Even now, it still amazes me that artists can start off with a blank surface and create the work that they do. The process of creation is not often shared so I’ve provided some glimpses into how my painting “Honey” transformed from a rough sketch into the final painting.
For this piece, and most of my work, I start off with a “rough-in” using the pastel to block in the main colors.
The colours don’t need to an exact match at this stage. A similarity is good enough! I do however, try my best to adhere to the values (lights and darks) of the piece making sure not confuse areas of light and shadow.
At this stage I am using the pastels quite loosely, and try not to become too locked in on small details.
As I continue blocking in, I begin to use rubbing alcohol (the same kind you find in a pharmacy). I apply the alcohol using a paint brush which makes the pastel look like a watercolour wash to some extent.
This is what many artists refer to as the “underpainting”, though it can be completed in a multitude of ways and mediums. The underpainting serves to hold the painting/drawing together from a visual standpoint.
I continue the process, blocking in large sections and then apply the alcohol until the full piece is covered. Now, most of areas where I intend to layer pastel have an underpainting.
With the underpainting completed, I’m now ready to start layering pastel and mixing colour as I go… meaning I will add pastel slowly in as many as 8+ layers one on top of the other.
In this piece, I began by adding vibrant hues to sit under the skin tones. Here, I chose to go with a warm light and a cool dark, meaning the lighter areas will have warmer colours like orange and yellow whilst the darker areas will have cool colours such as purple and blue.
This stage is the most challenging for me as it feels like I have to lose control over the piece for a moment for the sake of the finished product. When I’m painting, each piece of artwork goes through numerous stages as it is built up in layers. Each layer has a different purpose and presents new challenges and struggles.
I continue layering, using various methods of blending, and referring frequently to my reference. Through each stage I constantly remind myself not to feel defeated or give up. Instead, I press on through the difficulty to reveal the end product.
This is the last stage where I add the final skin tones and final highlights. You can see where those vibrant colours (from Step 4) are doing their job just under the skin tones.
So here is the final piece, which I say would not come to be without the underlying struggle. The process is interestingly reflective of life’s journeys. So, in summary, this is how I progress through most of my pieces.