Sunday, August 17, 2008

Inorganic v. Organic

Every once in a while in painting, you stumble across a roadblock - OK, so it happens a lot. But solving these issues is what make your paintings stronger, and you as an artist more successful. If you can work out your own issues and then internalize them, you will find that the next time a similar issue comes up, you will be prepared.

In this painting of a flowerbox on a houseboat in Seattle, I found that I really wanted to emphasize the difference between the manmade house and the organic flowers. I thought that the best way to do this would be to make the window, the siding, and the flowerbox all have very distinct lines and edges (more on that later!), and keep the lobelia, lavender, and geraniums very impressionistic. Since most of my landscape painting is very loose (see for more of my work), I had to figure out how to make a hard, straight edge for the manmade elements.

In the end, I used a ruler, broke my pastels into pieces with sharp corners, and ran the pastel along the ruler. Without moving the ruler, I then used a finger to rub the pastel into the pumice (I use Gator Foam with pumice powder gesso) to create the hard edge. Repeat on the other side of the shape if necessary, and then fill in the middle as needed. The trick was figuring out the order in which to do the shapes, considering that while pastels are basically opaque, you can still see the undercolors through the more recent layers. Also, I have both very light and very dark values in the window. In the end, I think it worked. I especially like the little details in the window woodwork that can only be enjoyed when looking closely - a sort of reward for taking a second, closer look.

Window Garden 16 x 12 pastel on panel (2008)

Keep Painting!

Pastel Guy

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