"Clarence Porter in Home Studio"
In my day to day pastel work, I use photo references for my landscape paintings. I’ve done very little plein-air painting, so when I get a chance to do life drawing, there is an exciting, tightrope-walking kind of feeling I get from the drawing process and I love it.
"Life drawing requires not only capturing the proportions of the figure, but the mood, attitude, and the life of the figure. This is my plein-air."
My most recent life drawings are done on 24” x 18” brown craft paper. I love having the neutral brown colour of the paper as my under-painting. It allows me to dispense with concerns about mid tones and it lets me focus on the dark and light values and the colours I want to put in the drawings. I’m firmly in the camp of “if the values are correct, the colours don’t matter”, and this philosophy frees me to use whatever colours I deem necessary for the drawing. I try not to restrict my colour palette, but the values have to be correct. The brown craft paper is not an archival paper, but I do plan to start doing my life drawings on an archival sanded pastel paper in the very near future. I have some on order.
Since the paper that I’ve been using for my life drawings does not have the grit (the texture of my UART 400 Premium Sanded Pastel Paper), it restricts the number of pastel layers that I can build up. Instead, I use a technique known as visual mixing or feathering – a kind of hatching technique using lines of different values and colours close together or over top of each other to achieve the effect of colour layering. When you stand back from the drawing, the lines blend together and give the visual effect of a solid form. Edgar Degas used a similar kind of drawing technique with a lot of his pastel works (see “Woman Sponging Her Back”, c 1888-92).
I primarily use Prismacolor NuPastel Hard Pastel sticks to do a lot of my drawing. I can lay down more exacting lines with the harder pastels. Afterward, if I do need a hit of a certain colour to sit right on top of the other colours, that’s when I bring out my Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, Diane Townsend or Unison soft pastels to finish off.
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