Awarded first place, Section A for Experienced Artists at Berwick Artists Society monthly meeting for July 2012
This pastel painting on archival pastel paper is based on a photo shoot in my studio. I have already done one pastel from these photos but decided that I would try my samples of Daniel Smith water colours for the underpainting. My goal was to prove that you don’t have to go far to get great material for an artwork and to have a go at the underpainting technique which I haven’t done very much of. The fruit was not very fresh so the grapes were even more interesting as they had started to crinkle and were not the plump little orbs they started out as. The surface was the board I have protecting my light table, which is covered in scratches and blobs and lines of paint so in this case I didn’t include them and kept the background light and very simple, even allowing the pastel paper to show through towards the edges.
I chose some creamy/faun Canson paper to work on. I like the pastel papers with good “tooth” because they hold so much pastel. I can do a lot of layers with nothing falling off the surface.
I didn’t do any grids or the usual marking up of a page for this work as I have done in the past. I wanted to draw in with observation only, taking note of how much of the area the objects were taking up and getting everything onto the the paper by eye and taking notice of the negative space around the subject. After this the blocking in with paint began. This gave me an instant dark and shadow area and the depth gained later without too much work was very nice.
If you lay down the pastel pencil gently and plan your work, colours that you would not think of readily can be used in the first stages of blocking in. Complementary colours underneath the final ones can create interesting finishes. You just need to remember not to panic and realise that your painting is going to go through an ugly stage where you think of throwing it out or wonder if those combinations of colours can “REALLY” work. My suggestion is first – not panic, second – take a breath and a break if you need to and finally to just persevere. It is just paper and pastel, not life and death.
I try to remember that I really do know what I am doing and that if I take my time and really think about my next step then let go, it usually all comes together in the end. If after all that it hasn’t worked to my satisfaction then I try to glean a lesson from it so I can do better next time. Given that though, it was good to get past the ugly stage – again, with this painting and finish it off successfully. Standing back and checking on the computer and in the studio (as I do all through an artwork) to do that final check is very satisfying. The end result is a little still life that I am very happy to display and offer for sale.
Enquiries can be made through the contact page in my website at: http://www.janicemills.net or email me directly to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
VISA, EFTPOS, MasterCard and Paypal are accepted and as pastels travel so well I am happy to accept an overseas order for this artwork.
Dimensions: 30 cm (width) × 22 cm (height) approx
Credit: Original photography by Janice Mills