Monday, July 21, 2008

Watch my Dust!

I have been lately playing around with pastels --> literally solid sticks of (almost) pure pigment. I have rarely encountered a messier medium! You just have to pick one of these little pastels up and you are all blue -- or red or magenta or green -- all over. But the colors are really lush and the mark is nice and sketchy, if I can stop myself from blending, blending, and over-bending. I have a miscellaneous set of various very soft pastels and a full set of hard pastels. I like the soft pastels for the lushness and goopiness of the mark and the brilliancy of the color. But I like the hard pastels for the control. I took a few of the hard pastels out with me to the Palisades Farmers' Market on Sunday morning and sketched some fruit with them. I didn't really give them a good try because of the gnats. (Note to self: put insect repellent on, even if you're in town!)

The sequence for value is dark-to-light, for the most part, as it is with gouache. But not so strict. Another variable is paper! Paper color is one choice and another is paper texture. The hue and value of the underlying color seems to be a key element in pastels (as it is in gouache!) and the texture of the paper coating has to do with how many layers of color you are able to lay down. The coated papers are like very fine sandpaper and they accept a lot of layers. And you can buy light colored coated paper and color it yourself, any color (or combination of colors) you want, with watercolor or acrylic washes.

So much new stuff to try and so many variables. And sooooo much more money to spend!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Figure Class

Yesterday was the first session of my 7-week Figure Drawing in Varied Media class at the Art League. It's three hours every Saturday morning, led by Priscilla Treacy. It's a fairly large class, as these classes go, so I'm not sure how much individualized attention each of us will get. But oh well, I'll make sure that it will be fun.

What luxury to:
-- Have a model that will hold still! So much better than my usual "models" on Metro.
-- Get all messy with charcoal! This stuff called Char-Kole is the greatest! As black and as heavy and as creamy as you could ask. Neat stuff. (I definitely need to bring hand wipes next week.)

Eventually we are going to paint on paper with a technique called "peinture a l'essence" (used by Toulouse-Lautrec and Eddie Degas), which appears to be regular oil paint that has had the oil leached out of it by letting it sit on absorbent paper for a while. We'll use turpentine to dilute and apply it. It sounds stinky and awful to me and I wonder, if the 'requirement' is that we have to use paper as the support in this class, why we don't just use gouache. No muss no fuss. No turpentine! Maybe I'll be a pest and ask her.