Friday, August 28, 2009


About 8"x10" on Hahnemühle velour with keeeewel spiral patterned rice paper glued (using clear Colourfix primer as the "glue") to the lower 2/3 of the sheet. On top of the velour.

100% panspastels. No fixative. And no Focal Point.



Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pastels --> color charts online

•-- Schmincke (pdf)
•-- Diane Townsend Terrages / Thin Line / Soft Color
•-- Terry Ludwig
•-- Great American Earth / Grey / Unique / Chromatics
•-- Mount Vision
•-- Unison (pdf)
•-- Sennelier (pdf)
•-- Henri Roche (pdf)
 --- Bonus! Nice little article on Roche pastels.
•-- Girault
•-- Panpastels
•-- Holbein (pdf)
•-- Art Spectrum

Recycling Pastel Chips: Rolling Your Own from Dusty Fingers, "B Boylan".

Friday, August 21, 2009


This is 9" x 12" on PastelMat paper, in the "Sand" color. I used about 75% panpastels and 25% my new Mount Vision Thunderstorm Greys set, which is way cool. And I also used one very scratchy, very impasto, very lush DT Thin Line white stick, for the hard cloud edges.

I am not too sure about the way the clouds overlap, lower to higher --- I think it's the other way around --- but what the heck.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blue Tablecloth

This is 9" x 12" on reverse beveled foamboard. I glued down some cut-open bouquet garni bags and then sealed the whole surface (including down the bevels all the way to the edges) with clear Colourfix primer.

The gouache underpanting is below on the left and a work-in-progress pic is on the right.

-- Is it too unbalanced with the underneath of the table on the lower left and nothing to balance that weight on the right?
-- Would another pear, lying on its side, partially behind the right-most pear do the job?
-- Or does the busy texture of the cheesecloth on the upper right balance it enough?
-- Or should I just give up the bevels and crop it?
-- The pans don't seem to do well on the cheesecloth. The pastels sticks, on the other hand, do wonderfully. This needed one very thick spray of SpectraFix in order to move forward with pans. Is there a better primer mixture that I can use to prime the cheesecloth? Or should I just stick with the sticks.
-- Does this need a rear (back) edge for the table, a "line" where the tabletop turns into the back wall? Or is there enough depth as it is?

Framed, below:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lava-flow of Clichés

This is just a scribble test sketch on the new (to me) PastelMat paper from Clairefontaine, the fancy dancy Euro paper manufacturer, paper color "dark gray". It is like shaved-down velour paper. Interesting, but I think I will survive it.

"Clairefontaine's fine art paper is manufactured at the Schut paper mill in the Netherlands. Est. 1618."
I like that part, though this stuff is no doubt subcontracted out somewhere else. Like maybe, Arkansas.

I like the way the paper works with the pans. It also seems to take the water and alcohol washes just fine. Needs to be glued to board. We'll see!

BONUS musical Quote: The late critic and music scholar Michael Steinberg, "dismissing" Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No 3 in 1964, in the Boston Globe as "a lava-flow of clichés." Whoa. More on Steinberg.
Here is the full review. Ravishingly excellent.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Butte with Cheesecloth, rev.

This is 9" x 12" on one of my new "reverse beveled" supports, this one the archival foamboard*. There is a rectangle of cheesecloth glued in the center and I do like that look a lot. Why? I don't know. I think because it is distracting.

(* Foamboard support is a little bit on the flimsy side -- plus it bends too easily. Even though it's thicker than the beveled illustration board, I am not too sure about it. Feels cheesey.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shhh . . . .

BONUS oenological Quote: "Wine is sunlight, held together by water." Galileo Galilei
BONUS oenological Video: Bottle Shock trailer

Monday, August 10, 2009

Łigaii Tó

This is a view of Lava Falls taken in 1872 during the Second Powell Expedition. Lava Falls usually drops about 13 feet in about 1,000 feet of river today. I wonder what is was like in 1872.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Hand to mouth

This message was recently posted in one of the forums that I look at: " . . so tell me what y'all do or get or whatever with your sketches. :D ~Kirby"

What I do.
Kirby, I sketch for two reasons. First, I sketch because I just enjoy the heck out of it. It's fun. My everyday sketching has no direct or immediate bearing on my pastel paintings. Except that I think sketching is sharpening my eye and helping me to see the world around me more clearly.

Second, when working plein air, I use the sketch phase to slow down and work out the composition. I have discovered that I get too excited. If I just plunge right in and start painting when I am working plein air, I inevitably end up with a lame composition. I find it's MUCH better to devote time to playing with different viewpoints, to working out the composition (and the value pattern) in the sketchbook FIRST. It's time well spent for me. Besides, the fun for me is being out there and seeing and messing around. Plus sketching to find the best composition is a good visual warm-up exercise.

What someone else does. NOW, here is an opposing strategem from a "professional artist" named Robert Genn, who does NOT sketch. His time spent in sketching is time taken away from cranking out paintings that he can sell. Or as he puts it, his decision not to sketch is " . . . somewhat a commercial decision--my effort goes directly to an eventually more collectable [sic] item. . ." He then goes on to justify it with some "artistic considerations" as well.

As you can see from the comments below his posting, rare is the respondent who agrees with him. It's an interesting discussion happening down there.

The distinction between us. The more I listen to these kinds of conversations and follow these kinds of discussions, the more I suspect that there are (very roughly) two kinds of artists. The first group are those that do it for the sheer fun of it. For them, the finished product isn't the point; the process is what is engaging. Those in this group can sometimes can get so caught up in their projects and their processes that they can, quite blithely, turn out mounds of total crap. The dark side of this artist is that he isn't all that interested in acquiring "technical prowess", as measured by standards outside himself.

The other kind of artist is the one that does it in order to produce a painting. (Or a sculpture, or a ceramic pot or a drawing or whatever.) These aren't necessarily always the pros, the crank-it-out folks (like Mr. Robert Genn) who have to sell their work to eat. The amateur version of this artist spends a lot of time talking about 'talent', often as a lament or a complaint. They're delighted when folks say "Wow, our drawing looks just like a photograph!". They are thin skinned and take a critique poorly. They get frustrated and seem not to enjoy the process of creating. It's a wrestling match. Big struggle.

The pro version of this artist, on the other hand, has objective specs and a tried-and-true, repeatable, and efficient manufacturing process that works for him.

For both of these -- what they have in common -- is that their happiness and pride are tied up with their output, their result. Is it "good"? What do other people think of it? Will it sell?

Enough. Personally, I am tickled to be churning out mounds and mounds of crap. Screw "good".

Friday, August 7, 2009

'Ain Ghazal Speaks

She (?) is Jordanian, about three and a half feet tall and is about 8,500 years old.

From Preserving Ancient Statues from Jordan at the Sakler in 1997.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Either side of the border

This Ed Degas painting here is an excellent piece to study to see the effects of hard and soft ("lost" and "found") edges. The black shape that Degas has merged right into the ballet master's body there in the middle foreground? What is it? Those are the scrolls at the the top of two cellos or double bass viols! Where do those scrolls end and where does the ballet master's body begin? Well, there you are! The picture engages me too.

Advice from Donna A: "Look for the various PLANES on the different parts of the subject. Notice where the LIGHT is "strong" and where SHADOWS are "strong". Pay attention to the HARD, MEDIUM, and SOFT edges. // Look for the WARMS AND COOLS within any given HUE. // Don't let things get picky/fussy --- but instead look for making or keeping INTERESTING VARIATIONS. Pay attention to not only what is happening within any of the objects but also look at what is happening on EITHER SIDE OF THE BORDER everywhere within the painting. // --- and then just keep looking at the painting over all and what it needs to make it striking."

(The Rehearsal of the Ballet Onstage, Ed Degas (c. 1874) in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC)

BONUS Word-of-the-Day: Entropy, n. from the Greek εντροπία "a turning towards" (εν- "in" + τροπή "a turning") a thermodynamic quantity representing the amount of energy in a system that is no longer available for doing mechanical work; "entropy increases as matter and energy in the universe degrade to an ultimate state of inert uniformity". Wake up in the morning = inert uniformity. Gaak.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I Fichi Sfocata

Figs on Hahnemühle Premium Velour Paper. Jury's out. Discuss.

BONUS Pic, as long as we are into *fruit*: The world's most gigantic blackberries. What? Is this an odd year or what? The tomatoes are (supposedly) not good this summer but the blackberries are the size of Volkswagen vans? Whazzup?

Bonus PIC, as long as we are talking *Volkswagen vans*: This is entitled Deluxe Samba Pulling Bambi a wonderful little beaded sculpture by Carol Sarkisian. I saw it in the show “Chopped Chromed Customized” at the Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, a few years ago. Keen! Most keen! Bambi!