Color Explorations Class – Working with Pastels

For tonight’s class we are working with pastels.  We were given a plate of different color pastels.  The basic colors of blue, green, red, yellow, orange, white, and brown.  

We were given pastel paper with our drawing already traced.  The art center had interns helping out and so they traced our drawings for us.  The paper we used had a bit of grit on the surface.  Yes, reminded me of fine sand paper.  The rough surface will hold the pastel on the paper.  

The pastels I used were a bit student-grade quality.  They were also very hard.  My finger blending skills did not work well tonight plus the gritty paper was making my fingers a bit tender.  

My artwork is just so-so.  I know it could be better:  


You can definitely see a huge difference and style from my previous pastel drawing of champagne glass and cork and this pepper drawing.

My take away from class:  always use artist grade supplies and there will be less frustration.  

Paper used:  unknown mfg of gritted pastel paper (8″ x 10″)

The Start of Another Art Class: Color Explorations – Working with Oils

Before my next art class started I received an email suggesting I bring photos to work from.  If I did not have any, the art center would have some available.  We are supposed to be working with three mediums:  oils, acrylics, and pastels.  Should be a long, but interesting week.  

We are having class on the second floor of the art center.  It’s an open room with tables setup in the middle.  I see there are suppose to be a total of six students taking the class.  I strategically pick a seat at a corner of the table and not in the middle.  Since we’ll be working with several mediums including painting I want to make sure I have enough elbow room.  

I brought two photos with me.  One was a coneflower and the other was the infamous habanero peppers from Grand Cayman.  On instinct, I selected the pepper picture to use during class.  I wasn’t too sure how much time we would spend on each medium and so I thought peppers could be quickly drawn.  

I was watching the other younger students pick out landscape scenes that include beaches and mountains.

Our art instructor tonight was Emily.  She also taught the Drawing Explorations class I took back in May.  

We were given sketch paper (8×10) and told to do a rough sketch of our photo.  Once that was completed we had to flip our paper over and cover most of paper with graphite.  Ahhhh…we are going to trace our design onto our canvas.  Clever.

I carefully placed my sketch paper over my 8×10 canvas and drew the outlines of my peppers.  Here’s what I ended up with:  


Next, Emily did a demonstration on how to prime our canvas with a light brushing of burnt sienna and a small mix of walnut alkyd (thins the paint and increases drying time).  Like giving the canvas a good light wash of color.  That way we are not staring at a white canvas.  So merrily I went with my brush across my canvas only to find that it was not a light brushing I produced.  I guess I have a heavy hand tonight.  I could barely see the outlines of my peppers.  No worries.  I know these peppers very well and could probably draw them with my eyes closed.  

Our first official instruction was to paint the dark values first.  Emily showed us how to mix the colors from the standard tubes we were given.  We were using M. Graham oil paints.  In our set was the basic Ultramarine Blue, Naphthol Red, Azo Yellow, Titanium White, and Pthalo Green.  The paint consistency is very smooth.  There was also tubes of brown available for us to use.  M. Graham paints are walnut-oil based and are non-toxic.  Solvent free.  Very much artist quality. Interesting.   

I grabbed some Ultramarine blue and burnt sienna and mixed a dark color for the shadows under and around the peppers.  For the shadows, I added some color to give a slight reflection of color under each pepper.  Once done, I squinted at my peppers to find their dark values.  I saw a dark green with blue, dark orange with a bit of red, and dark purple with some red.  I mixed my colors and made sure I had enough so I could complete the peppers.  

I worked the dark values over the peppers.  Before I knew it, it was time to clean up before class ended for the night.  We dipped our brushes into the walnut oil and cleaned out as much paint as we could.  Then we went over to the sink and used Dawn detergent to get the remaining paint out of the brushes.  

Unfortunately, my painting looked a bit weird/wonky and I forgot to take a picture of it at this stage.  

My take away from class:  the walnut oil is used to remove color from the brushes and also increases the flow and slows the drying process of the paint.  The walnut alkyd medium thins the color and accelerates the drying and enhances the adhesion between layers.  It also increases surface sheen.  Must remember to go lightly with the initial wash of color over the canvas.  

Canvas used:  8″ x 10″

Colorful Art: Pastels

For the past three months, I have been experimenting with different art mediums.  I would not have been able to do that without the help of the classes offered at my local art center.  I was able to dabble in graphite, charcoal, colored pencils, more charcoal and expanding my knowledge, acrylic painting on lotus leaves, oil painting, and pastels.  That is a lot of experimentation in a short amount of time.

I enjoy working with colors and mixing basic paint colors.  There is something soothing about creating new colors on a palette or plate.  While I like to paint, it is not my favorite medium.  For me it takes too long to setup or prep my painting area.  I am using a temporary space within my home as I have not carved out a studio area.

My past experience has been when I am ready to draw, I need to start quickly.  Grab my paper and graphites and start my creativity.   It is all about keeping the momentum going.  Oh and not think about it too much.  Just Do It!

This leads me to the topic of my post.  Colorful Art.  As in Pastels.  I think I found my favorite art medium.   How could I tell?  It’s that feeling I get when the right side of my brain tells my hand to go with it.  Be creative.  Draw what I see.  Don’t think.  Be fearless.

As you already know I like drawing from my photographs (since I own the copyright) and since I am intrigued with glassware, I thought why not draw something I like.  I knew which picture would be a good challenge for me.

I applied the pastels on paper and created this:


I was taken back at what I created.  Kind of like having a “wow” moment to myself.  That was when I knew I found my favorite medium.

Here’s the next stage of the drawing where I laid down the background colors:


I need to do better in my previous posts and provide a picture of what I am drawing from.  Here’s my work in progress (with included source picture):


Once I finish this drawing, I will be back and post the final pictures.  I will also be providing a review/post of the pastel I used.  Stay tuned!

Paper used:  Kona toned paper (11″ x 14″)

Lotus Leaf Painting with Acrylics

When I saw this class listed in the catalog, I was intrigued with what I would be painting on.  It’s not a canvas, but a panel.  From what I understand the lotus leaf is grown in Thailand.  The leaf is cut and dried and then applied onto a panel and dried again.  A single panel can contain several leaves of different sizes.

Again, I arrived early to class and found that I had a spot reserved at a table.


I immediately liked my panel and the leaf composition.  We each had a tray of acrylic paints along with our mixing plates.  From a community table, I picked out an apron to wear as I was told that this particular paint would be hard to remove from fabric.


There were 11 others who signed up for this class and we were given three hours to complete our painting.  Carla, our instructor, roamed around our tables providing us with background information on the panels,  She also helped us with mixing colors,  using the different brushes, decorating ideas using stencils and more elaborate paints, and suggestions on what colors to use.

I chose to do something Caribbean related.  Well, I tried.


After I finished my painting, Carla went ahead and applied a spray varnish.  The colors came out a bit darker than I originally painted.  Now I know what some artist talk about when applying fixatives or varnishes to their artwork…tends to make the artwork darker.  So it does.

I am looking forward to the Fall/Winter catalog and hope to see this class offered again.  I would like to paint two more panels to complement the one I have already painted.

This was a very relaxing class.  I enjoyed picking out my own colors to paint with.  All twelve of us created some unique pieces of art.

Playing with Pastels

I think I have found a new art medium that is just as much fun as drawing with graphite.  I was looking for another art medium where I can work with colors.  Something that I could cover the large areas of paper.  Quickly and easily.  PASTELS!

I was looking online and found an inexpensive set of pastels.  I am a person who firmly believes “you get what you paid for”, but I found a really good deal on a set of 24 Prismacolor Nupastel sticks for under $12.

So, I gave them a try.  All I can say is Wow!


I worked on layering the colors.  I actually went from light to dark values on this apple and then applied some white for the highlights.


Does this look familiar?


Remember I had taken a picture of a still life from class (drawing explorations)?   I have been using it when I practice with different art mediums.

I had an enjoyable time using the Nupastels.  More to come!

Paper used:  Kona toned paper (11″ x 14″)

Personal Drawings: A Tropical Fish

I’m in a lull where I’m not taking any art classes for a few weeks.  I am making a point to practice during the evenings and on weekends.  Time permitting.  I have a lot of photos that I have taken and I have spent some time going through them.  The ones I have selected to draw, I have them printed on my Epson printer on 5″x7″ photo paper.  This size paper is big enough to see the details and still small enough that I can stick it on the corner of my drawing board while I sketch/draw.  The 4″x6″ photo paper is too small to see any details, but I will print a few of this size for quick references and they are small enough to carry in my purse for when I want to draw-on-the-go.

I have a lot of tropical fish pictures I have taken from my snorkeling adventures in the Caribbean.  I thought today would be a good time to get out my graphite pencils and do a drawing of a Blue Tang:


Drawing with graphite pencils is my first choice and favorite art medium to use.  I do like to experiment with color and I am still learning to use my color pencils.  I am also glad to have had the opportunity to experiment with color pencils in my Drawing Explorations class back in May.  I thought it would be a great idea to redraw my Blue Tang drawing in color:


This drawing is still a work in progress.

Here’s another drawing in the works:


Papers used:  Canson Sketch paper

Drawing Explorations: Colored Pencils

Of all the drawing mediums I have used, colored pencils is a hard one for me to use.  I have no idea why.  I love working with colors when I’m mixing paint (watercolor, oils, and acrylics).  Colored pencils have me stumped.

Before class started, Emily told me to pick an object.  Since I love the Caribbean and all things beach-related, I chose a shell.  It looked like an easy object to draw.  I struggled for the first 30 minutes.  I could see the shape in front of me and I drew it.  It turned out wonky.  Colored pencils are hard to erase, so I reworked some of the lines and then reshaped the shell.  Good thing I selected a light colored pencil to do the initial sketch.

Emily told me to squint a few times and I should see some colors pop out (other than the basic off white/light beige color I could clearly see).  So I squinted and produced this drawing:


I then added the blue shading/shadows under the shell and all of a sudden my shell was no longer floating on my paper.  It had a home.

This was the last evening for my Drawing Explorations class.  I have signed up for another class which involves using charcoal.  In the meantime, I will be posting pictures of my personal homework assignments.  Stay tuned!

Paper used:  Canson sketch paper (18″ x 24″)

My take away from class:  need to stop over analyzing what I see.  I can tell the longer I stare at my blank paper the longer it takes to get started.