You never know you can do something until you try! So I tried a human! My second ever!
The last one was when I first ventured into pastels and was not something I felt comfortable with by any means. However, as you can see, this time I was happy and successful with the outcome.
This pastel painting is my first cat and owners duo and is a very large 20×24 inches. Such a large size meant I had to get it right, no mistakes as they would be magnified on a grand scale. My usual method of eyes first was abandoned and I skirted around almost everywhere avoiding the skin, hair and face. I will never use this method again as it could have been so frustrating to spend so many hours on this portrait before even knowing if I could recreate skin on paper!
You can see I have the background in place, I used derwent sticks to create the background. I used some tones from the cat to bring everything together. I then got stuck into the clothing, I loved creating the impression of cloth and materials. I will definitely look into adding more fabrics into my artwork, I really did enjoy it. I used all sorts of pastel pencils, derwents, pitts and stabilos in various greys with some soft blue to create the blouse. I realised I needed to work differently from normal as I am so used to creating fur, this time I needed to create a smooth looking surface. It took a while to figure out, but I found adding the pastel pencil in small circular movements using the edge of the pastel made the smoothness appear much quicker, I then used that favoured piece of equipment, my finger, to smooth it out even more. Once I had perfected my ‘smooth’ method, I was well away!
You can see how the creases look real, again simply because the fabric looks smooth. I actually found this fabric easier to work on than fur! I also appeared much quicker than animal clothing because it was created with very few layers in comparison.
The next challenge to overcome was to make the body warmer look fluffy, it was a fleece material with not much shine, just highlighted areas, again which needed to look fluffy. This ‘fluffiness’ was achieved by adding the pastel pencil in small circular movements all over the place, almost randomly so there was no smoothness about it. I took quite a while figuring this out, again, once I’d mastered it I was off from the starting gate!
You can see how I continued working on the body warmer, still avoiding the face! I knew by now, the clothing was working out and was annoyed with myself to have spent so long on it so far without even knowing if my skin would be good enough! I just kept telling myself ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’ and to get on with it!
Clothing completed, the face was beckoning me! I had to venture into the unknown!
It was definitely very scary, I began by mapping out the most obvious highlights, colour changes and important parts. I reverted to type and started with the eyes but couldn’t really tell if they were right because I hadn’t added the specs, once they were in place, things started to fit together a little!
You wouldn’t believe how many colours there are in flesh, orange, purple, blue, brown as well as the more obvious pinks. I think I threw almost every colour at it!
Finally you can see I nailed it, I really do think fur is much easier. With faces everything has to be exact otherwise the smallest of mistakes would be so obvious. However, I bravely sent this to my client and he was so happy, a big relief!
I finally rewarded my patience and success with flesh by getting some fur down! This beautiful cat is a seal point siamese with the most stunning chocolatey brown but shiny fur. Again, the eyes went in first, then onto the fur, Once more I used a myriad of colours, there is actually quite a lot of purple in the cat which is hard to believe but it really helped give that shiny look.
At this point my client said everything was fine and it could be ‘perfect’ (his words) if I could just slim down the jowl of the cat, I was ecstatic with this feedback and set about slimming it down.
As yuo can see above, I did easily make the slight change to the jowl, the wonderful thing about pastels is they can so easily be reworked and are very forgiving, it took less than 5 minutes to do this, all that was left to do was sign and re-add the whiskers!
This is the final on the easel shot – please note all colours in the ‘on the easel’ shots can be out due to the lighting I work under and the amount of sunshine at any given time.
And finally, the correct colours, this was way too big to scan so I placed the portrait in front of the big patio windows in our living room to take this final shot and it definitely is much more accurate than previous updates!
I am so pleased with how this came out, I learned so much about creating ‘texture’ and ‘smooth’ areas with pastels I now feel I could take on the world!
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