View Full Version : Weekly Pastel Sketches, 6-12 June '05

06-05-2005, 07:32 PM
Welcome to another week of pastel sketches!

The idea is simple: get out those pastels and complete a sketch in one hour or less.

The thread is open to everyone and you don't have to sign up anywhere to take part. The only requirement is that your sketch is done using some kind of pastel (that includes soft or hard pastels, oil pastels, pastel pencils and chalks) and takes you no more than an hour.

This is a fun way to sharpen your observational skills, try out new pastel techniques or simply keep your hand in when you're short of time. You can work from life or from a photo - it's up to you. Try timing yourself, keeping your sketch within a 30, 45 or 60-minute time limit. When your time's up, STOP - and share your efforts with us here! Remember, there's no pressure to produce a masterpiece - but you just might come up with a nice little piece of art.

Take a look at last week's sketches to see what can be done in an hour:

Look forward to seeing your sketches! :)

06-05-2005, 07:34 PM
To get this week's ball rolling, here is a one-hour plein air sketch I did sitting on a very uncomfortable rock in Cambridge's Botanic Gardens this afternoon! It's 6x9" in oil pastels on Ingres paper. My husband and a friend were sketching nearby and we had a very pleasant afternoon.


06-05-2005, 07:49 PM
Give yourself a gold star, E-J! Lovely sketch!!!

06-05-2005, 08:15 PM
I love your plant E-J. It makes me think I should try my oil pastels again. I have not done much with them - just a quick sketch of two red peppers that I did in art class when our teacher had us try oil pastels, and one picture I did later on my own.

I love this thread. I want to practice a lot, but don't have lots of free time either, what with having to work for a living and all. :D

But setting myself a goal to spend no more than an hour, and see what I can get done in that time, is a really great one. I'm still learning, so not letting myself get too hung-up about artistic compostion and stuff yet, still trying to learn technique. This is a still life I set up this afternoon. I just propped up a red apron I have for the background, and plunked three objects in front of it on my dining room table. The candlestick came out rather asymmetrical, but maybe I can claim it's just an "arty" shape, LOL.

I spent about 45 minutes on this one, seems to be about the limit of my attention span! It's done with NuPastels on a 12x16 piece of Canson Mi-Tientes paper, using the *wrong* (smooth) side for the first time, now that I know I can. Wow, I really loved using the smooth side. Now I won't have to throw out the pads of Canson Mi-Tientes I bought.

Debbie C.

06-06-2005, 12:13 AM
E-J, the calla lily is gorgeous. I am greener than those leaves with envy.

Debbie C., you gave yourself a tough assignment, 3 objects in 45 minutes! That candlestick would take me a week. Love the glassy sheen on the bottle.

I just finished sketch of the day, which I will post tomorrow when my camera batteries have charged. How is it that so many people's pictures come out as thumbnails? Mine don't.

06-06-2005, 04:43 AM
Cheers Sooz. With the three of us there we sort of had an informal little plein air group going - much less daunting than sitting out there on your own!

Agnes, I guess it's the attachments feature rather than the uploader which produces thumbnails ... I use the latter and mine don't generate them either.

Debbie, yes, the whole work thing really gets in the way of art! Last year I took the (for me) drastic step of cutting down to a four-day week so that I could take more time for painting. I'm always short of money now but my Fridays are non-negotiable and I wouldn't give them up for anyone. The 60-min sketches are a great way of making time for art when you only have evenings, though. You certainly set yourself a challenge with that still life and I'm amazed by the smoothness you achieved on the Canson. I enjoy the smooth side too, though I know many here have abandoned the basic pastel papers for sanded surfaces, which I also use sometimes. You've still got the fun of trying out new pastel surfaces to look forward to! :)

06-07-2005, 04:47 PM
I mis-post my first painting post on last week's thread. Sorry.

So, my post w/goals is here:

And I'll attach the bitty Atmosperic Susan here again. Not that is is my best or most representative painting, but I REALLY like the idea of doing weekly ditties. It was rather freeing for Her Analness!

06-07-2005, 05:48 PM
Hi, Skyvine. :wave: For your first attempt you're doing just fine. I like that background a lot. If you tell us what kind of photo program you have, maybe someone can offer some advice on sizing. I'm using PhotoDeluxe, and it took me a couple of weeks to get the hang of it.

I worked on hour on this slice of watermelon. Thought it was a simple subject, but you can see it could use another hour. It turned out to be seedless, so there's not much contrast in the picture.


06-07-2005, 05:55 PM
Love the colors in the atmospheric, skyvine! And that looks like a very lifelike slice of melon to me, Agnes! Was this softies or oilies?

06-07-2005, 06:05 PM
Hi, Sooz. It's soft pastels on the smooth side of Canson, about 8" x 4 ".

06-07-2005, 06:07 PM
I use Picasa 2. It's from Ritz Camera and it also supports Hello, a program used for blogging pictures, so I have stayed with using Picasa 2. Not only does it arrange my stuff in a photo library to my liking, it can make many adjustments to the images. However, it is certainly no PhotoShop. I need to fiddle with it some more. I'm sure resizing is something I'm missing.

We've been picturing clouds and sunsets a lot around here - my boyfriend got a new digital - so I've also been looking up Turner and Constable. Funny how influences come shining through.

06-07-2005, 07:07 PM
Skyvine, on my program there's a button called "Save and Send" for publishing things to the web. You choose "publish to the www" and it automatically resizes it. Before I found it, I was resizing using the regular photoshop features and couldn't seem to get them right, but I didn't understand that "Save and Send" would do it all for me. (I'm no tekkie, as you can see.) I just wondered if you would have something similar yet undiscovered on your program. I'm a big Turner fan, so keep those sunset colours coming!

06-07-2005, 08:02 PM
But setting myself a goal to spend no more than an hour, and see what I can get done in that time, is a really great one. I'm still learning, so not letting myself get too hung-up about artistic compostion and stuff yet, still trying to learn technique.

Look at that bottle shine......blinding!!!!!! :clap:

Debbie, I think you are on the right track......you will be amazed at how fast you will grow artistically if you continue as you are now doing...It was this sketch thread that aforded me many learning experiences. Just keep your hand moving with your eye and above all, enjoy!(one good thing too, these little 1 hour jobs can sometimes turn out to be very marketable pieces. Others can attest to that, too)

Now that I have solved my computer woes, I am ready to start posting again....Yeah thats right,,,ya'll can't get rid of me. :evil:

06-07-2005, 08:23 PM
I use Picasa 2. I need to fiddle with it some more. I'm sure resizing is something I'm missing.

I use Picasa 2 and adore it. I use it almost exclusively these days. To size a picture with Picasa just do the following:
- While viewing a picture click on the Export button on the lower right. There you specify the folder you want to export a copy of the picture too, and at the same time you can resize it by giving it the specific number of pixels you want.

Debbie C.

06-07-2005, 09:07 PM
Look at that bottle shine......Debbie, I think you are on the right track......you will be amazed at how fast you will grow artistically if you continue as you are now doing

Thanks, I was quite happy with the bottle. The trick will be when I can make the bottles come out like that all the time! Very often they are duds. But the last few I've attempted seem to keep coming out better, so that's a good trend. :p

And that thought of being able to *sell* something? Well that's far in my future, but fun to contemplate. I have no clue where or how I would sell, but that's a bridge to be crossed then. In the meantime I love these one-hour exercises. Just perfect for me.


06-07-2005, 09:40 PM
EJ this botanical beauty is so lyrical in movement....that's the best way for me to describe it.(technique is a given ) I think the unpigmented support gives even more strength to the composition as a whole. That's a challenge for me, knowing where to stop but you handle it well.

Skyvine Uplifting is the word and feeling that came when I opened up the thumbnail. Beautiful and powerful in its simplicity!!

Agnes.....Now you have me craving watermelon. I can just about taste this one!

06-07-2005, 10:20 PM
I can't thank you enough! It works like a charm without much ado.

Uplifting is what you gave me in return, too.

Hey, maybe I can do this uploading of my work thing. It pays dividends.

06-07-2005, 11:55 PM
I am going to try and keep this up. Here is this weeks try. Proabably tried to work on something too complicated. Oh well!

06-08-2005, 01:50 AM
Wow, Paulette! I love the little interior ptg! Has a lot of life to it and you've managed that foreshortened grand piano with lots more courage than I'd have! What fun! Fantastic! Bunches of other superlative words...! :D

06-08-2005, 02:29 AM
Paulette.....this has a Victorian feel...nice comp...one well worth persuing in a larger more painting...the strokes on the piano are fresh and clean giving it character. So painterly.... and Sooz is right about the difficulty of the foreshortened piano.

This is a 45 min loose, fun and carefree painting on 9" x 12" Wallis Belgian. painted from life of a pineapple top. I may tweek it later and carry it to a more refined state, so C&C appreciated.


06-08-2005, 08:02 AM
Wonderful to see the sketch thread enjoying such a frenzy of activity this week!

Skyvine, thanks for joining us. I love the expressive and unusual background you've created there.

Agnes, rich colour and nice textures - subtle but effective. Did you eat the slice afterwards or was it all covered in pastel dust??

Paulette, this is terrific for one hour - yes, it's ambitious, but you've risen to the challenge. Do you think you'll follow Preston's idea and revisit the subject as a larger piece?

Preston, I really like the sense of light you've somehow created on the plant pot - using blue on red?! Dunno how you did that! I would suggest losing the harsh dark horizontal line in the background, but you'll probably be doing that anyway. Really nice to see you back!

Debbie, it might encourage you to learn that I posted my first pastel sketch here in February 2003 - and made my first sale just nine months later! This place has been so helpful. I'm sure you'll find your own art developing in leaps and bounds.

06-08-2005, 11:50 AM
Thank you are for your comments. I love the composition as well and decided last night that I would do a formal piece. There are some aspects of the photo that I did not incorporate that I think will add to it. This was in a grand old hotel in Aguascalientes, Mexico and the photos from that one room will give me much fodder for other pieces. I really like the one hour exercises, it help one see what works!! I have been so deliberate before, this is really good for me. You all are so encouraging. Thank you for the time that you take to help us!!! You are :angel: s

06-08-2005, 12:04 PM
Love the pineapple top, Preston...I think the loose, free approach is what makes it seem so alive. Looks fun to do!

06-08-2005, 11:05 PM
My hydrangias are now in bloom so I scalped the bush of all its first blossoms to have a bouquet to paint from life. Again, this is a fast, loose and carefree study with possibly a bona fide painting in the near future, so C&C welcome,

12" x 18" Wallis Belgian....1 hour


06-09-2005, 10:44 AM
Love the looseness of the pieces, Preston! My eye wants to see the greens recede less... perhaps some yellow/green highlights somewhere might make it come out for a bit of balance. The pineapple seems a bit overblue.

The hydrangeas are great... my eye again sees imbalance in the green. Perhaps bring a bit of green to the tabletop or vase?

06-09-2005, 12:00 PM
Love the hydrangeas too!

06-09-2005, 12:10 PM
Thanks Dan...I have to agree with your comments......thanks for the feedback....perhaps adding in the green leaves to the table top as I had set up in real life would help address the green color balance.

Sooz...painting fresh cut hydrangias is becoming an annual ritual with me...marks the beginning of summer.....I did one last year for this thread, too.

06-09-2005, 09:35 PM
Preston, I like the hydrangea sketch. It's great to have an annual ritual like that.

Paulette, that's such an elegant interior. I was afraid for a minute it was your own house! :) I hope you return to it because it's got a lot of potential.

I thought you all might like to see these three attempts at an apple tree. They're all on colourfix paper in a blue-gray colour. They all have a watercolour underpainting, which is the first time I've tried this, and they're worked over the top with Rembrandts, Unisons, and Schminckes.

#1 is 5" x 7". It took about an hour for the underpainting and top painting both.


#2 is the same size, 5" x 7". It was an attempt to do a better job of the tree, drawing from the original sketch. Again, watercolour with pastels on top, about an hour.


#3 is about 10" x 12". I returned to the same scene at the same time of day, and started from scratch. The point of view was a little different. The first two were facing the river and this is facing the other way. There are a lot of mulberry bushes surrounding the tree - I'm always tempted to bring a saw down there and trim away the undergrowth to show the whole tree trunk. In this version I turned all that foliage into tall grass with hints of flowers.


06-09-2005, 09:38 PM
Silly me, I got #1 and #1 reversed. #2 should be first, done entirely at the scene in an hour.

06-09-2005, 10:26 PM
These are great studies, Agnes!! Love 'em! Old apple trees have so much character, don't they? Wonderful work!

06-10-2005, 12:18 AM
Agnes....These are indeed great tree studies......can't decide a fav so I won't pick......the plein air has its own feeling that seperates it from the studio works. Have you posted in the plein air forum?

OK.. I will choose my fav..........#3 :D (I like its colors best)

06-10-2005, 03:31 AM
Hey Preston, I recognise those hydrangeas! I'm impressed that you managed to produce both a soft pastel and an OP version of them! The cool colour scheme has a restful feel.

Agnes, all three of your tree studies are lovely. I tried a watercolour underpainting on Colourfix recently and really enjoyed it. Like the confident chunkiness of #1-which-is-really-#2, and the delicate strokes you've used for #3. Preston's right, the Plein Air forum would enjoy seeing these!

06-10-2005, 09:15 AM
Thanks for the positive feedback, everybody. To be honest, they look better here than in real life, but they all look better than I thought when they were first done. I'll take your suggestion and post to plein air.

06-10-2005, 09:32 AM
Agnes, I know that feeling of seeing your painting posted to the screen and suddenly thinking it looks a lot cuter! In those cases, if I'm really not that happy with the painting itself I figure it might be a good choice for making prints instead. And the opposite phenomenon is infinitely worse ... having to post an image with a pile of excuses about how it doesn't really look that bad in real life! Seems to happen a lot with digital images of my oil pastels and it's quite frustrating.

06-10-2005, 09:40 AM
That's a good idea about prints, E-J, thanks. I've been having some success with small things on my home printer that I hope to use for publicity purposes. I did post the sketches to Plein-Air but made a mistake and put them in Plein-Air Studio Paintings. I don't want to clutter all of WC with this post, so I'll leave it at that and see if anybody notices.

Deborah Secor
06-11-2005, 01:13 AM
I love all the work in here this week--watermelon and flowers and roomscapes and trees! Very nice...

Here's one I did in about 45 minutes at class on Thursday. We were in my area, looking out at the Ortiz Mountains from a nice southwestern mountain garden.


I'm not sure I got the overlap of those two trees yet, but that was part of the fun! I'm sure enjoying this working on location stuff... Makes me breathe differently, if you know what I mean! Refreshing. Even with the gnat bites! :rolleyes:


06-11-2005, 01:27 AM
Deborah....The red orange glow of the wall really catches the eye played against the blue green of the sky. The break up of the plane is interesting with its colorful pleasing shapes. It took a minute to see what you were talking about in the trees, so the overlap is working, but I agree it can be more pronounced.

Ahh, how nice to look out on this view....I can only imagine how refreshing it was to be there.

06-11-2005, 02:09 PM
Hello Deborah! Your sketches are always a pleasure to see here, not to mention educational for the rest of us. How big is this one? I like the way you've simplified the scene ... reduced it to uncomplicated masses of colour. It is a nice plein air but could also be the beginnings of a studio piece.

Deborah Secor
06-11-2005, 02:13 PM
Thanks, glad you all like it...

This one is my usual 12x18", a quarter sheet of Wallis, with probably an inch removed all the way around by the tape. It's a bit more red here than in real. I was just thinking that I need to add some more to my Garden page on my website, since what's there is all aged looking to me. Maybe this would be a good candidate for a finished work--although I'd recompose a bit, I'm sure.