Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Springfield Pastel Workshop - Tuesday

I've been taking early morning walks to clear my mind before teaching. It also gives me a chance to eye the weather for the day. Tuesday morning I was glad I had a good, windproof spring coat -- the wind blew as briskly as it can on Campobello Island! There was no plein air painting on Tuesday.

It didn't matter, though, as we had plenty of work to do indoors. I went over John Carlson's observations on value in the landscape, and I reiterated the importance of minimizing value shifts within masses. To illustrate, I painted a demonstration based on a photo of El Morro National Monument in New Mexico.

Here's the value sketch I made. You'll note that I used only three values: dark, light and a mid-value. Carlson writes about breaking up the landscape into four values. But because the hard pastels I use for underpainting don't have an extensive value range, it's sometimes difficult to find four pastels with enough separation in value to indicate clearly that masses are of different values. Three values work fine, just so long as you later expand the range with softer pastels, which typically have lighter lights and darker darks.

Here's the complete "working palette" of pastels that I used for the painting. Rather than put the pastels back into their proper spots in the box after using them, I placed them in a small plastic lid so I could find them again quickly if needed.

Here is the almost-finished painting with the reference photo beside it. The students remarked on how dull the photo is. To compensate, I used rich, vivid color right off the bat for my underpainting. In the later stages of painting, I adjusted the color to make it more realistic.

Finally, here's the finished piece. As you can see, I gradually worked in a few more values to expand the range. Still, the design remained strong, thanks to the practice of minimizing shifts in value within the masses.

Later in the day, I talked a bit about color thumbnails and did a mini-demonstration to show their usefulness.

On Wednesday, we'll dive head-first into expressive color. In the evening, I have a book signing at the Springfield Art Association, where I'll be reading from Through a Painter's Brush and the upcoming book, Backpacker Painting.

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