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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

Todd is known as the Paper Crane Guy. He folds menageries of origami, in a variety of colors and sizes (checkout his website). He also happens to have red hair! He kindly agreed to model for me for the red-head portrait project.

We were able to meet while he worked folding origami flowers. I enjoyed watching him at work and was able to observe his amazing skill at folding. The camera was set up as he worked and I was able to take some photos of Todd while he folded and I sketched: the artist observing the artist.

Back at the studio, I decided on a square format on UArt paper, no underpainting. See how the image emerges? Now, to finish the painting...... .

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

Underpainting a paper for a pastel painting is always an adventure unto itself - you never know what the dried underpainting will look like until it's dry. The underpainting for "Alison" was more concerned about light and dark than color, so the dried paper looked as I had hoped. Ugly, but accurate. Visitors to the studio who see a work at this stage are usually at a loss for words! I usually assure them that it's just an awkward stage.

Then it's time to apply pastel and bring out the image in full color! One of the most exciting parts of painting a portrait for me is watching the person emerge from the flat surface of the paper. The image gradually comes into focus, and suddenly there's someone there!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

One of the first pastel papers to offer a waterproof and gritty surface was invented by a pastel artist named Kitty Wallis. The paper she now makes is called Wallis Paper, and it comes in a grey color and white. I started a red-head on the white version of this paper, with a toned underpainting. While designing the portrait, I had decided on a dark background, to show off her translucent skin. Toning the paper covers the the harshness of the white surface while allowing me to leave it lighter in places to allow to radiate through the skin. To tone the paper I covered it in pastel, dark where I wanted dark, and lighter where I wanted it lighter. I taped the paper to a firm surface and then brushed the entire surface with rubbing alcohol and a cheap brush (the sanded surface really eats the brush bristles). The paper is allowed to dry and is ready to be worked on.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

Paper selection is an important step in the planning and design of a pastel painting. Pastel painting is unique in that there is such a variety of papers that can be used to create the paintings. Each of these surfaces have a texture, or "tooth", that the pastel pigment particles adhere to. Some are smoother than others, some are very gritty, much like sandpaper. I tend to enjoy working on the grittier papers, as those papers hold many more layers of pigment and offer me more options for creating the color and mood I am trying to create. The papers also come in a variety of colors, from white to neutral tints to bold and bright. For portraits, I tend to work mostly on a gritty but fine-toothed paper in a neutral tint, UArt 600.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Time out for camp!

Painting red-heads for the exhibit had been the focus of my painting recently. But it was time for winter camp! Winter camp is a plein air painting event that's part of the Grand Marais Winter Festival. Artists gathered at a wilderness camp, not accessible by road, and painted, outside, for up to a week. We hauled our camping and painting gear across frozen West Bearskin Lake to beautiful Camp Menogyn. Once our stuff was stowed in our cabin, out to paint we went! Happy for us, there was plenty of snow for our paintings. And so much beauty and quiet. Camp has been one of the highlights of my winters for three years now.

Outside? All day? Painting? Yes, until, of course, the bell rang announcing a meal was prepared for us and ready to be served. It always amazes me how much time can be spent outside, no matter the weather, and how enjoyable it can be. I even painted outside one evening. This year the temperatures were very mild, with overcast skies. I didn't even have to wear gloves while holding the pastel sticks.

At the end of each day it is such a pleasure to see the finished paintings of the other artists. We line the paintings along a wall and spend time admiring each other's work. On the last day we frame our favorites, take them into Grand Marais, and participate in an exhibit. The opening reception to the event was well attended. One of my paintings was purchased, and I bought a painting!

The exhibit and sale continues through Feb 12 at the Grand Marais Art Colony.