The Echo Series, Pastel Figurative Drawings by Michael Newberry

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Recent overlaid pastel figurative drawings. Reminiscent of Duchamp‘s Nude Descending a Staircase, though overlaid figurative drawings have been around since Chauvet Cave painters.

I like the temporary feeling of fleeting moments and sense of continuous flowing impressions. I don’t know if I am ready for a life-size painting. It could be very cool to a lovers painting in this way, shifting the subject of the painting to the feeling not the reality. Think about the times you have made genuine love, do you recall the pornographic details or the currents of movement triggering all your senses, one wave after another? I think this approach would be idea for that. We will see the more I put it through my psychological grinder–any of those mental voices have veto rights.

I edited a couple of them today.

Michael Newberry, Idyllwild, 4/25/2020

Rebirth: Death and Life through Art

Mary Woodul, Espíritu Ascendente, charcoal on Rives BFK, 13x19"
Mary Woodul, Espíritu Ascendente, charcoal on Rives BFK, 13x19"
Mary Woodul, Espíritu Ascendente, charcoal on Rives BFK, 13×19″

Years ago a grandchild of a friend and student of mine died. The little girl wasn’t born right and was not destined to live past childhood. At that time Mary wanted to do a special project based on the little girl’s passing. I recall the concept started with a soft cloth with lace embroidery, and quickly a flower, an iris, was added. Mary drew 20 or so thumbnail sketches, tweaking each composition until she found the one that pleased her most.

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A Little Greek Pastel Painting Trip by Michael Newberry

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Years ago I took a pastel painting trip of a lifetime, for three months I traveled from Athens, Greece to many islands, eventually to Istanbul, and slowly back again to Athens. My first island was Tinos, from the harbor I rented a scooter, booked a tiny house outside of town for 15 dollars a night. The porch had a sloping view over gray-green olive groves down to the dark and brilliant ultramarine blue Mediterranean, about 300 ft to the left was a small, room-sized luminous white-plastered Byzantine church. 

My first day I loaded my backpack with my 200 piece pastel set, and packed several sheets of full-size pastel paper in my large portfolio bag, swung the bulky bags over my shoulder. Weighed down, I then swung my right leg over the scooter and the momentum carried me, the bags, and the scooter to crash to pavement. Laying painfully on my side, the pastels scattered on the ground, and with the scooter pinning me down I couldn’t get up. An elderly Greek woman dressed in black tending the church next door witnessed it all. And she kindly helped me get up through my blushing burn of embarrassment. Once I was upright she helped me collect the pastels. Not speaking any English, she took my arm to follow her to her favorite view of the church, and through hand gestures suggested that I draw it. 

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Before Everything There Was Visual Art

Chauvet Caves, Horses Heads, 32,000 BC
Chauvet Caves, Horses Heads, 32,000 BC
Chauvet Caves, Horses Heads, 32,000 BC

They Will Destroy You

The embedded rocks and still-green tumble weeds were flying towards my tennis shoe covered feet, my outstretched hands steering my downward trajectory were being cut to slivers by the crystal rock veins lining the 40-ft ravine incline—the unexpected push and gravity created a reckless momentum that my brother hoped would be fatal. It was not. 

Never turn your back on some people, or they will destroy you. 

The Eyes of Rembrandt

If light could kiss this would be the most loving, achingly sensitive kinetic caress. Shadowed waves rose and glided back to the recesses, like invisible currents of air witnessing a glint of moisture and a warming pulse. This is where goodness lives. In the eyes of Rembrandt

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Workshop Series: Pastel, Let the Color of the Paper Work for You

Newberry, Santa Monica Lamp, pastel

Newberry Art Tutorials

Colored and dark papers can save you precious time and give you amazing effects. When I paint/draw/teach plein air I try to nail the impression in under an hour, it is a race against the planet moving. As the sun slowly moves across the landscape you will see new cast shadows, new lights, after 3 hours they all cancel each other out leaving you with muck. So in keeping the time short using the dark paper can be a huge advantage.

The idea is the paper is your dark areas, sketch in the composition and leave the darkest part alone. From there you focus on bringing out the light, driving towards the light, with the last touches happening in the last few minutes before your hour is up! This approach works wonderfully and it feels magical while doing it.

One of the reasons why leaving the paper alone as darks works is because shadows are the absence of light. The darks don’t need details or labor, leaving them alone creates a atmosphere of mystery that is a perfect foil for all the lights you will be drawing. Save time, effort, and create magic by leaving lots of paper alone. Enjoy!

Below are my pastel landscapes all in under an hour. Take note of the dark areas are just paper.

Nude Reclining

Newberry, Nude Reclining, pastel on black paper, 20x30"

I drew this the other evening from a live model. It is play on Duchamp’s Nude Descending and I have thought of doing a painting with this overlapping concept, we will see. The concept is not new, it happens all the time with life drawers doing quick poses, or a continuous pose, when the model moves very slowly from one pose to another and artists draw it as quickly as possible with overlapping marks. It also happens with Renaissance drawings even with cave paintings, dues to running out of surface.

I just uploaded to my archive.

Five Pastel Still Lifes

Newberry, Double O, pastel, 18x24"

Today I uploaded these pastel still lifes to my archive. They are in my Idyllwild studio’s drawing drawers. There is difficult oxymoron in painting and pastel which is that color kills light and light kills color, but I think with these I achieved the perfect balance bringing out the best of both. At the moment they are available and upon sale they will be framed with museum Tru-Vue glass, the best, no glare all you see is the beauty of the pastel and paper.