Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dabbling in pastels again

It's been a while since I played with my Carbothello pencils properly, so recently I decided to have a dabble. 

I started the lion piece back last October whilst I was Artist In Residence at Nature in Art for a week. It was a 'little filler' whilst I waited for oil paint to dry on another piece I was working on. 

The reference was a badly lit and out of focus image I had of one of Bristol Zoo's Asiatic lion cubs... except they were no longer cubs at the time the photo was taken. They had become juveniles with spiky rough starts to their mane's growth, legs had grown lanky and the head/muzzle had lost that rounded cub look and was elongating to the adult shape. I love this time in a lion's life.. that emerging confidence and energy wrapped up in play. In this case his sibling... another male. Kamran and Ketan.. but I haven't a clue which one this is.  

I had a piece of dark brown pastel paper that I thought would work nicely with the light colours of the young lion. I enhanced the lighting from the original photo and increased the detailing from the out of focus photo. 

Whilst in the 'flow' of working with the Carbothello's (Schwan Stabilo pastel pencils - I prefer their softness and find I do not get 'scratchy' applications) I set myself onto another piece. Again a simple composition. I have seen neither of these animals in the wild, so I do not have the 'knowledge' to paint them in their native habitat. Also these are both captive animals and the muscle tone and coat conditions would be different to a wild counterpart. So why pretend and try and depict them as if they were wild animals. 

Again this ring-tailed lemur is one of the group at Bristol Zoo. The references were taken on a lovely sunny day last year and as ring-tails have a love of doing... this one was sat on a warm stone enjoying the early summer sunshine. 

I had acquired a piece of grey pastel paper that had a rough but fine grade surface, like sandpaper. My mother had it for many years, as she liked to paint and draw, but for some years now she hasn't done any art. So I have 'inherited' all her art materials etc... and this roll of paper was amongst it. I have no idea what this type of paper is called, I'm sure it must have a name... on the back all it has is Hermes P400 HiCab LongLife. I will investigate on my next visit to an art shop. 

A 'ring-tail', I thought, would 'sit' lovely on that soft grey surface and I was curious to see how pastels 'behaved' on such a surface. So I looked through my references and saw the series of images I took on that day of the lemurs soaking up the rays. Just what I was looking for!

I have to say I really enjoyed working on that surface... the pastels could be worked 'deeper' in layers and still look fresh and detailed. I will be getting more of such paper.. or something as close to it as I can.