Saturday, March 30, 2013

Some Pastel Techniques and Recent History

As mentioned in a previous post, I was fortunate to be able to take off a few days from work and enroll in an Introduction to Pastels workshop by Lella Lee Edwards through the Rappahannock Art League in Kilmarnock, VA.

Marge Alderson was also in the class and it was wonderfully educational for me to listen to these women who are of my mother's generation, to talk about the early days of the Torpedo Factory and the artist organizations in Northern Virginia in the mid 1970s. My mother and Margaret Huddy were good buddies and mom ran in these same circles.

It was reassuring to go into another artist's studio and realize that there are highs and lows in everyone's working life. Lella Lee actually picked up and started working on one large pastel painting that had been sitting on her easel, untouched, she said, for five years. "I think I was just sick of flowers," she announced at one point.

Marge's children attended the same high school I did and while I don't remember her kids, I was pretty wrapped up in my own circle at that time.

I did complete several small pastels while I was there. Apparently, I work pretty quickly. I wasn't thrilled with a couple of them. One, in fact, has already been rubbed out. A second, of a ram, is staring at me now and will likely meet a similar fate. The drawing is very weak and I just can't quite be happy with it. But the subject has potential and I may give it another go with a different palette.

One piece made me very happy and just happened to be the first one I did on a scrap of some old charcoal paper she gave us to play with. It is a painting of a cabbage from my garden. When it was close to finished, but I was just not sure what it was missing, Lella Lee made her rounds and suggested that the outer leaves needs to be lightened. I reached for a light green and she pointed to a light blue. "Try that," she said. Sure enough, it was the perfect choice.

The theme for the April RAL members show is "The Color Green", so I plan to submit this if I can get down there at lunch time to put it in on Monday.

Mom helped me put a mat on it and I popped it into a frame that I had sitting around. It doesn't have the 3 inches of matting that Lella Lee recommends, but for a quick job (and cheap), I think it will do.
I do see, now, however, that I need to invest in the non-reflective glass as the cheap stuff in this frame makes it nearly impossible to see the painting. I think this is due, in part to the darker colors of the painting, so the glass is behaving like a mirror against it. But with the right glass, or in a room without windows, it works fine. You can see the camera and my hand reflected in the glass.

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