Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Working with Changing Light

Red Rock I, 5x7, pastel - contact Michael

Red Rock II, 5x7, pastel - contact Michael

Monet was famous for toting out to his painting spot several large canvases at once. Each canvas had been started under different weather or lighting conditions. When the full-sun, blue-sky moment came, he'd pull out the full-sun, blue-sky canvas and work on that a little while. When the moment changed to a partly-cloudy, hazy-sky one, he'd pull out the partly-cloudy, hazy-sky canvas and work on that.

The method was all right for Monet, who had a retinue of children following him. (I've heard different stories, some saying these were his own children, others that they were kids from the neighborhood. Lucky kids.) But I like a solitary adventure and prefer to keep things simpler. When I'm expecting variable conditions, I'll work on a succession of small pieces, completing each in turn before starting another. I can work pretty fast in pastel. I only need ten minutes or so when sketching a 5x7.

We are certainly having variable conditions this week. The jet stream has finally returned, slicing south and bringing a series of storms. Last night's rain ended around dawn, but we had some beautiful clouds for awhile, and then, suddenly, blue sky. I did two quick, 5x7 pastel sketches to capture the change. They are in order above. About ten minutes separates them.

For these, I worked directly are on white Wallis sanded paper, using a foam brush to cover the white with pastel during the block-in before finishing. I used both Polychromos and Mount Vision pastels.

Later this week, we're expecting snow! I can't wait to capture a snow scene.

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