Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Oil Pastel Demonstration

Sunflower Magic
Oil Pastel on 16 x 12 Ampersand PastelBord

On the fifth Thursday of each month, I do some type of demonstration for my students and anyone else who might want to attend, of a technique or with a medium which they are not familiar with. This was an oil pastel demo using several techniques that are used with traditional oil paints. First, we have the subject...a couple of tall fake sunflowers that, sort of hide, the old water cooler.

The group was quite surprised to see my initial sketch since it looked nothing like the standing sunflowers, but I explained that as an artist, we interpret the subject. We don't always want to be explicit when it's not a great scene anyway...we have options!
Here's a pic of my set up in the studio for using my oil pastels.

...and here's a couple of closer images so you can see some of my tools and oil pastels. I use several brands but this painting is done mostly with Craypas Specialist, Sennelier, and Holbeins.

The initial sketch of the sunflowers is done with an acrylic ink. I love the bottles with the squeeze tops. Having little control over the drawing gives me the ability to keep the image very abstract. The color I used for this drawing was a deep purple, a complement for the yellow of the sunflowers. I work upright allowing the drips and runs to create even more lines of interest as you'll see in the next image.

While the ink is drying (which takes about five minutes) I'm choosing several colors for the dark background keeping in mind that my foreground flowers will have an abundance of yellow. I select a dark violet, dark thalo green and ultramarine blue. Laying the sticks on the side for a 'brush-like stroke', I quickly lay in colors for the background. This becomes my underpainting stage. Using mineral spirits and a large stencil brush, the colors are blended allowing each to retain its on hue. I don't want to blend so much that all the colors get dull and lifeless.

The yellow is now stroked on and blended. I've reinforced the outer edges of the petals with lines in a deep cad yellow at this stage. If your composition needs changes, now is the time to do it! but good planning from the start is vital to a final painting that stands the compositional test. The next image also shows how I begin painting by using my same dark colors to deepen the areas in and around the sunflowers.

My blending techniques include using a tortillon, the stencil brush, and the ever faithful finger tips! Just be careful on sanded surfaces...you don't want to use the finger tips unless the paint is very thick over the surface. And!!Don't overblend!! Allow the eye to do some of the work.

I also used a scraping technique with a razor tool which allowed me to get back to the underpainting surface when I laid on a color that I felt didn't harmonize with the other colors. I don't plan all the colors ahead of time. I like to reach and grab the first thing my eye lights on. Sometimes it adds a nice surprise to the art...sometimes not...but, either way, it's always interesting!

The final image is posted at the top of my blog page. Feel free to add comments...I love to read what you have to share too! and if you're in Darien on the next "Fifth Thursday", drop by at 1 PM to see what we're up to! Until next time, keep paintin!