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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

When faced with a major project the question is, "Where do I start?" No different with a painting project! The idea of painting red-heads had been brewing in me for a long time, so I had a collection of photos of possible subjects. First step was to look through those, compare them to my ideas, and plan that first painting.

Before I start any painting, I spend time designing it. The first painting was created from a photo taken outdoors, candidly, so I didn't need to pose the model. The photo already included what I was looking for from this person (freckles!!!). Design considerations for each portrait include: How large will the piece be? Will it include more that the person's head and shoulders? What kind of background, plain or detailed? What colors in the background? How am I going to portray the feeling I want? I do a series of sketches trying out the different ideas before committing any pastel to paper.

I hope you feel how she hasn't quite grown into her beauty yet.

12 in x 16 in

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

When viewing my paintings people often ask what the medium is: clearly not watercolors, but not oils either. Viewers are frequently surprised to learn I create the paintings with pastels.

Pastels are sticks of compressed pigment, the same pigment that is used in watercolor or oil paints. Pastels are made by mixing the powdered pigment with a small amount of binder and water. They are then formed into sticks, and allowed to dry. Many companies roll and shape the sticks by hand, making the pastel a work of an artist from the beginning! The resulting pastel is the used to "paint," but without the liquid or brush, just by direct application with the artist's hand.

Pastels' colors are often thought to be, well, pastel. The 20 or so manufacturers of artist grade pastels offer many hundreds of colors, ranging from bold and brilliant to soft and subtle. I have hundreds of colors myself, plenty of options for capturing beautiful red hair! The sticks are organized in special trays. Smaller boxes contain colors selected just for specific painting uses: a box each for summer, autumn, and winter landscapes, and a box for portraits. This is my portrait box. It's from these sticks that the red-head portraits will be created.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

My father had red hair, I am told. By the time I was old enough to really notice him, he was mostly bald and grey. Photographs were not in color until his hair was well peppered, and there were few photos of him. So, to do his portrait as a red head for my exhibit, I will be using a favorite photo I have of him. I'm not sure who took the photo - if it's one of the self-portrait shots he took, or whether my mother or a friend of his took it so long ago. It is very grainy and with limited information. I do see that he is wearing a signature plaid shirt. (I'm sure it's orange!) Creating a painting in color will be a challenge!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

My father had red hair, so I thought I had a good chance of having red-haired children. Two blue-eyed blondes and a blue-eyed brunette were my little blessings. Red-heads continued to intrigue me, though.

For a long time I felt an urge to celebrate these beauties in paintings, but I felt I lacked the skill to pull it off. I took portrait classes from some of the best pastel portrait artists in the country - Daniel Green and Leslie DeMille. I practiced, went to "life" class, and practiced some more. Finally, I felt ready to pursue this aspiration!