View Full Version : Eiffel Tower For Emily

Tom Behnke
01-07-2006, 11:47 AM

Title: Eiffel Tower For Emily
Year Created: 2006
Medium: Pastel
Surface: Paper
Dimension: 11 X 14
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

Hi Everyone:

This was a Christmas present for my daughter. It is both my first attempt at a picture of solely inanimate objects, (I have exclusively drawn wildlife previous to this) and my first use of black paper. I used a Rembrandt stick white soft pastel and a white pastel pencil (can't remember the brand, and all my art supplies are in another location right now.

I guess I want an honest opinion of the work from people who work in the medium. Laypersons have offered some wonderful compliments, but I am a perfectionist, and I am not quite happy with the fountain sprays. Any advice or techniques to make the spray more ethereal would be greatly appreciated.

I am completely self-taught, and anything I got right was through trial and error. All the things I got wrong were probably due to trying to reinvent the wheel. But I hope I have found a source in WC.

Thanks for the input. And be brutal if necessary. I want to get better, not get stroked. :>

01-07-2006, 12:10 PM
It would be very difficult for me to be highly critical of this work as I find it to be quite good. Your proportions seem to be spot on. The fountain sprays don't bother me at all. You've chosen a difficult subject and I really think you've done some work that you can be proud of.

I think I would have to examine fountain sprays in action to be able to tell if you've made any mistakes. you must account for wind when discussing the direction the water is going. I think what you've done looks perfectly natural. Perhaps you want the sprays to be more translucent? You can see the background through them....no problem in that area. maybe you want them to be more solid? but water isn't really solid.

so all I can really offer, I guess, would be some suggestion on tools. putty eraser, of course, for pulling out large areas. and a nice papermate stick eraser for details. It is a white eraser and leaves no trace of itself. working on black paper is difficult as any little mark you make seems to scar the paper. you pretty much have to get it right the first time.

I like to work on white paper and blacken the entire page with a hard pastel. this generally takes several coats before the black is nice and smooth. then I pull out the general shape with the putty eraser, adding back in with black where necessary. and so I build in reverse. You might like to give this technique a try. It can be very satisfying. I don't do much with the soft pastels until the end when I want to pump up my colours.....and colours on black paper virtually sing.

sorry, I haven't had much critism to offer on this piece. next time throw out something a little crummy and maybe I'll do better. :)

Tom Behnke
01-07-2006, 02:42 PM

Well, Thank you!

And thank you so much for the advice on tools. I have to find the papermate stick eraser. It sounds like a must.

I am DEFINITELY going to try your technique of 'blacking' the white paper and working in reverse.

Yes. I wanted the sprays more translucent, I guess. I think the fountain gets a little too lost. This photo is actually (and surprisingly for me) very true to the original.

Someone said that it works better that the fountain is more hidden because when you finally notice it, it pops out at you.

The other mistake that glares out at me is the way the spouts of water look. Too stiff, I think.

Thank you for taking the time.

01-07-2006, 06:15 PM
my pleasue Tom, and welcome to wetcanvas! I'm interested to see what you do now, be it make changes or start fresh. let me know...

01-08-2006, 12:38 AM

This is delightful...as one who has been there, it evokes wonderful memories

As one who stuggles with pastel, I admir the economy of your strokes.

It is a wonderful piece....if te sprays don't please you, you may be too close..they look believeable and fresh to me


01-08-2006, 01:25 AM
i think you've done a marvelous job ... if the fountains were more detailed they'd detract from the subject ... as they are, they provide a lovely quality to the piece ... it's lovely

01-08-2006, 01:59 AM
I think is is a very nive drawing. I think that the spray looks authentic.
Being that you are self taught there are some things that as non self artists are taught. (some one invented perspective)
The sky, Even thought the sky is probably the same value, the part where is is encapsulated in the middle of the tower, looks darker. This is where my eye is drawn and gets stuck. It is an optical illusion.
Cameras take a picture one eye, and we accept that, but when we revert it to a drawing we want to accept it as seeing with both.
Ive been there and wish I were there now, the feeling and the awe isnt dampend.

Tom Behnke
01-08-2006, 02:36 AM
Grunge. Thanks again. This piece is finished and framed for good or bad (my daughter liked it and that was who it was for, the learning experience was secondary.) I will be posting a piece more representative of the subjects I do as soon as my digital and pc stop disobeying my orders, :>.

Pampe. Thank you. And glad I could make your reminisce. I appreciate your comments about economy of strokes, something I am usually guilty of overdoing, but the size and black paper forced me to be conservative.

Violet: Thank you so much.

Polka: Oh god, you NAILED it. Actually not an illusion. I originally made the hole too small and too low and had to erase/fudge/smudge out and put it where it belonged and then re-add the black. But I didn't take the haze from the streetlights in the back into account. It should be a value or so grayer. Great eye. Thanks. It is already framed and in my daughter's hands, so too late, but something I will watch for with horizon lines in the future. Thanks also for the compliments.

Carla G
01-08-2006, 03:04 AM
Laypersons have offered some wonderful compliments

WOW That is awsome. I love it.

01-13-2006, 10:10 PM
I am also a perfectionist and self-taught.....tower leans to the right just a tad......nice work!!!!

01-14-2006, 06:07 PM
I do not have experience with your medium but I know that you have very good talent with what you do. This is very nice. I am sure your daughter loved it. Good job :clap:

Funny how I paint with so many colours and appreciate B/W also very much.

Tom Behnke
01-15-2006, 01:38 AM

I am floored by all the positive feedback, and thankful for the helpful criticism.

Thank you all.

Esmerlinda: This is this first pastel I have ever done monochromatic. Unique effect and a definite learning experience.