Student Works During Quarantine

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Recent works during the quarantine from two students Susan Surber, the Flower in pastel, and from Sonia L’eatarde, two girls in oil.

Very proud of my students, these works were done independently of me. They took what they had been learning and applied it on their own, self-motivated, and, in my mind, very successfully. Sonia painted the two girls from masterworks from the Prado, but they are free transcriptions. We’ve been working with color theory and forming the structure of the face. Sonia’s recent lessons with me was to freely copy some classic sculpture heads to learn form. The roundness in her children’s faces is superb. And they look like children, one of the most difficult things to do in art.

Susan’s previous lessons were on building up the light by many layers of pastel layers, gently get to the lightest patches, beautiful and delicate technique. Both students have worked very hard and fearlessly, no quick formula. For instance, if I see a weakness in the colors we will go tirelessly through how color theory works in creating forms, light, and depth — it is a conceptual technique, meaning once you get it you can apply it to any color range.

If you are interested to work with me, email me some of your work, let me know about what you would love to do most in subject and technique, and how many hours a week you can work. No formula, just a lot of fundamental work, no cheating. hahah.

Michael Newberry, Idyllwild, 5/6/2020

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

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. 

Continue reading “A Little Greek Pastel Painting Trip by Michael Newberry”

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.

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.

Workshop Series: Find the Shadows First

Newberry, House Bridge in Rhodes, pastel

Newberry Art Tutorials

Then Add Light!

One of the most important lessons I teach in my workshops is to find the shadows first. It is almost a guarantee that if you find interesting shadows then the rest of your drawing or painting will work!

The hard part is that looking for shadows (cast, core shadows of the thing, and areas of dark) is counter intuitive, most people look for the color and a beautiful thing. Trust me, without the shadows it is a lot of work with little to show for it. In my pastels below you will probably notice the light and color, but what set up each one were the blocks of shadows.

The process starts with a dark paper, compose with any dark medium color playing special attention to main shadow areas. In cases with shadows of a yellow or white building, I lighten the shadow, but only one or two tones up from the paper. The rest is a lot of fun, leaving the shadow areas alone, then focus on the light and color areas, adding light by subtle gradations until I finish with the brightest light.

Join us in Provence France, September 7-16, 2020

Cheers,
Michael Newberry

The Grounds at Van Gogh’s Asylum in St. Remy

Today’s Edits of my Pastels from St. Remy

I took an extra week in France after my pastel workshop to draw for myself. I spent a day on the grounds of Van Gogh’s Asylum in St Remy. Then I was profoundly happy to be there and just drew without thinking; just experiencing. But today, I looked over these and added a little light. And I uploaded them to the studio collection of pastels on my archive.