I love working pastel on dark paper for one important reason: the pastel being lighter than the paper directly creates a pure colored light.
The paper is dark brown Canson, 19 x 26″.
You can start with any color you like, but it is important that the tone of the pastel is only one notch lighter than the paper–just enough so that you can see your marks. The blue outlines here are Prussian Blue, one of the darker blues
Warmer or Cooler
In this image, I am beginning to block out the entire paper. The background walls, in reality, are white and the floor is a wood floor. When I work with pastel, one of the things I ask myself is whether the color is warmer or cooler. The white of the wall is cool and the orange of the floor is warm. Then taking a cool dark color, almost any kind of blue or green, which is one step lighter than the paper, I blocked out the background wall. Then, with the same idea, yet with a warm color, a dark burnt orange, I did the floor, her body, and the shadow of the cloth.
One big problem that artists face when developing light and shadow in a work is that they tend to have the exact same darks and lights scattered around the surface. The result is that it kills the life out of the drawing!
A great way to solve that problem is to celebrate a hierarchy of lights and darks. The simplest way to do that is to focus on three different tones of lights and darks.
Here I will take you through what I mean.
Dreams of Round Things, 2006, charcoal on Rives BFK, 26 x 19 inches.
This is a portrait of a friend, architect Joseph Castro, with dark brown leather as the backdrop.
Any complex subject is visually chaotic; with incongruent shapes and lots of details. When you look at something like a person’s face or a panoramic landscape there are a million things to look at – out of all that stuff which do you draw/paint? One of the fun and great challenges for an artist is to organize this chaos in a meaningful way through the use of visual rhythms.
Light delights us. In paintings is easy to see, but the development of it through history is anything but simple. It has been the focus of some of the world’s greatest artists. It is worthwhile to get a glimpse of some of the innovative artworks that advanced light in painting.
Gallup, The Glistening Playground, 2009, 30 x 40 inches
Imagination is one of the cornerstones of art. Its use can be quietly subtle, or flagrantly push beyond the bizarre, or inspire generations of people to dream beyond their immediate circumstances and envision a world of possibilities.
One of the more quiet ways to use imagination is to recreate a real scene from life, yet include additional real objects to complete the idea of the work. Here, David Gallup created an idyllic setting of the Pacific Ocean replete with dolphins, birds, and surfers.
One of Postmodern Art’s important contributions to art history is cheek. But, far from being simple, there are several requirements that need to be met for a successful postmodern work.
The recent Marco Evaristti exhibition of canned meatballs cooked in his fat inspired me for a moment to see what idea I would come up with if I were a postmodernist. It would have to be a new medium of artistic expression and, at the same time, solve several PM requirements. The thing would have to be temporal; use the body of the artist in some fashion; reference an aspect of mass production; be an unorthodox medium; and use the natural force of one’s spontaneous genius (Kant).
As you might imagine, solving these demands is no easy feat.
Evaristti, Polpette al grasso di Marco. Marco Evaristti recently exhibited canned meatballs cooked in his liposuction fat.
O’Keeffe, 1923, Grey Line with Black, Blue, and Yellow
Representational painting, such as landscapes, people, and furniture, is normally viewed at face value. A flower is just a flower; a chair a chair. But the manner in which an artist uses shapes can convey more than the literal content of the painting.
Once you grasp how an artist plays with shapes to convey another layer of meaning it can open up a universe of deeper insight and, sometimes, powerfully erotic subtexts. You may never see art again in the same way.
Ellipses make or break any drawn plate, glass, or bottle. When beautifully done they transport the viewer to experience serene harmony. It’s rare not to have a man-made cylindrical object in a still life.
It should not be surprising that da Vinci painted/drew beautiful ellipses. This detail is a from The Last Supper–it is the plate in front of Christ.
If the artist is going to convey reality, getting the forms right are absolutely essential. The realist artist is also at a disadvantage, in that if they present real objects, these objects have to have believable forms. As simple as forms look in art, they are one of the most difficult things to accomplish.
For example, no spectator is going to believe that the woman’s breasts were concaved, or that the sphere was flat.