Saturday, March 5, 2011

My "how to" pastel portrait.

 We had two models today. My model had clothing that reminded me of the new True Grit movie, but I couldn't get into painting the entire image. So I focused on what I know.  The other model had gypsy inspired clothing. I took photos of both of the models and I hope to paint them later this week.
pastel on 16 x 20 inch mounted wallis paper
I also wanted to share a very basic description about my process since a few asked at the session.
I start with vine charcoal and play with placement. It doesn't always work the first time, but I need to see it on the paper before I decide. Sometimes, like today, I sketched in a landscape format, didn't like it,  so turned to portrait and did that twice before I found something I wanted to continue. In my studio, I usually do thumbnails, but at these sessions I just go for it.
Then I start with soft pastels (Terry Ludwig's mostly) and block in large and small areas using three basic values. The rest of the time I spend measuring, tweaking, adding more color... I used a wet sponge on a nu pastel base for the background and used soft pastel for additional color. I have a heavy hand and don't blend too much. If I do it is with my pinky. I also do what I call a "picture walk" and step away from the painting every so often. What you think you see up close can look so different from a distance. 
We had a three hours session today. I spent about 2 hours of work time on this. I always find things I could tweak after I walk away for a while. If I could go back I would sharpen some of the eye structure,  highlights and define the shoulder on the right side of the image.


AutumnLeaves said...

A gorgeous model and beautiful resulting portrait, Maria. I like hearing about your methods too.

Jill Eudaly said...

how i envy the time you have to work. as my kids are getting older I am getting more time.
thanks for sharing your process. i may try it on the sketch book challenge..the theme this month is spilling over.

Sadami said...

Hi, Maria,
Nice work! Thank you for the info on pastel that is my unknown world. Very interesting.
Cheers, Sadami