Friday, October 9, 2009

Vermont Pastel Society - Demonstration

"Ramah Lake" 12x18, pastel

Just before we headed home from Vermont last Sunday, I gave a demonstration to the Vermont Pastel Society at its annual meeting. Since my presentation on underpainting with a "grisaille" was such a hit at the IAPS convention last May, I decided to do it again, but with a different image. We had a great turnout.

Just to refresh your memory, a traditional grisaille is an oil underpainting done in monochrome, usually in shades of grey, over which are applied transparent glazes of color. The purpose is to establish the design and value first, and to then "color" the design with the glazes. Pastel, of course, is an opaque medium, so a pastel grisaille doesn't quite work in the usual way. Instead, the underpainting serves as a map for the color that is applied later. Whatever color of pastel you apply, it must closely match the value of the area it's being applied to. In order to keep the greys from mixing up with the color, I use alcohol applied with a brush to "fix" the greys in place.

For my demonstration, I used a photo of the "wedding cake" bluff that rises out of Ramah Lake in Ramah, New Mexico. I created a greyscale version of the photo in Photoshop and did my block-in by following it. Below are both photos. The painting is on Wallis paper, and I used both Polychromos, Mount Vision, Sennelier and Unison pastels. When I got home, I spent a couple of hours finishing the painting.


Donna T said...

Beautiful painting, Michael! I see that you simplified the foreground a lot - it sure lays there quietly like it should. I use a value-based underpainting too and will stop beating myself up for not being able to use watercolors for colorful underpaintings. I need my value map!

martha said...

very nice...wish I could have seen the demo,..I like this method and have used it for figurative works.