Monday, October 25, 2010

nocturne-pastel, plein air night tips

pastel on very thick twinrocker paper-a warm tone..maybe sand
With my mini reading light in hand and the evening weather delightful, I decided to work plein air. Not being able to see made my decisions quick and small. I think this pastel took 15 minutes. It's about 9x9 inches.
Four tips:
* Keep your pastels in order so when you can't see you know where they are (no wolves in sheep's clothing!)
* The darks are very dark, but more interesting if they have color, not black.
*When choosing darks you choose from a family. A nocturne is often blue...or violet.  They are typically cool, but I have seen warm ones that are beautiful. (Rules are meant to be broken)
*The differences you make in the land are more about temperature shifts not value. This will be more evident in the oil I have been working on, using this as a study.
I am using rag paper and no watercolor... it's faster and more immediate. I have found that if I rub the pastel in deep I can layer a lot. It also allows me to be bolder with my mark...calm sections and sections with exciting calligraphy.


Brian McGurgan said...

Beautiful nocturne, Loriann - I love the spontaneous sense of energy in your strokes here and the nice things that are happening with color and temperature. I've also found that rubbing in the first layer or two of pastel is a really effective way of building richness of color on non-abrasive surfaces. I used to think of these as "dry washes" of color like in watercolor painting but have moved away mentally from that thought since I now see the technique as more akin to underpainting in oils - dark to light and all of that... The Twinrocker paper holds up really well to rubbing (some softer papers start to fuzz and get worn). I often use chamois for the earth tone rubbings I've been using as underpaintings on many pastels lately but have also begun using wide color shaper tools with soft tips, and sometimes fall back on paper towel where I want to leave as little pastel as possible, rubbing down to pastel-tinted paper. I usually spray with fixative before starting to layer over the rubbed underpainting. What are you using to rub in the pastel? Do you fix the underpainting?

Donna T said...

Gorgeous nocturne, Loriann! It seems like the fairly simple composition makes the colors stand out even more. Thanks for the great tips! If I don't rub in the darks and spritz them with alcohol I can't judge the rest of the values because of the white paper speckles showing through. This would drive me nuts in a nocturne with lots of areas that need to be completely dark!

Melinda said...

Stunning work, Loriann. Every time I visit, I am in awe of the work you do.

I love the rough texture in this nocturne. It's full of energy while the light maintains unity and calm.

loriann said...

Hi Brian!
Thank you for your generous compliment!
As for rubbing and color, it's something I am experimenting with. In the past I have learned to never rub-keep my fingers out of it. (Although, in an under layer I have rubbed a little with pipe insulation. The watercolor underpaintings made that easier to do. Now as I play with different ways to work on different surfaces, rubbing keeps coming forward. I need to experiment even more with fixative use as I have done so in a limited fashion- basically only to add more color when i have already placed so much. What do I use to rub? Whatever is available- in these it was my fingers doing the job. I have used paper towels and waxed paper. When I work on sanded paper I use only pipe insulation since other things easily leave their tracks. I do like twinrocker paper as well. What colors do you like best? Somerset is good too..much more plush. I have read your page on papers- very interesting. What is your all time fave paper now?

loriann said...

Hi Donna and thank you! What kind of paper are you using when you spritz with alcohol?

Hi Melinda! Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.Your word made my day!

Donna T said...

Loriann, I've been using Rives BFK. I need to open the pack of Heavyweight BFK I ordered and see how it behaves. Hopefully it will stand up to more rubbing and spritzing!

loriann said...

hmmm, bfk and alcohol, i didn't know that would be a match!

lala said...

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Brian McGurgan said...

Hi Loriann. I haven't used Somerset before and will have to give it a try. I'm due for a trip downtown soon to New York Central Art Supply and can probably get it there. I really love a number of the Twinrocker papers and have been using several that I have on hand most often: May Linen, Willow Creek Dark, Etherington Blue, and Sagebrush Dark are current favorites. Sometimes I feel pulled toward working on light cream-colored papers and then I choose the May Linen, Buff, or Calligraphy Cream. I also like Twinrocker Simon's Green for a cooler but light tone. I've been using the darker shades for plein air work often since then I feel somewhat less inclined to do as much rubbing and will let the tone of the paper show through where pastel hasn't covered. Other favorites these days include the heavily textured dark gray, handmade pastel paper from Larroque and Cartiera Magnani's soft, cream-colored handmade Velata paper. The Larroque paper is great for strokes of broken color because of its coarse texture, while the more even-textured Velata takes fewer layers of pastel but is very receptive to underpaintings of rubbed pastel.