This painting, With a View, is painted with the relatively new type of super soft pastel that doesn't come as a stick, but in a pan, looking much like a large eyeshadow pan. It is developed by an artist, and you can read more about them at the PanPastel
The painting is entered in a competition, The First Annual Arts Autumn Challenge and Competition on Facebook, of which I do not know the outcome yet. I had very little time to paint this third entry in the competition, so I chose the quick Pans for it. I have the 20 piece Colour Set. That means 18 colours plus white and black.
The paper I think works absolutely best with PanPastels is Clairefontaine PastelMat Card (more info at their American site
, and their European site
. Page 160 in the catalogue.) It feels rather smooth in texture, but when trying it, you're in for a surprise -- it holds on to the pastel dust very hard, and allows for multiple layers. No finger blending is even possible in the first layers of PanPastel pigment. For this sunny painting, I chose a buttercup yellow PastelMat. (See the colour in the bottom strip of the image below.)
My technique involves layering, so I started with blocking in the large masses (areas) of light and shadow in the colour of light -- warms for the light, cools for the shadows. The yellow support helped a lot, as it autmatically gave the glowing warmth of yellow sunlight to the sheer PanPastel layers (I was in a hurry, remember, and this saved me one layer). I used a large sponge to apply the colours, and let edges overlap. (Left image below.) No fussing at this stage, and a large sponge (just like a large brush) will keep you away from painting details. There are at least two colours in each of the major masses, usually more, and as you see I've already started the gradation of the sky. Because I layer, I sprayed the painting with a workable fixative for pastels that doesn't change the colours.
In the picture to the right, I'm finished with the sky and the far background. I've worked in some colour variations to hint at three-dimensional forms in the far trees, but let the land-masses on the other shore of the lake be mostly silhouettes. I've also pushed the illusion of depth in the red earth newly sown field, both in light and in the foreground shadow with colour variations (cools recede, warms come forward).
The 'skeleton' trunks and limbs of the trees (saplings is maybe a better word) show how I first tried to paint them in with one of the Sofft tools looking like a painting knife with a spongy sock on it. I didn't like the look of the thinner parts at the top, so I decided to try another method. Some of the sponges have sharp edges, so I touched the edge to the black pigment and a deeper red earth one, and lightly touched it to the paper in the rightmost small sapling. Hm! I liked the result, and included the curved tipped of the otherwise straight sponge, and got some nicely curving tiny limbs. For the long limb reaching left, which was to be an important part of the composition, I used the same method, but also squeezed the sponge out of shape to make an instant irregular limb. Worked like a charm! I added lights to the 'skeleton' the same way. Pure magic.
For the finish, I worked in slivers of light in the foreground, and added texture. The foliage is 'dabbed' in with various sponges, using their corners and wedge shapes, squishing and twisting the sponges to get a varied look to the marks. Being in a great hurry, it was wonderful to be able to get it all down so quickly. No careful aiming of the sponge, just an impressionist feel of leafs that may flutter if there is a wind. To add more variation, I went over the parts of foliage that were not to be of primary interest with a sponge with a rounded tip, and used one of the painting knifes to soften edges where needed.
The highest contrast, that is, the lightest light, the darkest dark, and the brightest colours were painted in with the most sharp wedge shapes around the area where the trunks of the trees go into the stony and grassy bit of ground sticking out into the field. These trees chose a beautiful Spot With a View to grow.
This painting almost "painted itself", with no laboured effort from my part. Which was great, as I entered it in the competition 32 minutes before deadline!
For a larger version, click here