Thursday, October 25, 2012

Study, study, study!

In all of my pastel classes this week we focused on doing small, timed studies. I find this to be a great exercise to not only prepare for a larger painting, but also to simply increase your painting skills (and painting speed) by getting more painting mileage behind you. Some other benefits to doing quick, small studies:
- You're more inclined to try different, riskier approaches since you know you won't have very much time invested in each little'll quickly see what works and what doesn't.
- You're less inclined to fuss over each area of the painting since it's not meant to be a finished piece.
- You'll think more in terms of the "big picture" rather than minor details, which helps you to narrow in on what you want to say with the painting.

In my Thursday class, we focused on composition and painted three versions of the same landscape using different formats for each (square, vertical and horizontal), spending no more than about 20 - 30 minutes on each. Below are my demos of each...

The Long and Winding Road I, 6x6

The Long and Winding Road II, 8x6

The Long and Winding Road III, 6x8

In my Monday class earlier in the week we focused more on timed exercises to help everyone get more in the habit of blocking in larger shapes and quickly getting the entire surface covered, rather than getting caught up in unnecessary details. Students had 30 minutes to work on each of three separate paintings. Below are the two demos I did for that class:

Does This Go Anywhere?, 10x8

Uphill, 10x8
The paintings at the top of this post are done on Sennelier LaCarte paper and the ones just above are on gatorboard prepared with pumice gel (toned first with a warm neutral color).

As I observed the progression of the three paintings each student did in each class, most every student made substantial improvements from the first one to the third one!


  1. Lovely paintings. There's some great variety with the different papers and then use of the pumice gel. I've never tried LaCarte but it's on my wish list :)

    1. Thanks, Vanessa! Yes, you can really create a different look and mood with the various surfaces. When I'm not using a liquid underpainting, LaCarte is my favorite surface!