Monday, July 25, 2011

Demo Fun at Soap Lake Art Guild

I thoroughly enjoyed giving my pastel presentation and demo last Wednesday. Thank you for inviting me! Your hospitality was wonderful and the smorgasbord delicious!

Everyone had interesting questions about the pastel medium and my techniques. I enjoyed sharing about the plethora of pastel paper available today compared to when I began in pastel some 30 years ago. My two favorite grounds today are Wallis and LaCarte.
The surface on the Wallis paper is a neutral pH, pigmented coating with an inert white aluminum oxide abrasive used to create the texture. The durable coating can be tinted or under painted using water, alcohol or solvent based media and will withstand extensive scrubbing and reworking.

Sennelier LaCarte is still my favorite of all time. There's just something about the surface, a finely ground pH neutral vegetable flake and cork that is applied by hand. The surface is uniform and wonderfully abrasive, promoting excellent pigment adhesion without requiring a lot of pastel for coverage. La Carte has a soft "touch" when compared to other sanded pastel papers, but still holds many layers of pastel.

Then I talked about the pastels themselves and all the different brands now available. When you paint in pastel, it's a good idea to have a good selection of colors, values and hardnesses within reach. You can see a small amount of my collection in these photos. I sort my pastels by color and then value.

The time came to dive into my demo. I used a photo reference of a stand of aspen I shot last summer when hiking with my daughter. Since my photo is for reference only, it is not unusual for my finished piece to be nothing like the photo and quite abstract. That's the fun of it - to use artistic license and play with lines, shapes, and colors.

This night was no different. Since I only had a short time, my beginnings had a long way to go, so I invited the crowd up to have their hand at laying on some color. And boy... did they ever improve the piece! They added red, muted bluish purple, midnight blue - hopefully I encouraged a few of them to pick up pastels again and begin a journey of wonder!

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