Friday, March 28, 2008

Springfield Pastel Workshop - Thursday

The rain finally did arrive on Thursday, and it was torrential. All of us were happy to be in the studio and out of the raw weather. I'm sure the crocuses, which are just coming up in the Springfield Art Association's courtyard, enjoyed the weather.

I spent part of the morning discussing perspective. In Springfield, which has many wonderful structures in districts like "Old Aristocracy Hill" and in the four-block Lincoln Home National Historic Site, it's hard to escape the rigors of perspective. I've written elsewhere about this science, so I'll just say here that you don't need the books. It's helpful to know the rules, but it all comes down to close and careful observation of angle and proportion. Use a pencil to measure these.

At lunchtime, the group got an exclusive tour of the Edwards Place, which is attached to the Association's facilities. Built in 1833 and the only house in Springfield on its original foundation, it includes period furnishings and the famous "Lincoln Courting Couch," on which Lincoln courted Mary Todd. (My favorite feature of the house is the oval skylight over the central staircase. You can look through it and up into the tower. In the summers, the skylight's glass was removed, allowing the tower to serve as a sort of chimney, drawing up the sweltering Illinois air and cooling the house.) The house was donated in 1913 to the then-fledgling art association and became its quarters. Today, the association is nearing the completion of historic renovations.

Finally, by popular request, I demonstrated how to paint a tree. After choosing a photograph featuring an old adobe structure and some cottonwoods in autumn, I toned my paper with a red-violet pastel to create a complementary backdrop for the greens. I next sketched in the dark trunks and a few of the major branches of the cottonwoods with a dark magenta pastel. For the foliage, I picked out three greens: a cool, dark green; a warmer, mid-value green; and a very warm, light green. I laid in the shadowed areas first and then moved my way into the lights. This covered up some of the trunks, so I reworked those and added a few, sharp darks for more branches.

On Friday, I'll cover how to fix problems and finish paintings.

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