I attended a pastel demo by Bob Rohm on July 19. In two hours, he talked, gave tips, answered questions, and completed a beautiful landscape all the way from drawing, block-in, and wash to a perfect finish. This poor quality, cell phone photo does not do it justice.
These are my notes; I think they are accurate but apologize if I misinterpreted anything. Check out Bob's website; - and I highly recommend his book, The Painterly Approach, available on Amazon and ArtistsNetwork.
Landscape: cliff with shallow water river. Cliff is brightly lit, trees on top of cliff. Reference photo in black and white, as well as color.
Setup: mounted Wallis paper clipped to a sturdy support, with cardboard folded underneath to catch pastel dust. French easel. First, decide on eye level of viewer, to indicate horizon line.
Drew the large profile masses with a tan/sienna Nu-Pastel, using a very light touch. Using the same pastel, he indicated the darker areas with a little more pressure.
Still using the same pastel, on the cliff, he used a light touch to block in midtone areas, using the point of pastel, then massed in the darks with side strokes and heavier pressure. All of the massing is done in a thin layer of hard pastel to get an idea of where the composition is going. Nothing detailed. Refine as you go.
Decide on what is most important section. In this painting, it was not the water reflections but the light on the cliff wall. There’s lots of water in lower area of painting; “if it works, fine, if not, I’ll just cut it off.”
Block-in: Light salmon color for lights, dark green for trees, dark red for the darks in water, medium turquoise for blue of water, dark purple at bottom of tree line.
For alcohol wash, best to use a soft brush. For water or mineral spirits, use a stubby cut-down hardware brush. Alcohol tends to soften the glues so brush gently. With water or mineral spirits, can scrub aggressively. Alcohol darkens. Water/mineral spirits lighten when dry.
Bob Rohm procedure: Look for extremes: darkest dark, lightest light, most intense color, sharpest or most dominant edge. Establish those with local color pastels, then nothing else will be darker, lighter, more intense or sharper.
Put 3 or 4 colors of the same value in hand: how do they look next to one another; if it work here, it will work in painting.
Reflections in water: duller, cooler, less rich. Must be directly below object. A dark object will reflect lighter, a light object will reflect darker.
He works on the center of interest almost exclusively at the beginning, almost to a finish before continuing on the extremes.
Sky meeting tree line has a coolness because of the green tree light bouncing up.
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