Sunday, May 29, 2011

Farmhouse Wedding

Marion Farmhouse, 9x12 Soft Pastel on Pastelbord

Warm Spring days and June approaching... cue weddings, weddings and more weddings! This Spring, my daughter was flower girl twice, and we attended 3 weddings in a month! My cousin was married in April on a beautiful family farm in Perry County (Marion, Alabama to be precise) on the steps of the old farmhouse.

What better way to commemorate the day and make a unique gift than a portrait of the wedding location! If you are searching for the perfect wedding (or anniversary!) gift for your friends, your family, your spouse, or yourself, send me the photo of your wedding location and I will turn it into a lasting piece of art!

Visit for pricing and more information.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Stipple Paper by Bee Paper

Smooth, sandy, rough, scratchy, thick, thin...and stippled! As I've said many times before, there is a plethora of pastel surfaces and textures upon which great art can be made. The newest paper sample I've tried is from Bee Paper Company and is called "Stipple Paper," thanks to my friends at Forstall Art Center. The paper feels smooth and slick to the touch, with a finely pebbled surface. I decided to try a small portrait with several types of pastels to get a good feel for this new texture.

Here is my result:

5x51/2 Soft Pastel on Stipple Paper

I used five types of pastels: my usual favorite, the very soft Sennelier Pastels; the slightly harder soft pastels by Rembrandt; a variety of soft pastel pencils; a black Conte pastel; and an inexpensive set of square soft pastels.

To compare the application, on the image below I used all five: starting from the top left, the black is the square pastel, then the Sennelier in the top center, bottom right is Rembrandt, bottom left is the Conte. I sketched out the mage in a brown pastel pencil. All pastels adhered well with minimal excess dust.

I rubbed some blues in with my finger to begin the sidewalk, and filled in the black.

I finished up the piece by using Sennelier to finish the background, pastel pencils and Rembrandts for the face, Rembrandts with Sennelier highlights for the hair, and Sennelier for the shirt and clover. I was pleased with the result of the Stipple Paper and appreciate that all the types of pastel worked so well. I also enjoyed the sleek yet pebbled texture, and prefer it over the spotty texture you get from a traditional piece of pastel paper, such as Canson or Mi Tientes. From a sillier place in my mind, I like the paper because of its name..."Stipple Paper"...its just fun to say!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Village Art Festival

About a week ago, on that unusually cold Southern Spring weekend, I participated in the first Village Art Festival at Brookwood Mall in Birmingham, Alabama. Wonderfully organized by the Birmingham Art Association and the mall, for me the show was a success. My booth was full of art and placed outside, across from restaurants and a flowing fountain.

As "supervisor" of the Kids Zone, I have to brag on the organizers whose creativity and forethought set up the best and smoothest kid's art area I have ever seen. The families who participated had a blast, and were very excited to take home their own art supplies!

My large pastel "Shepherd's Hut" finally found a home, and I made lots of great connections to other artists and art lovers.

I also acquired a sample of pastel cloth to experiment with, courtesy of a new friend whose art will be highlighted in a post to come!

A second show is being planned for next year...I recommend participation to artists and the public!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Colourfix Suede

Recently my friends at Forstall Art Supply gave me a sample of the very new pastel paper Colourfix Suede to try out. At first touch, it feels like a smooth suede, as the name suggests, very different from the rough sanded textures I usually choose. 

My first experience with the paper showed me that certain pastels and techniques work better than others. Using very soft Sennelier pastels, I found that the softer, creamier pastels adhere better than harder pastels; a lighter touch yields better results than my usual heavy-handed layering.

4 1/2 x 7 soft pastel on Colourfix Suede

While it did hold layers well, more blending occurred than on sanded papers, maybe less blending than basic pastel papers (paper sans coatings). 

I had trouble getting my beloved Sennelier black pastel to adhere.

Unsatisfied with my first attempt, I did a bit of research and found that Colourfix Suede is great for the delicate Pan Pastels and fans of pastel application via soft tools and fingers (toothier surfaces can irritate fingers and damage applicators). Pastel pencils are also supposed to work well on the fine surface. Because the suede surface is applied to a watercolor paper, an underpainting (using paint to create a colored base for the pastel piece) is said to work well on this paper. 

With this new information, I tried a second piece, using several techniques and types of pastels.

4x4 Soft Pastel on Colourfix Suede

For the sky I applied the pastel with my fingers, rubbing the Sennelier pastel color onto the paper. This is as close as I could get to a Pan Pastel application. Again, the creamier pastels transferred more color. I used pastel pencils and Rembrandt pastels for the landscape. The pencils went on the paper well, and I was very surprised at how much color adhered with the Rembrandts, which are a harder pastel and usually not my favorite. The black went on darkly like I wanted, even over layers of pastel. On this paper, I would definitely reach for my Rembrandts!

As usual, I will say that all surfaces, pastels and combinations of the two yield different results. If you want a paper that will hold layers and result in a creamy, smooth painting, this paper is for you! If I use this paper in the future, I will draw with Rembrandt pastels and save my Senneliers for my sanded papers and boards.

Colourfix Suede is available in 6 colors, and black and white.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cecily Hill Lowe...Chill Art

Check out the acrylic abstract art by Birmingham artist, and one of my sweet friends, Cecily Hill Lowe! She uses acrylic wash on watercolor paper and canvas, and they range in size from tiny to large. Visit her site at Chill Art to see her many beautiful paintings!