View Full Version : The ultimate challenge

02-19-2003, 12:32 PM
I started this the night before last, and my goal was to make the buds look alive. This is done almost completely using only pastel dust, applied with a round brush. The only places I used the actual pastel stick was on the highlit edges of the closed buds, a little on the petal edges, and that was it.

I had to work out a few challenges..The green dust went on smoothly however the pink did not- it kept lifting so I used my finger to push it into the tooth to give it opacity.

I also discovered a way to glaze. Using a makeup blush brush, I was able to glaze very dark green pastel dust over the top of the background, to push it back. This worked wonderfully! It didnt lift the layers below at all.

This is my first attempt at really high realism, and I am pleased with this result. I still have to adjust the background here and there. Let me know if you think its a little too busy.. I can glaze it back more. 15x22 black Stonehenge.


02-19-2003, 01:16 PM
Oh My God! This is brilliant!
With pastel dust??? How do you do that? How do you pick it up and apply it to the board/paper?

Anyway, don't change the background, I wouldn't want it quieter.

Absolutely love it!


02-19-2003, 01:40 PM
Thankyou Soap.

I get dust from sanding the pastel on a rasp, onto a piece of paper or paper towel. Then I just pick it up with my brush, and scumble it onto the paper. Using the side of the bristles rather than the tip allows the pastel to be pushed a little into the tooth.. using the bristles upright tends to remove it somewhat. I can push the dust into the edges, using a side to side motion, leaving a clean edge. Then I just hold up the paper and tap the back to get rid of excess dust.

Bev :)

02-19-2003, 02:09 PM
Absolutely gorgeous and stunning Bev :clap: :clap: .... the bud is exquisite

Love it :clap:

02-19-2003, 02:47 PM
This is just too beautiful...I'm in awe! How you do that with dust is amazing!!

My one comment on composition would be that everything is focused on the left of the surface with the one bud jutting over that dark open space. Bringing out some of the leafy areas below the flower would give it some support...much like you did in the area to the upper left. Keeping them in the background in the same way would give support to the bud but not overpower the flower.

I can't wait to see your next piece...I think this style is especially beautiful with florals.

Katherine J
02-19-2003, 05:01 PM
This is really beautiful, Bev, and an incredible technique. You've truly mastered that dust! I'm inclined to agree with Carly about the focus on the left, but another solution could be to crop it slightly on the right. It's really a spectacular painting.


02-19-2003, 05:13 PM
Absolutely gorgeous - I LOVE your flowers!!! You do them so well!

02-19-2003, 05:16 PM
Wonderful Bev. Which pastel brand are you using? I really like those greens.

02-19-2003, 05:21 PM
I was certain this was a photograph and not a pastel at all till I read further in your posting. OUTSTANDING!!! If you ever decide to do a demo I think you'd find a lot of interest here.

Your attempt at "really high realism" is phenomenal and I'm sure you are totally pleased with this.

Great job!!!!


02-19-2003, 05:41 PM
Wow, thankyou all for your nice comments! Makes my day. :)

I agree about your suggestion, Carly. I see exactly what you mean. I admit I got lazy when it came to the background leaves. You can tell there isnt much to them, but I'm not all that fussy about the heart-shapes I have all over the place in there, so I'll try to put some where you suggest, and give them a more appealing shape. The flowers I did in my other post were not all with dust, but I was working too small in those ones anyway. This one, being large, gave me the room I needed to work this method out. I'm amazed at how smooth a finish this has using the dust.

Katherine, one problem I had with this photo I used was composition. The flower is actually off to the right in the photo, pointing right out of the frame. So I added more space to the right, but even then it isnt the best composition. Again, this is a copyrighted photo so wont be used for anything other than my own learning process. Eventually I will get around to taking my own. :)

Llis, these are a bit of Terrys, a bit of Nupastel, and one or two of the Rembrandts. The neat thing about using dust is.. you can make any green you want. The sets never seem to have just that green you want, do they? This way I can blend the dust before applying it. Cool.

All in all, I am pleased with this. These little coloured sticks are quite amazing little things.. they allow me to do far more than I imagined, or was able to do with paint.

A demo Barb? Me? lol.. and watch me muddle through step by step? hmmm..I did enough of that in wildlife! lol
Actually, Gaka posted a demo for his hyacinth macaws, where he tells how to use the dust.

thanks again everyone :)


02-19-2003, 06:29 PM
When I first pull this up I couldn't quit looking at it and said out loud, "Oh my God." Then I panned down and found the next post saying what I just did. I would love to see a demo.

02-19-2003, 08:54 PM
WOW, I AM TOTALLY BLOWN AWAY, THIS IS AMAZING!!!! Truly amazing. What kind of brush do you push the pastel into the paper with, is it a natrual bristle? I have never seen this technique before.


02-19-2003, 09:24 PM
Bev, I have to join the chorus in saying these pictures you've been posting have all been wonderful but this one is astounding. I tried Gaka's dust method myself and the results were not bad, but you make it sing! Can't wait to see your next work.:clap:

02-20-2003, 12:27 AM
This is truly beauitful and truly outstanding work.....:clap:


02-20-2003, 12:47 AM
I bow to your talent!!!!!Absolutely perfect:D

02-20-2003, 01:01 AM
Originally posted by BevL

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Feb-2003/1746-flowerbuds_025a.jpg [/B]
What an exquisite work! It is almost 'too' perfect.
I MIGHT have considered a dusting of pale pink as a smudge as if peeking though some distant foliage in lower right quarter of the painting, just to take some of the focus off the main bud/branch.
Looking forward to seeing more of these!

02-20-2003, 07:43 AM
Thankyou for your comments Bkargraves, Shari, Angecald, Birdie, Redsy and Jillian

Shari, I just used a small old round synthetic paintbrush. Used two actually... one for the pink, and one for the greens. Its pretty much a question of whatever works to get the dust onto the paper. (for myself, anyway). Experiment.

Jillian, I actually thought about adding pink here and there, but never ended up doing it. Good suggestion. I also like the hints of stems, which are a pinkish colour, so a couple of those on the right would work.

Um, Redsy? Hope you dont mind my saying this but.. I was looking through the 'just for fun' post couple days ago...and I was struck by how much you resemble someone I knew a long time ago. You have a beautiful smile. :)


02-20-2003, 10:17 AM
OMG Bev . . .how did I nearly miss this???!!!!
This is outstanding!! . . great techinique too!! . . must try using a brush :) You've certainly used "the eye" you developed in wildlife art and translated it to these pastel paintings you've been posting. And quite a stunning development for someone who's only been doing this for such a short time!!
Keep 'em coming!!
Crumby :)

02-20-2003, 11:28 AM
Originally posted by BevL

Um, Redsy? Hope you dont mind my saying this but.. I was looking through the 'just for fun' post couple days ago...and I was struck by how much you resemble someone I knew a long time ago. You have a beautiful smile. :)


LOL :D I dont mind, just as long as you didnt dislike that person;)hehe and Thank You for the kind comment!!:D

02-20-2003, 11:44 AM
Redsy.. how can one not like a person with a smile like that! :)

Tom. I gotta confess something. When I first saw your work in the wildlife forum oh so many months ago... I thought "okay.. where'd THIS guy come from!"
I was trying so hard to achieve life and realism with my paintings and you waltz in there with your most incredible paintings and to think you painted them with chalk! What nerve! lol

But.. I also confess that you are one of the people who's work I hold up as hoping to someday gain even just a fraction of your kind of skill. So.. my little buds up there?.. its inspired by your work. I couldnt not try it! So now you know. I'm a closet admirer. :D


02-20-2003, 12:15 PM
Good grief, Bev! When are you going to find a medium that DOESN'T work for you?!?!?!? :eek: You're truly an amazing talent. I am so very, very impressed.

Keep up the good work, my friend. I'm glad to see you are still alive with your art.

02-20-2003, 12:22 PM
Maryjane. I want you to know... you are instrumental in some of the changes you're seeing lately. I mean that. Thankyou, my friend. :)

02-20-2003, 12:24 PM
Don't be thilly! :p Your art comes from within you, Bev. No one can bring it forth or take it away but you. You are one of God's gifts to this world, and I thank Him for you.

02-20-2003, 08:16 PM
Incredibly beautiful, gobsmacking work!
I so admire your wonderful talent for detail.

So very, very beautiful, I'm repeating myself but seeing your work can't help it. :)


02-20-2003, 08:45 PM
Thanks MJ and Mo. :)

I feel quite .. gosh.. I dont even know what to say.

MJ.. between what you said and the two phonecalls I got this morning I am lost for words. Its overwhelming.


02-21-2003, 01:11 AM
Wow...I want to ask, "Is it pixie dust?"

Beautiful, it gets my attention. Nice work Bev.

02-21-2003, 01:21 AM
Wow...I want to ask, "Is it pixie dust?"

Uh... you might say that....

Thankyou, PCool. Pleased you like it. :)


02-21-2003, 04:49 AM

02-21-2003, 07:29 AM
Bev... as a newcomer to pastels I can't even begin to imagine how you create something like this, with such perfect detail and finish... wow :clap:

02-21-2003, 10:04 AM
Wow that is fantastic!! I don't think I could be so daring with the dust - you've done a brilliant job.

02-21-2003, 08:14 PM
Have to join the litany....WOW!!!!

I sat here staring at your gorgeous work and then had to share with somebody so I called my wife in to look at it. She wanted to see the pastel, she was sure that was the reference photo!

:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
Thanks for the inspiration!

02-21-2003, 09:31 PM
WOW!!!!!!!!!! Just superb-what everyone else said!!!!! This sings!!!

02-22-2003, 12:23 AM
This is incredible Bev. Just wondering how you went about the painting ...... at what stage did you do the background?
I am in AWE!:clap:

02-22-2003, 01:04 AM
Thankyou all again for such nice comments. If anyone is gobsmacked right now, its me.

Lulu, I worked the background pretty much at the same time as the flower. Once I had the buds and base of the blossom in, and after bringing them to a certain level of detail, I then worked the background up to the edges of the buds. (trying to remember how I did this). Then I worked back and forth between the two.. because when you bring the background dust up to the bud, you're going to lose the clean edge there. As well, when you add more detail to the bud, such as in those spikey things on the bottom of the bud, again you lose the clean edges and once again have to work to clean that up. So adjusting both alternately was what worked best for me. I left the pink blossom for last, to avoid getting dark dust where I needed to keep it as clean as possible. I was able, however, to brush that dark glaze around over the background, by just keeping away from getting too close to the pink blossom. The large fluffy blush brush was perfect.. I could just drag it lightly and slowly over the background without creating a cloud of dust, and without lifting the layers below.

This was a definite exercise in not quite knowing what my next step was going to be. I just had to try things as I went along and work out solutions.

When the pink dust wouldnt adhere to the paper.. no matter what it just kept moving around and lifting.. i looked around me for anything to use to get that dust to stay put. Finally I thought 'the hell with it', and mushed it in with my fingers. lol

02-22-2003, 01:44 AM
:clap: :clap: I have to add my appluads!!! If you were trying?? for realism kiddo I THINK YOU MADE IT !!!!!! Absolutely stunning. Did you already say what paper and color of background you used? If you did don't answer I will look back.


02-22-2003, 03:12 AM
Thanks for your reply Bev.

Just had a thought - imagine if you mistakenly used that blusher brush on your cheeks!!! LOL
Sorry, my sense of humour, it's what I would probably do!:D

02-22-2003, 03:33 AM
Hi Lulu

I have numerous blush brushes around, and this one had never been used. However.. I didnt need to mix up one I use for pastels with one I use on my cheeks. I get enough pastel dust on me as it is! As careful as I try to be, I end up covered in the stuff. I was working with the paper on a flat surface and leaning over it just slightly had my hair dragging on the paper. I had smudges of green on my temples and forehead from constantly pushing my hair back, and smudges on my shirt from trying to hold my hair against my chest. (finally got wise and braided it!), and when I went to wash my hands and caught sight of myself in the mirror, I was greatful that no one chose that moment to knock on my door.

02-22-2003, 09:44 AM
I'm sorry Gerry, I saw your post and neglected to answer it. When i responded to Lulu it was around 3am and I wasnt quite with it.

Thankyou for your nice comments. The paper is black Stonehenge, half a sheet.

Bev :)

02-22-2003, 02:29 PM
I just want to mention that I have contacted the photographer who took the reference photo, and have received his permission to use it any way I want.

Had I imagined that this would turn out as anything more than just a piece I was playing around with to learn from, I would have contacted him beforehand.


02-23-2003, 11:32 AM
I've seen pastels used this way with a number of artists now... one of 'em our frog friend from the Animal forum (can't think of his name at the moment)...

Its interesting to see the different conventions and unique ways that art stretches a person to not only be creative in their work, but their processes. You've certainly risen to that end here Bev, very nice!!!


02-23-2003, 04:53 PM
Thanks Larry :)

It is interesting to try something completely new, and to push myself to figure out the ways and means of doing it. I needed this new focus at this time.. something totally unfamiliar and challenging.

I didnt set out to even enjoy it, let alone accomplish anything with it. I was just doing it 'cause you can only read so many books and watch so many home decorating shows and sing 'Hickory Dickory Dock' to your parrot so many times before you start to break out in hives. ;)


02-24-2003, 09:18 AM
Hi Bev

This is just a stunning piece of art work :clap:

I seen your work just after you posted it but I could not reply until now....You can achieve some wonderfull effects with the dust method as well as get such softness and create beautiful light, all of which you have done here. I apply my dust with a tissue or cotton bud or q-tip as it is much faster than using a Brush....the dust can be applied with many different things...feather, felt, chamoise, cardboard, leather, tortillon, color shaper etc. It is realy up to the user a to which works best for them personally.

When you get the hang of using the dust method it is relatively simple and very effective and can be used for many different styles and subjects. It works just as well for still life, nudes, portraites, and could also create some great effects using it in
landscape painting. As well as wildlife and flowers as you already know. that is not to say that everyone should paint in this style, but it is a lot of fun for those who do.

I hope that my Macaw article has been an inspiration for you or you have gained an insight into using pastel dust as another method in your pastel artwork, more, more, more, we want more :D

Outstanding, just beautifull, love your work :clap:


02-24-2003, 12:06 PM
I read your article through a few times, still not comprehending how you acheived such feather detail with dust.

Now that I've tried the dust method, I can understand a little more how it was possible. Still a far reach for me, I should think.. the fur on your roo was just so amazing, I cant imagine it.. dust or no dust!

I was having a really difficult time with Q-tips. Soon as I put them to the paper, no matter how gently, they just went limp and fluffy. I became very frustrated with them early in the game, so switched to the brush. I also tried pressed cotton pads, makeup eyeshadow sponges, and numerous sizes of eyeshadow brushes. You are right.. almost anything goes. :)

I must try using a feather! I have plenty at my disposal!

Thanks again, Gaka, for your kind words. I am looking forward to seeing your next masterpiece. :)


02-24-2003, 12:16 PM
Oh Wow! Any chance of a demo of how you did it?

Fantastic Work