I’ve been wanting to do a picture of Lucy for quite a while. She’s the faithful sidekick who nestles under my desk chair when I’m blogging. While most of February was warm, we did have one snowy morning where I sat in my rocker reading and drinking tea while Lucy watched robins in the snow. She’s pretty vigilant about any activity outside that door. I didn’t get any good pictures of the robins, but I did get a few of Lucy.
I’ve found that my oils and pastels turn out much better if I do a detailed pencil sketch to really study the composition and work out the shapes and values. Overall I liked the sketch but there was too much foreground. I was going for a feeling of coziness with snow and cold outside the door, so I decided to leave in the rocking chair and granny square afghan (made by my granny, better known as Baba). I let those details sink into the shadows so that Lucy could remain the starring attraction.
I had just watched a DVD by Richard McKinley about the stages in creating a pastel. I wanted to experiment with Pastelmat but wasn’t sure if I could do a watercolor underpainting like McKinley sometimes does. Some pastel paper will buckle or get too soggy if you wet it. My ace advisor, Nancy Vance, said she thought it would work but backed up her advice with a reference to Karen Margulis’s blog.
(Sometimes I need a village to get the job done.)
So I transferred the basics from the sketch to the Pastelmat and did the watercolor underpainting. The paper reacted differently than the UART paper that I’m used to, just as Karen said it would.
With a solid underpainting it seemed like the pastel painted itself. I started with the darks and worked from large areas to smaller ones. Usually I’m in too big of a hurry, but I did this painting in increments over several days, taking my time and leaving details until the end. Here’s “Lucy on the Lookout” or “Watching Robins in the Snow”.
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