Pastel Workshop, Year Two

seneca pastel

On Friday we finished up our yearly pastel drawing workshop lead by one of our assistant teachers David. Last year I had my first brush with color during this workshop when I made a master copy and some figure drawings with pastel pencils. This year as a painting student I forwent the master copy but jumped at the opportunity to use pastel in the life room where color mixing is sticky, stressful business when you’ve only been painting for seven months like I have. In pencil form color is easier because the hardest part is done for you. Pastel pencils organize the color so it stays rich without getting muddy and the value and temperature shifts are clear as day.

This year we had the most beautiful model I’ve ever seen. His name is Seneca and he’s a dancer so he has a wonderful natural presence on the pedestal. He’s graceful and his musculature is gorgeous. He’s also a very kind person. I can’t deny, I’m always grateful for the hard work our models do but it’s especially inspiring when you get to know them. In terms of the pose, I was struck by Seneca’s elegant posture and the curving bow of his torso that extended beautifully all the way up to the crown of his head. We only had a week to draw and color so I spent a day and a half on the drawing alone (always the most important part) and then moved into color. I drew big cropping the torso to the page so that I could experiment with color across larger forms.

I knew I wouldn’t finish the drawing so I focused on the main area of interest. I like the unfinished quality of the drawing and I tend to like that in paintings as well but I hardly ever use that technique — leaving some of the drawing showing. As I become a more confident draftsperson I have begun to relax about making everything tidy and now relish the organic marks on the page. In painting they call it a “painterly” style. The opposite of a painterly style might be a “tight” style. In artwork I admire both but I tend toward tightness as a student. Juliette’s works, for example, are often painterly. It looks like raw talent but it’s actually quite masterful.

I have so many new projects to share but they are each on the brink of a finish and not quite photo ready. This is what happens when a show is a month away. There are piles of work with each piece begging for just another four hours. More soon!