Thursday, May 20, 2010

PASTEL TECHNIQUE


Whistler

Mary Cassatt









Edgar Degas


Pablo Picasso





Paula Rego
Chalk Pastel: Wikipedia defines this medium as "an art medium in the form of a stick, consisting of pure powdered pigment and a binder. The pigments used in pastels are the same as those used to produce all colored art media, including oil paints. The 19th-century French painter Edgar Degas was a most prolific user of pastel and its champion. Mary Cassatt, introduced pastel to the Impressionists and to her friends in Philadelphia and Washington, and helped popularize pastel in the USA.
Whistler produced a quantity of pastels around 1880, including a body of work relating to Venice, and this probably contributed to the growing enthusiasm for the medium. In particular, he demonstrated how few strokes were required to evoke a place or an atmosphere (example Note in Pink and Brown).
Modern notable artists who have worked extensively in pastels include Fernando Botero, Francesco Clemente, Daniel Greene, Wolf Kahn, and R. B. Kitaj.
Pastel sticks or crayons consist of pure powdered pigment combined with a binder. The exact composition and characteristics of an individual pastel stick depends on the type of pastel and the type and amount of binder used. It also varies by individual manufacturer.
  • Soft pastels are most widely used form of pastel. The sticks have a higher portion of pigment and less binder, resulting in brighter colors. The drawing can be readily smudged and blended, but it results in a higher proportion of dust. Finished drawings made with soft pastels require protecting, either framing under glass or spraying with a fixative to prevent smudging. (Works are properly mounted and framed under glass in a way which means that the glass does not touch the artwork.)
  • Hard pastels have a higher portion of binder and less pigment, producing a sharp drawing material that is useful for fine details. These can be used with other pastels for drawing outlines and adding accents. However the colors are less brilliant than with soft pastels.
  • Pastel pencils: These are pencils with a pastel lead. They are useful for adding fine details.
Pastel Technique: 
Drawing - much like drawing with any writing utensil, this technique is mostly used for outlining and making dark defining lines with varied pressure. The thicker the lines, the harder one should press and for thinner, lighter lines, pressure should be released.
Blending - for smooth transitions, this technique is used by laying down thick lines of color, (again light or dark depending) and using ones finger to smear the colors together, creating a solid transition from one color to the next. This can be seen in The Storm-Sunset (1880) in the area under the clouds where Whistler wanted to depict shadows.
Scumbling- a piece of chalk is turned on it’s side and rubbed to create a grainy, open color in which the paper beneath, or color applied beneath can be seen through (Boddy-Evans). In Whistler’s works, he uses scumbling to allow the color of the paper beneath the pastel to contribute to the piece as well. In The Storm-Sunset (1880), scumbling can be seen in the periphery of the sky and water, allowing the orange paper to add to the sunset.

Here is a pastel drawing I did in school for Christopher Orchard's Life Drawing class. Notice the fact that I used at least 7 different tones only for the skin. Chris was forbidding smudging the pastels in his class, and he was right. It takes a long time to master pastel techniques. Unless you are experienced in using pastels, it is better to stay away from blending.



Here is the drawing of student Teodora Titescu from my Drawing Class, in hard pastels (a kind of pastel with more binder than pigment; usually it comes in square shape but not necessarily) . Teodora is only 12 years old, but she attends the adult class, you can see why, judging from her drawing.

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