Dalton Stevens copy

Dalton Stevens copy comparison

Sometimes I do suffer for my art! Recently, I determined to improve the delicacy of my handling of painted skin tones. Skin tones should (underline should) seem almost transparent and lovely, especially for women but also for men. Even if the skin presents as rougher and more weathered it should still seem like there’s blood flowing beneath it. I love portraiture but to-date my skin tones have been subpar, according to my own standards.

I decided to try my hand at pastels in order to break some bad painting habits. I made an abortive attempt using the poor quality oil pastels I had at the bottom of one of my drawers. I was disappointed with their crumbliness and poor blendability and never finished the piece. It became obvious that I would need some better oils pastels before I could really do anything of value. I did some research and ordered a few sets of professional oil pastels. While waiting the shipment I decided to do a piece in chalk pastels. I happen to have a full set of Faber Castell chalk pastel pencils (unused) that had been given to me as a gift years ago. I also have a small collection of CarbOthello pastel pencils that I’d barely used. (I’d bought them in college when I had no real idea of what to do with them.) I found a few artists on YouTube who are excellent with chalk pastel pencils and and took notes. I quickly discovered what I had done wrong is college and bought a few more Caran D’ache pastel pencils and Pastelmat paper and got started.

I worked very slowly, partly because I wanted to  better understand the layering, but also because the chalk dust was murder on my lungs. I knew that I needed to get the piece done this weekend and clean up both myself and my study. (The congestion was getting to be a thing.)

I’m actually quite pleased with the pastel painting I’ve created here, the colors are lovely and I think it’s very effective. It’s not an exact copy (deliberately) as I wanted to make the girl look a bit cuter. And I learned something about thin layers and glazing that as a watercolor artist I SHOULD have known. LOL

Although I don’t think I’ll be doing another chalk pastel piece anytime soon (and certainly not without a good dust mask), I did enjoy the process and learned a great deal about creating lovely skin tones. I’m excited to try a similar subject in oils pastels….As I wrote that last sentence the nice Amazon driver delivered the first of two sets of oil pastels to my door. The first set is a Mungyo Gallery professional soft oil pastels, 48 count. The second set, which will arrive in a week or two from the UK, is a box of Sennelier oil pastels in a 24 count. The colors are specially curated for portraiture. I’ll wait for them before starting my next pastel piece. I already have the subject picked out, a lady’s portrait from the 1930’s.

I have high hopes that I can use pastels for one of my next book covers.

And now, as I slug down cough syrup, I bid you all goodnight!

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