I see Arches Cold Press in Your Future...

"Esmeralda" 9 x 12 Chalk Pastel on Paper
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I've always had a fascination with gypsies (or at least their outfits)...one of my favorites is Esmeralda, the fortuneteller in the machine in front of the arcade at Disneyland. She looks especially interesting at night, with all of the lights around her.

For this piece I broke out the Arches Cold Press watercolor paper-- I enjoy blending the chalk pastel with water, and this type of paper really lets that combination shine. I blocked in my painting with strong pastel strokes, using bright colors. Instead of smearing with my fingers, as I usually do, I used a brush and a small cup of water. I learned this time that it's best to use a stronger brush-- the brush I was using was made for Chinese caligraphy, and not at all helpful with the "bubbles" that formed when the water hit the chalk. Still, a little patience went a long way in carefully blending the water and chalk throughout the piece.

There were a few scary moments when I got a little too much water on the paper, and had to lift it off with a paper towel for fear of making "mud" and losing my values. I let the painting dry flat, and went back over it with a new layer of chalk. It was quite dark after the addition of water, and I have to confess that Esmeralda went through an awkward stage of looking more like Jack Sparrow than a gypsy woman. A fresh layer of light colors (this time smeared lightly by hand) fixed that, and she was herself again by the end of the piece.

I was pretty happy with the end result in this one-- I've been getting frustrated with my work lately and haven't felt like posting it. I think giving myself a little time to evaluate this piece and work carefully helped, as did focusing on a subject I truly enjoyed.

To see more California scenes done on Arches Cold Press with water, click here:


  1. I love this! When are we going to see one of the bubba?


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