Tuesday, January 27, 2015

It's so Messy!

That's the remark I hear often by those who've tried pastel.   And yes, to an extent, it IS messy--is that so bad?   I looked like I rolled in it when I first started, but have since learned to contain it a bit more.   Here's just a couple ideas of how...
Here is how I keep from smearing areas I've already worked on.   Simple old tracing paper.  I use low tack tape, and cover the area with the tracing paper.   Newsprint or other opaque papers bother me as I cannot see what I've done, therefore cannot adjust my values, etc. on the new area.  
My cane hooked over the drawing board, on the easel.

Second tip is my handy dandy cane.  Bought from a flea market, I hook it on the top of my drawing board, and it works like a maul stick, but better.    I can get to an area without taking the chance of smudging.     I also put a rubber tip on the end. 
Anybody guess what this tip is/was?

I use the cane for small areas, and the tracing paper when I need to just leave it a while, as in the portrait I was working on--it was going to take a while to complete the man's face.   But in this small landscape, I just wanted to add some highlights, so the cane was quick and simple. 
  It'd be more fun to have a cane from a loved one, but since I didn't, I imagine this was from a sweet old grandfatherly type.   I know, kinda odd, but its my little world and if I want a happy cane, so be it!  haha!

For keeping myself cleaner, I usually wear an apron, and keep baby wipes or damp rag nearby for wiping fingers.  I do not like having my pastels dirty, it makes choosing more difficult as I cannot see the real color.   I don't much like gloves, but occasionally wear finger cots.    Other than these things, I just don't worry about it!  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lessons from Harvey

Recently I went with a few art friends to the Harvey Dunn exhibit at the Brookings museum.     It was the largest gathering of his works in one showing.  And what a showing it was!   117 pieces all together.

We were all wide eyed at his various styles, almost looked like 3 different artists.  We marveled at his use of color and line.   Some pieces are very large and some were small, some paintings some simple sketches still with the spiral "feathers" attached.   All were amazing.

After we gawked for a couple hours, we went to lunch then headed back for another round.   Its this second time around we really started dissecting the works, why did they work?   We noticed on many of the paintings with figures, the hands were huge!  Very disproportionate to the rest of the figure.   Yet, the painting held together just fine.

Elements such as cows were going right off the canvas, out the corners?!  Distant hills were brilliant blues instead of muted, and fences 'closing off' the viewer.   Closer images were fuzzy and often just blobs, while a figure in the distance was much more tightly rendered and bright.   Much of what, at a distance, appeared tightly detailed was actually barely more than dollops of color.  And he often tossed in a very strong hue in very odd places.

As we looked and talked, we discovered, Harvey Dunn broke allll the rules!  *Gasp*!   Yet, his works, work!   Why?, we asked each other.  

Because instead of worrying about the "rules", Harvey just painted.  He got his point across the way he felt like doing.   His works are alive with emotion.   That's why they work.   They aren't dead robot-works full of perfection.  He seems more concerned with how you *feel* in looking at his works rather than if the rules are all in tact.  A lesson among many we all took home that day.   Well done Harvey, Well done.
The Prairie is My Garden, by Harvey Dunn

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Better Way to Use Photos.

Ah, the old days...taking a ton of photos, losing the film, finding it again, and finally getting it developed, only to wonder, "why on earth did I take this photo?"

It does help now that digital cameras can be had for a pretty fair price, and no more waiting for your prints to come back.   I take many more photos now that developing isn't an issue.

But I still found myself looking thru the file confused at what I seen when I was there, why did I bother taking a snapshot? 

In Richard Schmid's book Alla Prima, he addresses this issue and I find his advice very useful.   Take the photo if you must, if painting directly from life isn't possible, but paint it as soon as possible!      Its been barely in the double digits temp-wise, so yeah, I'm not sitting outside painting.   Maybe I'm a whimp.   Maybe I'm just smart.  yeah, I'll go with that one!  

I do find that bringing in a photo, putting it up on my laptop screen and working right away brings in the freshness that a stale photo can lose.   Sometimes its not possible, true, but I am trying to do it more often, and I find it more fun to work this way.   

Krista's Gift   15x25 pastel on sanded paper.  Private collection
This painting was a commission, and I sat on this hillside with the client for quite a long time, watching the light change.   We talked and had some good laughs, enjoying the view.  Isn't it fabulous?   When I got home to start work on this, all those feelings, smells, and sounds were right there again, as I took the time to observe then didn't waste time getting to the painting.   Pure joy.  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

ITS 2015!!!

Are you all sleeping in?  with critters, that is something that doesn't happen.   Kind of a trade off, you get to have the milk, ride the horse, gather the eggs, but you have to do so timely, daily, no matter what.  I think its a pretty fair trade tho.!

I did not party as I did days past, I didn't even have anyone over.   In fact, my midnight kiss wasn't even offered with much enthusiasm as he was chewing on a rawhide.   Some date.
My New Year's Eve date.

I did do what has become my normal Eve event--clean and oil my easel, then paint.   Somehow this is a very soothing thing for me, like a promise to myself to honor my art spirit.   I love the smells of the murphy's soap and the lemon oil, and the fresh start on day one of the new year.

For my last piece of 2014, I chose a scene I've had stored on my camera card a few months now, and it wasn't so much about painting the place, but about the color.   I was riding my horse Copper, heading home and it was getting cold and some weather was setting in.   I only use a smaller point-n-shoot camera as its easy to tote, and the photos aren't so perfect, leaving me room to add my own voice. 

Lucas Farm House, 10x15 pastel, copyright CM Cernetisch   $165.
This is 10x15 on a piece of Wallis Belgium Mist I found last week when repainting the frame room.    the warm grey color felt right for this idea.   I also worked quite a bit without the photo at all, once I had the block in done.  Then I returned the the photo, on my laptop, for finishing details.  That is a really fun way to work.  

So that concludes this year of art, horses and farmlife.  Stay tuned for scenes from the upcoming year!