Monday, November 15, 2010

Inspiring pastel demo with Clayton Buchanan

Pastel artist Clayton Buchanan gave a local workshop last week. Wow. Now, first I have to say that I don't work with soft pastels much or ever. I work with oil paint and oil pastels, occasionally watercolors, collage - yadayada.  But the way this artist talked about what he was doing, and the way he was doing it shed light for me on the process of "seeing."  Check out his website, by the way - his finished works are gorgeous.

His method was at first baffling. He'd stare at his subject, then stare at his chalks. (a familiar enough process). He'd suddenly pickup one and make a little mark here or there on the paper. At first the results didn't seem to make much sense or form a picture. It was just little squiggles or patches of color. But after a while the subject emerged from the chaos of color into a recognizable and accurate picture.  During the process a roomful of 30 people sat silently watching for an hour and a half.  There was a ten minute break, and an occasional question shot out by onlookers - but mostly these folks, all artists,  watched intently.  And it was worth the wait!   He also had two great handouts about using pastels and using them for portraits. The event was put on by SCAN.

Mr. Buchanan said we should try to see our  compositions in terms of "plains of light and shadow," and to try and see those plains in terms of color rather than value.  That really hit home for me. I am currently working on a bunch of paintings. One in particular features two men sitting on a bench in the early sunlight. I am trying to apply these ideas:  "Plains of light an shadow" and color rather than value . I think these ideas will allow me to move forward with this particular picture in a different way than before.