It has been a good 40 years since I have seriously done art… not since my college days! In fact, I have quite gone the other direction in mostly having jobs that required a lot of administration and organization.
But part of my spiritual and personal journey has been learning to acknowledge all that God has made me and using all my gifts and interest to connect with Him. The area of art has been neglected, mostly because it hasn’t served a lot of “practical purpose.” Now that I am learning more about resting, I have found that art is one of the most relaxing and therapeutic things I can do. When I was a kid, I had no other career ambition than to be an artist. I guess I am returning back to my roots!
So back in March, I took up pastel painting.
I had done pastel pencil drawings back in high school but it was very limited and all hard pastel pencils. I had never used soft pastel pencils before. Encouraged by my husband, I picked up a set at the art store and got to work.
I am still going through tutorials in some books to figure out the different techniques of using pastels. Here are the two books I have been using:
The first painting I was pretty by the book and matched the colors and technique of the original artist, Jenny Keal. It took maybe 2.5 hours or so…
The original tutorial… (oops, a little yellow and dark. Colors are actually pretty similar to mine.)
The next one was a beach scene, also from the same artist. I changed up some of the colors though. (Also 2-3 hours.)
I’m not too crazy with how this one turned out. The original is below.
The third one was a valley scene based on a tutorial by Paul Hardy. I changed a lot of colors because the original had yellow hills and field and I am not a big fan of yellow, especially yellow flowers. I like spring flowers so I added those in for fun. (This one was super quick, maybe 2 hours.)
The last one I just finished yesterday and is in the style of Peter Coombes. He likes to use a lot of yellows, oranges, and rust colors. I don’t like those colors so mine is more blue/greens. Also he has a very rough style and even though I tried to imitate it, I couldn’t stand and all big gaps of paper and white spots showing through so in the end my art looked different. This one took longer, maybe 4 hours.
Original is quite a bit different than how mine turned out!
If you are interested in seeing the progress of how these paintings were made, here they are. The specific steps are found in the books.
First I started with a blank sheet of sanded paper (it’s like super fine grit sandpaper) and drew the big pieces very lightly. (So lightly you can’t even see anything!)
Drew in the sky, fields, blended with my hands.
Added the house.
Basically I worked from far away to close up, finishing with the specks of flowers in front.
The second painting started with large scribbles on the sky.
These were then blended in and the far away elements added.
First endeavor. I thought it looked really dark and foreboding. Glen’s comment on Facebook was that it looked apocalyptic and there were purple ants marching up the hill. Ha ha!
So I changed it. Still not happy with it though… lacks “oomph.”
Third painting I totally forgot to take any pictures until I already got this far!
Blended in the foreground field. It looked kind of empty so I added small flowers to frame the front.
The last one was most difficult because it required really broad, almost abstract strokes.
In fact, at the beginning the painting looked truly awful. I mean, really! Orange clouds? Brown and blue hills?
But all that was underpainting. Once the other colors were laid on top, the painting started taking form. I really liked how the distant hills were brought into more focus in front.
Sketched in some trees to add depth.
Built the trees up with more dark colors (looks like they are haunted).
Then added highlights on top. One thing I like about soft pastels is that they can even look like oil paints.
I had a truly awful time with water because I only have two blue colors, each of which have maybe one light and one dark shade as well. That’s not a whole lot to work with when you are doing water! As a result, it required a lot of blending, and, as Corrie pointed out, the flowers in the front looked blurry because there was just too much pastel on the paper. (The Facebook feedback I receive from friends is very helpful!)
I went in with some hard pastel pencil. Unfortunately I don’t have any pink! So I used red and white to sharpen them up and it looks a little better defined.
There are more tutorials to go through before I feel brave enough to branch out on my own and try new experiments. It sure is a lot of fun, though!