SCRUMBLE — A Blog About Pastel Art
Scrumble is a pastel painting technique of lightly touching the surface; the result is visually stimulating and very textural. My blog adapts that technique of scrumble, lightly touching on art and the art of pastel painting.
Twisted Path, Asilomar at Monterey, CA
It has been a long trip, full of hills, plateaus, and lots of curves. Lots of rest stops, refueling breaks. A ton of maintenance. Some meet-ups with old friends, some making of new ones. Several stretches of dull and boring. An occasional high-flying hill to coast down. Pretty colorful in spots.
Double entendres? Of course!
So, are we there yet? Biking, traveling, tired-to-the-bone hike, Bill always has the same encouraging answer. "Almost half way there."
Art journey? It's the same: I'm almost half way there. Still learning, pushing, stretching.
Learning, as in just the tiniest touch of a Terry Ludwig pastel edge can create awesome cattails and wild grass.
Pushing, as in don't stop on the painting just yet. Take the contrasts and values further. Put more pressure on the pastel to model the form. Tone down some colors, jazz up the others.
Stretching, as in handling the color green in landscapes. I'm a people painter, love it, enjoy it, have fun with new ideas. Landscapes are the challenge, but in stretching through the learning curve, I'm beginning to enjoy painting those greens. I'm learning the value of grays, and the rich beauty of purples.
Am I there yet? You know the answer.Comment on or Share this Article →
He's An Artist
BACKGROUNDS CAN BE SIMPLE: PART 5
Standing by his own art entry, he glanced over at me with a "we're both artists" kind of smile. So exquisite, you know you're going to paint it.
The reference photo had a dark, no-interest background. Whatever colors I used in the background would ultimately affect everything I did in his face. With a faint idea that it should be simple but colorful, I side-stroked vivid pastels around the head placement. Then I washed, brushed and pushed around the pastel to stain the paper in a child-like way. I wanted to imply a brilliant light falling on his face, and the yellow worked. After the paper was dry, a couple of vertical strokes to indicate a doorway on the left keeps the eyes from sliding off the edge.
Another aha came when painting the face. I normally have a very light touch using the pastel. I wasn't satisfied with the modeling of the face, especially around the nose, so perhaps in aggravation I pushed a Terry Ludwig pastel firmly into the paper. The transformation was immediate - and gratifying.
In painting him, the artist taught me something important: I learned that when close to the end of a painting, extra pressure on the sticks - if using the right value and temperature - models and defines.
Very different handling of pastel for me. The face is defined, detailed, with the shirt and background loose and impressionistic.Comment on or Share this Article →
Enchanted Texas, Pastel, 12x16
What does it mean to "push the painting further?"
We've all heard stock phrases and had no idea of the meaning. In golf, my chief critic aka husband always advises: "hit down and through it." The concept has absolutely no meaning for me. I cannot visualize it or understand it, so it's an instruction I cannot follow. Until that magic moment when I can feel the hands, wrist cock, backswing, impact and follow through perform the elusive instruction, I remain a high handicapper.
So it goes in art: it is just as hard to define "push" the painting. But, once it happens, there's no doubt in your mind what you just did. Enchanted Texas was my April newsletter feature painting. It was an ok painting, it was finished. But up in the right side of my brain, I knew ... it needed pushing.
I had to take my own advice and not be afraid of "messing up."
Remedy: left brain analysis, a little time, spots of contrast and color pops, a subtle path, and a few more cacti.
Result: Enchanted Texas is stronger.
Compare the after painting at the top of this blog to the before painting on the right side.Comment on or Share this Article →
Amby Sings Janis
It's the teeny, tiny whisper strokes in finishing a face that take the most time. And yet they are the ones that really make the painting look like the person. They are the identity marks.
The painting Eloise at Dawn thought it would escape me. The profile of the nose and mouth, with the rim of light, were so specific to the model's face: they proved the hardest to find. I had to put the photo aside and relate the painting to how I remembered the model. When I did that, it was only a few minutes of carving the red background that Eloise at Dawn completed itself.
She inspired this 60 second video of my painted ladies. The quick lead-in snaps are fun Photoshop enhances of the actual painting.Comment on or Share this Article →
He's just laying there. What a pleasure watching him enjoy WHERE he is: soft grass, full sun, smells and sounds in the wind.
I want to go inside to do my "stuff," but my greater connection is to my dog and the contentment I can see in his face.
Watching him, a question resolved itself for me. What drives me to paint? The word emotion has always comes first to mind. That works with people, but a flower, a tree? Is it reaction? I kept folding words in, until one stopped the thinking: Connection.
Just as I felt toward Red and his body language, I experience a connection, a response, to what I paint. With figurative and portrait work, the eyes without question make the connection. It's easy to build the person around them.
Flowers and landscapes, though, where's the connection? First for me are intense shadows; they attract the eyes and pull me in. The flowing gesture of a tree limb, a show-stopper color, a unique composition, intertwining or bending of petals. Sometimes it's just sheer beauty.
Whatever aspect creates it, the thing that binds painting to an artist: connection. And WHERE I'm at now: full enjoyment of being an artist.Comment on or Share this Article →
.... that's the smiling answer when someone asks how to make gumbo. Without a good, rich roux, there is no gumbo. It's the stuff that holds everything together. It adds body. It melds the flavors. It's there in every bite.
A hiccup transition to art: First you make the friends. Without a network of good friends and contacts, there is no art career. They build and hold us together. They encourage and critique. They buy and they spread the word.
Those friends can be one-time acquaintances, business friends, people in an art group. They can be people you've never met, but they read your blog. They can be someone who just saw your website or your name on a list. No matter how insignificant at the time, every contact possesses value.
My February newsletter "Stirred the Pots." That's what a cook must do to get just the right mix. And it's what an artist must do to succeed. Put out little tendrils of hope - blog, enter a competition, update your website, give a workshop, join a great art group, give lessons, design a new business card, try a new technique, send out a press release, write an article, and: keep a running list of all these "ingredients."
Guess what ... all that stirring leads to new friends. And it's the people who know you who make the difference.Comment on or Share this Article →
Missing the Trail, Pastel, 16x12
I'M THERE: Pastel Society of America Associate Member, and how I got there
19 years this month--that's when I took my first art lesson. This week I reached a coveted goal: the Pastel Society of America accepted me as an associate member.
What did I do during those 19 years to reach that goal? I painted.
I learned how each brand of pastel behaves. I learned my pastel colors -- not by hue name, rather by "that dull pink Nu-Pastel that blends so well" and "that delicious skin tone that I'm almost out of." That sort of identification.
I've learned which paper surface works best for me and my technique. When I lived in the dry Middle East climate, I used Canson Mi-Tientes exclusively. When I moved back to the States and the humid Gulf Coast, that same paper made the pastel clump and lump. Wallis Sanded Paper and I became fast friends. It accepts my work and my mistakes.
I've learned that style is something that evolves naturally and that it's best to let it be your own, not what someone demonstrates on a video or workshop. The style that attaches itself to you is unique, so keep it, don't try to be someone else.
I learned that kindness is everywhere. While living in Japan, I couldn't find where to get slides developed for a competition in the U.S. The language barrier was steep, but my friend Sakae Seki rescued me. With translation dictionaries in our hands, we talked, she found, and we did it.
I learned that competitions are great for validating but not for selling. Since that first slide acceptance and subsequent shipping nightmare, I've been accepted in many juried exhibitions, from local to international. But the work always came back home with me.
I've learned that even a bad painting is good. It teaches me something, from composition improvement to color choices.
I've learned the graciousness of other artists. From compliments and encouragement to critiques and referrals, artist friends are wonderful.
I've learned blogging, giving voice to that internal self that talks all the way through a painting. And isn't it a great online, rotating gallery?
I've learned to listen to that internal voice, the one that says, "no, not that one" when I swipe a color across the painting." Sometimes it just sighs when my hand reaches for an outrageous choice. Frequently it blurts out, "you know that's wrong. Don't accept it. Fix it." But always it's there both chiding and encouraging me, letting me know that I CAN dot it.
I'm learning: a little about marketing, a lot about perseverance, and the most about stirring the pot.
So if anyone asks how I got in PSA, the answer is, well, you know, 'cause you just read it. But to the others, it can only be: "I painted; I learned."Comment on or Share this Article →
Velvet, pastel, 12x16
BACKGROUNDS CAN BE SIMPLE: Part 4
Velvet presented a challenge. As a rushed demo, I had time only for the block-in
and bringing one petal to an almost finished state. With a step-back look, it was obviously "one ugly flower."
Back in the studio, it became a mind bender. I love playing with colors on flowers, imagining what color the shade COULD be and how surroundings COULD render white. This one, however, started so far off that it was hard to unify. As I worked it, even the background failed.
The green didn't work? Brush it off. A dull gold looked good ... for a while! As I continued to layer and adjust pastel on the petals, I realized that so much was going on with the petals that the background had to sort of melt away. That sent me back to "keep the background simple." Using feather strokes of light colors, I was able to "remove the background" and let it fade into and around the petals.
The light background let the shade and light exist without clamoring for attention. Another lesson learned.Comment on or Share this Article →
Something in Red
BACKGROUNDS CAN BE SIMPLE: PART 3
Toned paper equals the simplest of backgrounds. Something in Red started that way, but took a life of its own.
Paint a face with mystery, a little touch of abandon. That was the concept for this pastel painting. A bright vivid red pastel found its way onto Wallis Sanded Paper; a Turpenoid wash melted the color, dripped down and created a background almost too pretty to paint anything over it.
With the model's dimples, smile, slant of the gaze, and carefree hair,
I could hardly wait to get started. After a careful drawing of the face, I applied dark pastels to the shadow areas. Fun and easy, using colors I wouldn't normally use for the face.
Turning to the lighter areas, however, I hit a roadblock. My advice: skip the red background if you are painting a fair-skinned person. It's hard to cool it down and light it up!
For this particular painting, because I wanted a riot of color, the red background succeeded. It's interesting, wild and sassy.
The Lori Morgan song, Something in Red, inspired this pastel painting, and continues my series of Painting the Songs. Listen to Lorrie's song on YouTube.Comment on or Share this Article →
Old Halo, Pastel, 18x24
Old Halo honors two special men. It's a personal painting, but at the same time, its composition evolved into universal symbolic ideas.
Inspiration seems to come when the mind is idle. Driving in slow traffic, Country Legends 97.1 on the radio, the words of a Randy Travis song seeped through a conscious level into that delightful creative side of the brain. I let the song wander around, hitting on images, until the who and how came together.
He Walked on Water is the story of a son paying tribute to his father, the things he did for his son and the clothes he wore, just the ordinary business of being a father. On Sundays Pa "wore starched white shirts buttoned at the neck," and he loved his ever present railman's hat. That hat identified Pa, and really was his everyday halo. He lived the meaning of the song, every day.
Pa's background is dark, reaching into the recesses of his workshop, the clock showing that his time was up.
Bill is my husband, and he always has a halo. Not just the hat kind, but the true inside kind. This painting just happens to put him into his visible halo, the Texas Longhorns. His head is lowered, catching the full sun, reverent to the father he loved.Comment on or Share this Article →