Monday, February 20, 2012

Lace Lake II

"Lace Lake II"
Pastel on pastel paper mounted to gatorboard, 16 x 20 inches
copyright 2012 MaryAnn Cleary

This is another attempt at doing a pastel from an oil painting study that I did on site last fall. The original oil painting that I did I used a very limited palette in oil - ultramarine blue, transparent red, yellow ochre and titanium white. That painting is below and it is 11 x 14 inches.
"Lace Lake"
oil on linen, 11 x 14 inch

I also tried doing a pastel on an unfamiliar paper of the same scene called "Misty Afternoon". With that pastel, I used a very dark toned paper that would not hold much pastel pigment. The results are ok.

The day that I did the painting, the fog along Lake Superior made visibility nil. I headed up the mountain on the Gunflint Trail to the Trail Center to visit my friend, Sarah, and to do some painting. Lace Lake is a mile or so just before the Trail Center. The fog that day still clung to the mountains with a slight mist falling even though Lake Superior was many miles away.

Pastels are nice, but that day if I used them, the results would have been disastrous. Pastels and water make for spotted paintings and do not mix. 

On the pastel above, I mounted UArt sanded paper, 800 grit, to gatorboard. I am finding that the grit of the 800 paper is a bit too fine for me. I prefer a 400 or 600. The paper is light in color so I used a watercolor wash to block in my shapes. This helps with getting the basic design onto the canvas. It also allows one to use less pastel so that the paper does not fill so quickly with pastel allowing for more pastel layers.
watercolor underpainting for pastel

In the future, I hope to do more plein air or outdoor painting studies in oil to bring back to the studio to use for reference along with a few photos displayed on a computer monitor. However, the above painting, I only used the reference oil study. The original painting study helps bring back the feelings and essence for choosing the painting site. The mind remembers what is important and helps eliminate the unnecessary detail. 

When painting on location, it is so easy to get hung up on the little stuff and forget the real reason why you chose the location or subject. I am still learning that most of the time putting less into a painting is definitely more. By just suggesting what is there, the mind fills in the rest. I am finding that this is one of the most difficult parts of painting for me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


pastel on paper, 9x11 inches, unframed

This is a third in a test of different pastel papers. This one is a Colorfix Suede in a light blue. The light blue that is seen in the pastel painting above is actually the actual suede-type paper.

  • This is the third pastel paper that I am testing out of a sample package of twelve sample-size papers. Each is approximately 9x12 inches. There is an assortment of colors, types and shades of paper.
  • My hope is to take each paper and produce a piece of artwork using it and then provide feedback on each paper. 
  • Art Spectrum Colorfix Suede (light blue). Remember those old velvet paintings done on suede, well, this paper is like working on a very short-textured velvet. Soft. Smears and blends really easily, but the colors seem to sink into the paper and disappear when blended. It does make for some nice, soft edges. It is okay as a paper goes, but I do not see myself using it again.
  • Paper Qualities.
    • The paper is very light blue with a suede-like, soft texture.
    • I did not use a light watercolor wash or any undercolor. I just sketched in the basic compositional sketch.
    • The surface is very smooth and soft. There is not much there for the pastel to grab onto, but it does seem to get the job done. I suppose it would be good for those who like to blend. I did use one of the blending stumps, a paper towel and finally my fingers. Fingers worked best for blending. I do not really like to use them, but in this case I just could not find anything else that worked as well.
    • Fill qualities: So-so. It is suede after all.
    • Blending: I tried a cotton rag (t-shirt material) and a tortillon blending stick. When blending with the rag, I would use short strokes in areas that I wanted to soften the pastel. The blending stick would great and I used it quite a bit.However, the best tool I found were my fingertips!!
    • Fixative: Did not use.
SUMMARY....or just my experience and opinion:
  • This paper gets a 3 of a scale of 1 to 5. It is just not something the fits my needs. Too soft. I would like to try it in different colors. Blue is not a color that I normally would choose for a background color. This paper might work nice for a portrait. I may try it again, but I hope to use a different base color.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Mighty in White

"Mighty in White"
6x6 inch, oil on linen
Daily Paintworks Challenge

This is my interpretation of this week's Daily Paintworks challenge. I had to stop before I just scraped the entire thing right off.... Fun and challenging.

garden paintings flowers paintings sunflower paintings

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Batman on Wheels

"Batman on Wheels"
8x6 inch, oil on linen panel, unframed
This is a small study for a larger painting that I plan on doing. It fits the Challenge for this weeks Daily Paintworks challenge, too. It is done in oil on linen...pretty loose and suggestive.

The pastel paper project is still going on. However, with that light toned blue paper, I feel like I have hit the wall. Tomorrow I hope to start a pastel on it to test how pastel works with it. It is Colorfix Suede...the surface reminds me of those crazy velvet paintings. Maybe that is why I seem to be having such a time getting started with doing something with it.