Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Drawing workshop coming up

"An Apple a Day"
12" x 16" pastel


You might ask what happened to Ireland. Joan and I loved our visit from July 9 to 14. We were so busy having fun that I did not paint or sketch at all. Joan actually did a small watercolor of the lighthouse at Howth to give to the woman who took care of us while staying at the guesthouse. I'm afraid I didn't get a photo. In our short time there we attended Riverdance, the National Symphony, and Evensong service at St. Patrick's National Cathedral sung by Trinity College and St. Patrick's choral. We took a bus tour across the country, and a city tour, visited the National Museum to see a Carravagio, and spent a day in Howth on the coast. I expect I will eventually do some Ireland-inspired art, but many events are taking precedence.

On Friday I begin coordinating a three-day drawing workshop for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society. The workshop committee was asked numerous times for a drawing workshop, so I arranged for Robert K. Semans, the instructor of my weekly drawing class, to teach a workshop. Bob is a very accomplished artist and you can read a bit about him in the SCVWS newsletter.

I started the pastel shown at the top of the page the single Monday I attended class after my lengthy trip. Progress was stalled by jury duty. Thus I added a bit of color at home without benefit of the still life setup to complete the piece to this point. I don't consider this one finished. Sorry, the colors are not very accurate in this photo.

Below is a piece in progress, but I will not get to complete this one because the group finished their two-week session this past Monday, my first day back in class, and are moving on to other subjects. I decided it's a good example of how we approach drawing this type of subject. Bob and our group sets up the still life on a table under a natural skylight. If we can do without artificial light, this setup provides the best highlights and shadows for creating the three dimensional form.


Bowl of fruit in progress

Selecting a toned paper, I first look at size, shape, and placement on the paper. Using a dowel stick, I measure the relationship of height to width and determine how large I want to make the subject. I use vine charcoal to do the drawing, checking my accuracy with the dowel stick. Bob prefers charcoal over graphite because it provides a broader range of values. Vine charcoal is great for laying down the drawing because it easily erases with your finger.

Next, using vine charcoal, I separate the values, ensuring I identify where the highlights occur and keeping them clean of pigment. Thus, you can see the bowl and the shadows remain in charcoal at this stage. I also had indicated very dark values for the plums and lighter values on the colorful fruit and gourd. I then took the piece outside and put a light spray of Workable Fixative over the charcoal.

For those of us who have taken multiple years of drawing in this class, Bob allows the use of pastel on our drawings. Newer students continue to develop work in charcoal and later in conte. To achieve some of the richest colors, I have to mix charcoal or black pastel with a color (I prefer to use a charcoal pencil). Here I used a magenta pastel with charcoal to obtain the deep, rich color of the plums. Highlights are indicated on these colorful fruits with a cream charcoal. White would be too severe and unnatural. I would continue to develop the painting by carefully comparing relationships of value and color. This process reminds me of my workshop in France where we were constantly comparing relationships. Art is art, no matter what medium you use.

Either during or after the weekend, I will show you art from the workshop.

6 comments:

AutumnLeaves said...

Well, both pieces look awesome thus far, Mary. Too bad you weren't able to complete them. I am especially entranced by the shadows on the fruit themselves in the lower piece. Well done and wonderful observational skills.

Mary Paquet said...

Sherry, I do wish I could complete them. I love doing fruit in pastels. Getting those shadows of the core forms just right is a challenge.

hmuxo said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful vacation, Mary!! I love both of these pieces..but especially "an apple a day". You did a great job on the pitcher and fruit!

hw (hallie) farber said...

I don't know whether it's due to your wonderful instructors or your fantastic ability to learn. You seem to absorb everything; then unselfishly pass it on to us. Thanks.

Barbra Joan said...

Mary, Mary yes, I'm still going along with your writings.. you know I love your pastels, I do think it's your 'thing' then again you seem to excel in so many mediums..
hugs, BJ (Barbra Joan)

Tim Robinson said...

Both of these pieces look really nice.