Saturday, 21 February 2009

Drawing with pastel and not painting

Trees in lake #3
Trees in lake, study, 29x21cm
Coloured pencils on cartridge paper

The way I tend to use pastels is very much like paint: I tend to treat the support as a surface made up of different shapes, colour fields rather than developing a piece of art out of lines and linear marks. I also tend to work with pastel board - usually Colorfix board in darkish purple, light blue or anything in between. When I tag my pastel pieces in Flickr or Etsy, I have to remind myself to also label them as 'drawing' not simply as 'painting'.

So, although I work in dry medium I tend to say that I paint with pastels.

Just recently, I begun to draw with them. Not only that but I also reverted back to white paper as support - something I had given up as early as I could leave some sort of semi-competent mark with pastels quite a few years back. Admittedly, the paper I am using now is no longer cartridge but handmade, heavy-weight Arches paper.

And: how wonderful the white paper is and what drawing marks the pastels can make!

You may guess that the inspiration for this has been Wolf Kahn's use of pastels as his plein air medium of choice and my delving deeper into his palette, working process and subject matter.

So, while some smaller studies in pastel and coloured pencils preceeded these (like the one on the top of this page), here are two studies of the Pond Reflections. Both use a fairly limited palette, with greens introduced to the second one.

Pond reflections in colour
Pond reflections in Colour , no. 1
Soft pastel on Arches, 58x39 cm

Pond reflections in colour
Pond reflections in Colour , no. 2
Soft pastel on Arches, 58x39 cm

It's with these ventures outside comfort zones that I surprise myself: oh, are these really your marks? Your choice of hues? Of building up tension between different marks, hues and shapes?

Hm, maybe ownership isn't the way to approach this... let me think about this a little more.

I've been trying to draw with pastels for a while now and it's slowly building up a repertoire of marks and lines that will stay. It is also interesting to see the different hues that are being introduced - my small travel box now includes very different sticks to last summer - they are much more pigment-laden and full of reds, orange and magentas. Interesting...


Anonymous said...

I find it really interesting that the colours you are using have changed as your explore Kahn's work and immerse yourself in drawing with pastel. The last one in particular reeally vibrates with energy.

Jala Pfaff said...

These are really great. I particularly love the final one!

Gesa said...

Thank you!
Yes - the greens in the second one pull the whole composition apart and together, don't they? It's really the first time that I'm exploring someone else palette, and I like the way it's interacting with what I did before. I think the printmaking as different medium is providing some useful points here too.

Brian McGurgan said...

Beautiful color, Gesa, and very nice against the white paper. I've been thinking often too about doing more drawing with pastel rather than painting. The idea I have in mind is of light veils of color, layered only lightly in places and with lots of paper showing through much as you've done in allowing so much paper to remain untouched. Your line work here keeps the colors nice, fresh, and bright - not like the muddy effect I was wrestling with this morning!

Gesa said...

Brian - that sounds intriguing - I'm curious to see how you get on. I tend to blend a lot less than you do; but I found these long drawing marks very cool in comparison to my usual short/scumbly marks.
And yes: the white paper!!! Also: because it's so smooth it keeps a lot of crispness. VERY nice.

Unknown said...

Cool Pastel work. I would like to appreciate your good work.