Friday, April 17, 2009

Diana’s Companion

7" x 5"
Soft Pastels on Suede Matboard

People have been asking me lately about my process. Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy answer because I don't have a set approach to painting. I may do things differently based on subject, size, purpose of the painting, my mood, whatever. I decided to turn this Different Strokes challenge into a WIP, so those people who are interested could see one of my methods for tackling a painting.

Unless my painting has to be perfect, I prefer to skip measuring. It makes things tedious and takes the fun out of it. For this particular subject, I’m not concerned with perfection. Close is good enough, because no one will likely know if it isn’t perfect. Which means I’m not measuring (hooray!).

Step 1: I cut a 7” x 5” piece of suede matboard and tape it to a piece of cardboard. I then crop and print the reference photo to the same size, taping it next to the board. This will allow me to check size, values, and shapes, and is particularly useful to check accuracy when standing five or six feet back.

Next, I pick out pastels in a light, medium, and dark value. Not the lightest light, or darkest dark, of course – that’s like dessert for me, so I save it for later. I use the light pastel, making marks where the lights are in the ref photo, then do the same with the middle and then the dark values. Now I have a basic sketch.



Step 2: Obviously, I’m going to be using some pastel pencils with this piece. Her face is only ½” big. There’s no way I’ll get enough detail with these fat pastels. Using a gray pastel pencil, I define the figures.



Step 3: Going back with the pastels again, I work on the values.



Step 4: I alternate between pastel pencils and pastels, refining the drawing.


With the finished painting next to the ref photo, it’s very obvious where I’m off. But since no one is going to see the ref photo next to the painting in real life, I think it’s close enough.

Here is the finished piece again, larger. Lots of fun, and no tedious measuring. My favorite way to paint!

16 comments:

Sheila said...

Okay... first my eyes popped out because this awesome pastel painting, then I pulled out my hair because I need to start, so if you see a googled eye bald woman running down your street, please ignore her...

Mona said...

Kari, it's a lovely piece. I especially like that unique shade of blue you used in the background, and thanks so much for sharing a step-by-step of your process.

I recall at one point that you mentioned 'glazing' with pastel. Can you share what you mean by 'glazing' in pastel terms, since I know what it means in painting, but not how it's done with pastels (or maybe I'm doing it, and I just don't realize it!)

dominique eichi said...

Very nice pastel piece , I love the color chosen .

Mark Bridges said...

Your drawing is nice, like a Bargue piece.

Edward Burton said...

Very beautiful, Kari. Thank you for sharing your process - I really liked seeing it develop.

Mel said...

This is wonderful! For some reason I especially love the softness of the cast shadow. I've never gotten the hang out pastels and I always admire those who use them.

Ann Rogers said...

Lovely work, and thanks for sharing your process in such informative photos. It's always interesting to see how other artists get from points A to Z!

Kari Tirrell said...

Thanks, Sheila - save your hair, you still have over a week!

Thank you, Mona - I'll email you the info on glazing (I haven't been doing pastels for very long, so I don't know if that's the right thing to call it!) because it will be too long an explanation for here. If anyone else is interested, I can always make a post about it.

Thank you, Dominique, Mark, Edward, Mel & Ann! I appreciate all the nice comments. :)

Vern Schwarz said...

Kari, awesome job on this. Thanks for the blow by blow, I find it very interesting to see how others develop their paintings.

Kari Tirrell said...

Thanks, Vern!

L.Holm said...

Fabulous!!! I love seeing your process. Lovely work!

Kari Tirrell said...

Thank you, Liz, I appreciate it!

Pat Burns said...

Beautiful, Kari! Thanks for sharing the process... and all this time I thought you just wiggled your nose and they appeared.

Kari Tirrell said...

Are you calling me a witch? ;) Thanks, Pat!

Colette Theriault said...

Wow, your work is very nice and I enjoyed looking at your gallery of pastels. Glad we found each other. Would you like to exchange blog links?
Colette

Kari Tirrell said...

Thanks, Colette. I enjoyed your blog as well. Happy to exchange links. :)