tree by the Pont Du Gard that I did in January (My first attempt. Rembrandt Pastels on Canson Mi-Tientes Felt Grey 8x10, rough side) - I know I got a little heavy with the fixative in spots, and I made the right hand branch too thick, but overall I felt OK for a first attempt. I took the reference photo on a trip in March 2003, but I can't find the digi-copy right now.

Bruce

What I like to hear is self-confidence, and you have that for sure, since you say that "overall I felt OK for a first attempt". I agree, for a first attempt with pastels, I imagine you learned quite a lot about pastel techniques - I can see blending in the sky, and cross-hatched linear marks in the tree and linear strokes on the ground.

In fact, this thread is purely to encourage people to play a bit with their pastels in order to discover how many techniques they can learn by doing so .. I really would prefer not to get off-subject, and into critiquing your pic, since there is a Critique Forum you can visit, and will get lots of advice there. But since you are here, just this once, I will mention one or two points.

You have some lovely curving forms in the picture ... but if you look hard at your pic, from a distance, you will see that the greenery back by the bridge is visually sitting "on top" of your tree. This is because of the curve at the base of the bushes, to the left of the tree. If you straighten that out, it would help a bit.

Also ... you have "stylised" all the shapes ...I hope you understand what I mean by that - and this is OK, if it is really what you want from your pic. Is it?
Finally - I think the composition would benefit from much less sky. It is a very large blue shape, and if you cut out at least half of it, it would balance better with the lower half of the picture. Try it and see what I mean.

I really recommend that you repost in the Critique Forum, and see what help you get there.

Jackie

scentman
03-26-2004, 10:04 AM
Jackie:

Thank you for the pointers...I am going to redo this one after I master a few more things - like foliage. I also did this painting before I read about composition, and placed my tree dead-center (oops!).

I'm thinking now to change it to a horizontal format, with the tree to the right off-center, and lower, and the bridge arch upper left. I will remove some sky as you suggested - it is a pretty large boring chunk currently, as is the foreground expanse.

Being a newbie to WC! and trying to 'learn the ropes' I didn't even realize that a critique forum existed. I will repost this there, and hopefully not get 'eaten by the wolves' :D .

Thanks Again

Bruce

jackiesimmonds
03-26-2004, 10:32 AM
Bruce, you are welcome.

I just want to say that it is good to bear in mind that there are certain approaches to painting.

If you choose to stylise your shapes - ie slightly abstract them, so that they are not strictly representational - that is one approach.

If you choose to paint in a realistic fashion - that is another approach, and it requires good observation and draughtmanship. And then, you can choose whether to use a photographic "finish", or whether to be more loose and painterly.

At the moment, you have a picture where the shapes are not strictly representational, and show no signs of "real" life observation ... and it is impossible for me to know whether this is a deliberate choice on your part, or whether in fact, you have tried to represent a tree as faithfully as possible, in which case, I have to advise you to do a LOT more drawing from life rather than from imagination.

I hope you realise the difference between the two main approaches to painting, and why I say this.

I am sure you will get lots of help in the critique forum, but I do think you need to make clear whether you are determined to stylise and abstract your landscapes, or whether you are, in fact, doing your best to produce something life-like. It will make a big difference to the kind of critique you get.

Jackie

scentman
03-26-2004, 11:17 AM
Well....It [The Olive Tree] started out as a realistic interpretation, then, through a combination of my lack of formal training, a new medium, and only 30 different sticks of Rembrandts to choose from [I've since increased this number to 60, and added Nupastels, CarbOthello and Conté Pastel Pencils, and Winsor and Newton Sticks to my collection], I kind of morphed it into a looser interpretation [a.k.a. styilized it]. I have been practicing daily since I did that one [my new years resolution was one doodle a day], however I have not stuck just to pastels - I've kind of been dabbling around in different media. I do like the pastels and the effects you can get, but I have been doing a lot of monochrome work in pencil, Conté crayons, and ink to improve my draftsmanship/composition. I've also been following through the exercises in your "You Can Sketch" book - I'm up to the Cosmos, rear view in watersoluble pen presently. I have read through your pastel workbook, and was going to attempt my version your Van Gogh re-creation this weekend.

Bruce

jackiesimmonds
03-26-2004, 11:30 AM
Bruce, although it is valuable to work with your materials to find out what they can do, and working from illustrations in books is a good starting point, nothing can replace working from life, I cannot stress this enough.

By all means, take ideas from my books. But then, find your own, similar objects, and work from the objects, doing your best to get proportions and shapes as right as possible. In this way, not only will you be practicing techniques (and you can remind yourself of techniques by looking back at the books), but you will be doing something more important - you will be training your eye to measure, and your hand to represent accurately what your eye sees. It is completely different to work from a real mushroom - it is a three dimensional object - whereas a drawing of a mushroom is just that - it is a drawing, it is NOT a mushroom.

Please promise me that you will fill a sketchbook with lots and lots of efforts from life. Go outside and really look at trees, and draw EXACTLY what you SEE, not what you think a tree should look like. Draw some mushrooms, some peppers, some pears, some flowers, your chair, your family, your cat - anything and everything. By the time you have filled a sketchbook, your last drawings will be so much more competent than your first ones.

Jackie

scentman
03-26-2004, 12:07 PM
...nothing can replace working from life, I cannot stress this enough...find your own, similar objects, and work from the objects, doing your best to get proportions and shapes as right as possible...
Please promise me that you will fill a sketchbook with lots and lots of efforts from life. Go outside and really look at trees, and draw EXACTLY what you SEE, not what you think a tree should look like... By the time you have filled a sketchbook, your last drawings will be so much more competent than your first ones.

Jackie

I so promise :angel: When I started this quest for artistic improvement in January, the days were quite short, so I drew from magazines, photos and textbooks, I have set up some still lives to draw, and now that the days are getting long enough after work, I have begun sketching in my yard. I'm still self-concious about sketching in public places, where people can be busy-bodies, but I will overcome that.

Thanks again for all the help

Bruce

jackiesimmonds
03-26-2004, 01:53 PM
I so promise :angel: When I started this quest for artistic improvement in January, the days were quite short, so I drew from magazines, photos and textbooks, I have set up some still lives to draw, and now that the days are getting long enough after work, I have begun sketching in my yard. I'm still self-concious about sketching in public places, where people can be busy-bodies, but I will overcome that.

Thanks again for all the help

Bruce

When I was a student, we were forced to go and paint in front of others - in a zoo, no less. I spent ages on a pic of a huge turtle ... and along came a mother and child, and the mother said to her kid "oooh, Look Johnny at the clever lady, see what a terrific slug she has drawn"...................

Put a hat down on the floor beside you with a few coins in it. THAT keeps people away ... and if it doesn't, you might even make a few more!

Jackie

chestie
03-26-2004, 05:56 PM
When I was a student, we were forced to go and paint in front of others - in a zoo, no less. I spent ages on a pic of a huge turtle ... and along came a mother and child, and the mother said to her kid "oooh, Look Johnny at the clever lady, see what a terrific slug she has drawn"...................

Put a hat down on the floor beside you with a few coins in it. THAT keeps people away ... and if it doesn't, you might even make a few more!
Thanks for sharing this, the hat trick made me laugh. I'm like bruce, terribly self-conscious about people seeing me while I work. I'm going to try to get out there, somewhere busy, and see what happens.

jackiesimmonds
03-27-2004, 08:42 AM
Thanks for sharing this, the hat trick made me laugh. I'm like bruce, terribly self-conscious about people seeing me while I work. I'm going to try to get out there, somewhere busy, and see what happens.

Actually, the vast majority of people who do stop and look (tho many may not, depends on their nationality I find - Brits tend to walk on by without comment; Americans tend to want to join in the fun!) will comment favourably if they are going to comment at all. It is only when you get kids that you get the real truth! Most people are in awe of anyone who sits and draws or paints, so dont worry about it at all. Even if they think their kid could do better than you, they are unlikely to say so! Most will be very encouraging, you'll see.

A really good tip: Always try to find somewhere to sit, with a wall behind you, it's the best place, or else people pile up behind you if there is no wall and no barrier. They like it if they can look over your shoulder, thinking that you dont know they are there! They are much less inclined to walk right over, and sidle up alongside you, if you are against a wall.

Jackie

Ruth Grinstead
06-26-2004, 03:06 PM
I hope it is OK to just carry on with this thread as I have just started using soft pastels.

I have had a go at an apple, the one used earlier from the RIL. Everything seemed to go all right until I tried to do the fabric as I don't have a very large collection of pastels and it is a portrait set so not as many blues as I could have used. It was just that the shadow side of the apple had some reflected blue light.

I only have some watercolour paper and some DR Ingres which I did this on.

I hope that makes sense.

Ruth

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Jun-2004/38452-RCGapple.jpg

binkie
06-26-2004, 03:19 PM
That's a great apple! :clap:

gwen

Ruth Grinstead
06-27-2004, 03:24 AM
That's a great apple! :clap:

gwen

Thanks Gwen.

This is a practice sheet of random marks. I'll get some real fruit and veg when I go to the supermarket and will order some different papers too.

The scanner has added colours that do not appear on the original, like greys in the blue.

Ruth

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Jun-2004/38452-RCGpracticesheet.jpg

Kathryn Wilson
06-27-2004, 02:29 PM
Hi Ruth! Glad to see you posting in here - that is a wonderful apple and glad that you put that reflected light on the left too.

Jackie is away for a while, but when she comes back I'm sure she'll be glad to help you. Good start on those pastel strokes.

If I can be of more help, let me know.

Ruth Grinstead
07-01-2004, 09:47 AM
I've carried on with fruit and veg from life, the people in Asda think I am mad as I now select my oranges etc based on their colour and texture and shape, Lol.

I don't know why the orange segment got no shadow, but I have eaten the subject now. I didn't realise pastels were so good for your health. Fruit salad and ratatouille, yummy.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Jul-2004/38452-Oranges.jpg

With regard to the pepper they had no red ones, just green and I have hardly any greens or a lurking somewhere between red and yellow.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Jul-2004/38452-RCGpeppers.jpg

Ruth

jackiesimmonds
07-01-2004, 01:34 PM
Hi Ruth
I am back now, tho I have to warn you, and everyone else who might read this, that over the next few weeks I will be up to my eyebrows in work and may not always be available. While it is flattering to have my own little corner of WC, it is rather difficult when I am not constantly available. If you get no reply from me for a while, do feel free to post in the general forums, and you will gets lots of replies from plenty of capable pastellists.

I think you are doing a wonderful job - no-one could ever know that you are a beginner to pastels. That apple is masterful! As for the fabric, fabric IS quite difficult to paint, it is a question of getting the gradations of tone right, you need to study the fabric as it turns away from the light, and see how the tones graduate VERY slowly. Using a finger to gently blend a medium toned pastel, and a light pastel, will give you other tones in between - it is qquestion of trial and error. Perhaps practice on another peice of paper, see if you can get a very gradual transition from light thro to darker tone, and then, when you have mastered that, study your fabricfolds really carefully. There is unlikely to be any sharp change from light to dark, fabric is soft. A crease in a paper bag will give a sharp edge, but fabric wont look like that, will it.

When I am stuck on something like this, out comes my Degas book. And other masters who have worked with pastels. I have a good look to see how they managed to create soft folds. They are going to be your best teachers.

Keep up the good work,
Jackie

Dilettante Dave
11-02-2004, 01:08 PM
Apples? goin back to finger painting! What is he using for a background?

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Nov-2004/51930-apples.JPG

jackiesimmonds
11-04-2004, 02:39 AM
the background here looks like a piece of cream pastel paper, and this painting is "in progress". But all ready, one can see the form of the apples.

Jackie

Dilettante Dave
11-04-2004, 09:59 AM
I see now in the original post that you explained that. I just wasn't holding my mouth right when I read it. I was trying to copy the shades he used by blending and ended up with a muddy mess. Thanx D.D.

pastelist
11-04-2004, 10:14 AM
I am sorry to hear that Jackie will be away for awhile. I enjoy reading her posts. I have been an artist for over twenty years and a pastelist for fifteen years. I love reading about techniques and how to apply them. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

Ruth,

You are doing a wonderful work with your application of pastel, keep it up!
:clap: