View Full Version : Newbie needs advice and critique

10-26-2000, 12:36 AM
Hi everyone,

This is my first time to post a message here but I had been browsing this forum a lot for the past month and I really like it here. I just started learning how to draw less than 3 months ago. After a couple of months being comfortable with it, I decided to move into colors. I am not ready to do some serious painting yet so I bought pastels....I almost gave it up though....because my first attempt was really bad :-/....but I knew I had to practice to get better....with all the tips and advice that I read in this forum of course :-)

Anyway, I just finished a couple of portraits using different techniques and I want a lot of insights about it on how to improve it, or at least the next one anyway...

The first one was blended....but I thought it lacked life...I don't really like it to be honest.

The second one, it's the first time that I used black paper and it was frustrating because the color shows through the pastels no matter how much I try to cover it up...

Anyway, hope to hear feedback....



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[This message has been edited by jdk (edited October 27, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by jdk (edited October 27, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by jdk (edited October 28, 2000).]

10-27-2000, 01:39 AM
I'd love to see them, I'm starting to delve into pastels myself... Unfortunately I don't see them posted here...



10-27-2000, 12:49 PM
It is rather a shame that we cannot see the portraits you painted, in order to offer advice! I am new to this site, but not new to pastel painting, and have taught for years. I think you are really brave to attempt a portrait when you only started just a few months back, so i am sure, with that sort of courage, you will go from strength to strength. In general, though, I would suggest that you work on mid-toned papers, they are the easiest, and won't give you the sort of problems you had with black paper. Black paper gives the most contrast with the lightest pastel marks, but that may not be what you want, if you were trying to "cover it up". A soft, pearly or oyster grey paper will work much better with skin tones, and you won't be "fighting" the paper. Blending can look a bit soft and squidgy if you use it exclusively; do look hard at pastel portraits done by master painters, both older ones (such as Mary Cassatt) and contemporary painters too - yu have marvellous books in the US which will teach you so much if you study the pics really hard, and see what techniques the artists used. Keep up the good work, and don't just stick with portraits - try everything. Jackie<FONT face="Comic Sans MS">Text</FONT f>

10-27-2000, 02:04 PM
Strange....I DO see them here and they are beautiful!

JDK, the only advice I could possibly offer is just keep doing what you are doing. You have a great artistic sense and can truly capture a person's essence.



10-27-2000, 07:36 PM
I always need advice on Portraits myself so therefore cannot give advice.
I will say though that these are adorable and they look fine to me.

Tammy "I MUST be an Artist, artist".

10-27-2000, 11:45 PM
JDk the only problem I see is your paper choice. I only use Wallis sanded paper, it is white but you can tint it any color you wish, or the new art spectrum at Hobby lobbys is about 18 x 24" for 5.99. now heres the main problem, PAINT all the time! lol, the more you use pastels believe me the more they grow on you. Experiment, you will like hat you find, your a natural

10-28-2000, 06:55 AM
Hi again!

Thanks for your all comments....I apologize for the confusion....when I posted this message I forgot to upload the images....and not realizing that I can edit the same message, I posted it on a different topic called "images"....which was a mistake because then some, (like Jackie) missed. And so now that I found out I can still upload them here, I put them up within this message.

Anyway, for those of you who had replied to the "Images" thread, I hope you read my thanks to your comments (I think it was Ills and Colleen, I do have a very bad memory and I apologize)....

I must say that I all your comments are truly heart-warming and encouraging...thanks a lot, it gives me more inspiration to keep working at it...

Jackie, thanks for your comment....when I first picked up that proverbial pencil, the very first thing I drew was a portrait, from a photograph of my boyfriend's nephew...and went on from there....there is something about people as subjects that really inspires me....I tried to draw a cat once....a stuffed toy looks better than my drawing LOL!

Jackie (you've sent me a couple of emails already ----> Juvie) and Nick, you both are so right about the paper....I will NEVER use a dark paper again. I will stick to mid-tone grays and beiges from now on...but yeah, there is no harm in experimenting. I am planning to re-paint the bottom portrait because I really liked the subject and deserves a better treatment, hehe...

I think I have found my paper...I recently bought a sanded paper and I just fell in love with it!!!! It's great! It absorbs a lot of layers and the dusting is not as much as in canson. And the outcome is so smooth that I hardly have to blend....

Anyway, I am posting the new portrait here too....and I hope to hear more insights...

You guys are like my "artist's vitamins" :-)


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10-28-2000, 10:43 AM

Please take this in the manner intended: You make me sick! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

You've been using pastels for how many hours now? And your work is gorgeous!!I hate using this term because I know how hard we all work at our art but "you have a gift". Branch out and stretch your muscles. Your portraits are stunning and you really seem to capture the spirit of your subjects. Now try figures, landscapes, still life, animals, your imagination!!

I admire your work and look forward to more in the future.



10-28-2000, 12:59 PM
This last piece is amazing!
You're kidding, right? You've been at this for years, haven't you? You're having a little fun with us, are you? Pulling our legs?
I hope you aren't wasting time on any other sort of job. If you are, quit immediatly and go forth and paint! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif



Artworks by Gisela Towner (http://www.artistnation.com/members/paris/gisela)

10-28-2000, 03:11 PM
Nick and Gisela -----> ROFL!!!

But seriously, I haven't done this for a long time....I started drawing on July 02 to be exact. Before that, sometime around Easter I colored coloring books *blush*....when I look at artwork before, I used to say to myself, "Why didn't God give me such a talent?"....

I can't draw from head though....that's probably why portraits works well for me....believe me, I use to MEASURE each facial feature before I was finally able to draw without measuring and still, even now, I use the gridding method for accuracy. And Gisela, I think, that's just it...I just practice, practice, practice!!! Almost on a daily basis (well, that's if I don't feel lazy, hehe)....but the truth of the matter is, I went into drawing as a way of self-help against depression...it helps a lot...or at least most of the time...

Anyway, guys, as I said, I can't emphasize enough how great you all are for all your words of encouragement....

BTW, I do have a webpage but I haven't updated it yet....I will post the address as soon as it is updated again....

Best of art-luck to you all!!!


10-29-2000, 12:04 PM
I agree with everyone else, there is noway you could have just started working with Pastels and have talent like this!
I'm a pastel 20 yr. vet and you just blew me away on how these are done! Keep it up and show more....MORE! Love it! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif
I got to get busy myself!

10-29-2000, 07:49 PM
Originally posted by nnelson1:

Please take this in the manner intended: You make me sick! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

I'll second that! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif Truly amazing...



02-10-2001, 03:13 AM
In response to all the encouraging words from all of you who posted here, I would like to share my other works through my website. That is, if anyone is interested.

Thanks a zill!


02-10-2001, 12:35 PM

Wow, I am blown away. I am just learning how to draw, just started taking lessons but your work is truly amazing. I think you found your true calling in life -- follow it! I was about to get courageous and post my very first pastel, but I don't know about that now . . . . hmmm.


02-11-2001, 01:37 AM

Thanks...You're very kind....but don't be discouraged...the works that you saw, I didn't get to that on first attempt....of course, I have made several frustrating attempts before I finally got it...just keep on practicing and you will be surprised at yourself as well....I almost gave up myself...but take heart, and with a bit of patience, you'll get there....POST!!!! I'm curious!


02-14-2001, 04:34 PM
These portraits are great! I love how an artists can be self-taught and/or a natural and produce greater works than an artist with the most expensive schooling and materials. You are very good. I totally relate with you. I am self taught and have done only a handful of works b/c I am lazy or uninspired. I am starting up again to ward off depression also. Must go get me pastels...

I just draw what I see

02-22-2001, 09:19 PM
You have a gift and you must keep working. I'm self-taught as well, only I did find a wonderful teacher to teach me pastel. That's when I became committed to painting. Look for a teacher, someone whose style you connect with, who will teach you 1 on 1. There is so much to know about color, technique, and moving around in the art world. You really need a guide for that and someone to be there as you discover the process, not of painting, but of becoming an artist. Your talent is worth the investment. By the way, the artists I know measure EVERYTHING. I believed for 35 years of my life that I had no talent for drawing because I had to erase. I was sure that real Artists never had to erase. Happy to meet you! Donna

02-23-2001, 03:43 AM
Glorious: Thanks for the compliment. There are times when I find it hard to rise above depressive episodes and continue painting. But amazingly, painting can really be a very strong motivating force. Just keep on doing it. Don't let a week pass by without getting your hands on it. I do it about twice a week.

Donna: Nice to meet you. Thanks for your advice. You're right about finding that one teacher, unfortunately, I haven't found one yet. I live in a country that is only home to me for less than 2 years. And with my last experience of approaching a sort of gallery, I was brushed off because I didn't have a degree in art. That really upset me because I thought what mattered was my work. Right away she was already biased towards them. One day I hope I'll be able to find that teacher to study art with. Plus, I think it would also be fun to paint with another person, so I'm looking forward to that. Thanks again and good luck to you!


02-23-2001, 09:58 PM
Dear Juvie,

I just saw your work for the first time this evening. Also read with interest your most recent post.

The portraits you posted are remarkable knowing you have not trained with an instructor. If you can at all possible, at least purchase a couple of good contemporary portraitists' videos to study from along with some good books.

And as for the feedback you received from the gallery:

"... I was brushed off because I didn't have a degree in art. That really upset me because I thought what mattered was my work. "

I cannot speak for this gallery, but I would say they were not being direct with you, and just made this statement to sidestep giving you some good feedback. A good gallery will explain just why they don't care to carry your work. This gallery is not one you'd want to align yourself with anyway.

If you showed them portraits such as the ones you have displayed here...most galleries do not show pure portraits because they are of particular people. Unless a gallery will show your work so you could do commissioned pieces. Besides, if you live in a small area I would suggest doing both of the following:

1. Take or send photos of your best work along with bio, etc., to a Netherlands portrait society that markets portraitists paintings...

2. and do the same as #1, sending your work to a major city gallery that markets portraits or figurative work. You may have to take a day or two trip to a city to shop around for a couple of these types of galleries.

I also have a friend in Utrecht who is studying drawing and loves to do portraits. Do you live near Utrecht?

Wishing you all the best.

L. Diane Johnson (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/) NAPA, PSA
Plein Air Workshops (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/workshops/)

02-25-2001, 03:09 AM

Thanks for you insights. They're very helpful. I live half an hour from Utrecht. But it is a big university city so I can get lost up there :-D. But it's not so far.

I am trying to find a "teacher" but has no luck so far. I found one whose style I'd like to learn very much but he lives in Ireland so I don't know how I can swing that.

Anyway, thanks again for being so helpful.