Saturday, August 17, 2013

Step by Step through a Pastel Portrait

This is my niece's daughter Bailey. I loved the sunlight on the tips of her hair and her sweet expression. I took about 250 shots of her out in the garden. I needed a sample for a gallery in pastel and thought she would be a great subject.
I photographed these stages at night (which is when the world slows down enough for me to paint without distraction.) I used a warm light so the color is off a bit. The paper I used was white so you can see the warm tungsten lighting. 
I started with a charcoal drawing. You can see that I don't always get an exact likeness
especially in my first drawing. The likeness comes as I develop it more and more. 
Next I started laying in color, darks first.
It is very important to be able to get a likeness
and even more to convey the essence of
the person and not just to strive to be a copyist.
It is this stage that feels most like Kindergarten. It is a messy stage,
one of my teachers called it the 'burn victim stage'. 
Working in a mosaical fashion laying in chunks of color
I continue working all over the painting,
looking at my subject each time I record a stroke.
No matter what medium you use, you are drawing each time
 you lay in a stroke whether using a brush,
 pastel or stick of charcoal.
Drawing is the foundation of painting.
You often find warm, pink tones through the mid section of the face
in ears, cheeks and around nose. Often where shadow & light meet
is a warm glowy color, like down the bridge of nose.
Looking for cool tones in the shadows especially.
Not too much or it will look like a bruise.

I often see cool tones around the mouth, not usually IN the mouth,
as that tends to make your subject look oxygen deprived.
The inside of the mouth is almost always a WARM color.
Beginning to smooth the tiles of color together with pastel pencils.
 I don't use my finger due to all the oils in my hands. Tortillians or stumps seems to drag color around and muddy things up.
Pastel pencils are hard enough to blend without adding much color.
They work perfectly for blending. 
Adding more color after I smoothed the skintones
Cleaning up with a kneaded eraser and washing my hands often
in order not to muddy up colors.
Brightening up skin tones and continuing to smooth
I often use cool backgrounds to accentuate the warm flesh tones of skin.
I chose a medium dark value since her hair was so light
and I used dark at the bottom to make the sunlight in her hair show better.
(It was also one of my young student's suggestion. Thanks Meg!! )

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