I did this fish quite some days ago in a phase where I focused on oil pastels. I had no photo reference, just a vague idea and a lust for slinging colours.
Now that November has gone and the end of the year is approaching very fast it is the time to look back on 2013. The first half of the year was dedicated to prepare my first group art show, which not only meant producing the paintings I had to show but also thinking about frames and mats. All my exhibits were done with coloured pencils.
In October I bought Neocolors II, the watersoluble crayons from Caran d’Ache and played around with them. And I rediscovered my oil pastels, as you can see in the painting above. At the same time, however, I went digital again with Inkscape and did some vector pieces. I learnt a lot about gradients, opacity and blurs, and how to make a drawing look three dimensional.
In the end, I found out one thing: Whether I draw and paint with pencils, crayons or oil pastels or whether I do it digitally I want to tell stories with my art, and I want to do this in a way where the beholder looks at the piece and invents his or her own story which can be very different from the story which another person looking at the same piece will see in the painting.
I might be tempted to not only draw and paint but also tell a story going with the illustration. Maybe this is something I could do in 2014…
It took some courage for me to publish that oil pastel painting–it looks like a kindergarten painting to me. But I also feel that it is important to document the level I’m on. I had no reference for it, just an idea, inspired by the three words “golden”, “carnival” and “festive”.
I admit that I had fun doing it, although that fun was mixed with massive self-doubt. And I decided to continue to practise with my “oilies”, even if that meant feeling insecure and out of my comfort zone.
This is not finished yet. I saw those nice little stretched canvases and decided to have a go at them with my oil pastels. I am using Jaxon oil pastels, a brand which is very popular in Germany and quite cheap. I’d bought them some time ago because I didn’t know whether I would like them or not. It was at a time when my “art career” had just begun, tried one or two pieces and stopped using them because I could not go into detail with them. I also was not much experienced with colours.
Now, some time later, I rediscovered them. In the meantime I’d bought some paper tortillons and now I am using them to fill out all the tiny white specks. I haven’t progressed very far on the canvas yet, as you can see. I also found out the difference between the rather hard Jaxon pastels and the neopastels made by Caran d’Ache. They are so much creamier and softer!
Here I applied the Neocolor II first as a kind of underlayer, and then added some oil pastels here and there, I used watercolour paper as a support.
I created that out of my imagination. I had a devil /daemon / dangerous being in mind, coming out of the dark blue and suddenly being hit by the light. Okay, the dark blue isn’t dark enough, and the light is not light enough, but that’s due to my weaknesses in dealing with the oil pastels.
And the scanner is mercyless. Just now I am looking at the painting, and now I see all the white specks which of course shouldn’t be there. But I had fun doing it, and I’ve got the feeling that I am on my way.
This oil pastel piece is based on a photo reference from the Reference Image Library on Wet Canvas.
The more I do with my “oilies” the more I like them!
I did this after having thrown the piece before that into the trash can. It is like when you have been thrown off a horse: go and get on it again as soon as possible! I seldom throw a piece away, but the one I am speaking off hurt my eyes whenever I looked at it, and gave me the feeling of utter incapability.
I had a photo reference from the RIL on WetCanvas uploaded by Crias for the hornbill, which helped. I put the pastel paper on a rather hard cardboard this time which seemed to keep the oil pastels from crumbling too much. And I cleaned the oil pastels after blending with them very carefully with a paper towel and did the same with the paper stumps.
You wouldn’t call a hornbill a pretty bird, but they have a lot of personality!
I am still exploring the world of oil pastels (called ops or oilies). When I say exploring I mean actually experimenting, painting, doing colour swatches, and I mean reading posts on Wet Canvas, or looking at other people’s art. It is amazing what can be done with oil pastels!
Wet Canvas has got a monthly Challenge in its oil pastels forum. And I did it – I decided to participate in the April challenge with this fish. The original photo looks quite different, but I took my artistic licence with it, especially regarding the background and the colours of the fish.
This time I did a colour swatch with all my red shades before doing the actual drawing. And it helped a lot, because you have to see the colours on the paper in order to decide which one to take.
I think I will continue with these kind of studies for a while, just to get familiar with my new oil pastels.
This is not an art piece. I am not presenting it because I think it’s good. I am presenting this piece because I want to learn from my failures.
With this piece I learnt several things:
- You can shade by using a darker pastel over the lighter one. You can then leave the strokes as they are or blend them with a paper stump (or your fingers).
- When you use a paper stump you have to be very careful to use a clean one. Otherwise you get mud instead the lovely colour you are wanting to achieve.
- When shading you have to be sure where the light comes from and then continue to shade in the same direction.
- Imagination is fine, but doing a pencil sketch before painting with the oil pastels is not bad at all. It might be helpful for getting a decent composition.