Painting Fast and Loose with Pastel (Egyptian Jug)

"Egyptian Jug" (9 x 10.5 Chalk Pastel on Paper)
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There are three big reasons I love using chalk pastels: bright colors, versatility, and convenience. I've been having trouble getting myself to the paint board lately, and when I do, I have trouble liking what I see when the work is finished. I'm finding that the more difficult and complicated life gets, the more stripped down and simple the subjects I am painting...

For this piece, I took a piece of lightly toned Canson Mi Teintes paper (9 x 12) and made a light sketch of the shapes I wanted. In order to focus on what I was painting, I turned the reference photo and paper upside down, offering my right brain a chance to take over. I don't like to get too dependent on this trick, but I figured it would take my mind off the barrage of problems I've been worried about. It worked, and I got the basic shape down without interruption. I then flipped it back over and began blocking in lights and darks, working quickly and using a lot of broken color. I left some of the paper untouched for the lighter parts of the jug.

With a little smearing (not too much, so I could keep some of the brighter colors) and a few sharp edges, the piece was finished. I did cheat a little and crop it so that the jug shifted more to the left, so the size ended up closer to 9 x 1o or 11. The whole thing took about a half hour. I would love to find more time to get out those acrylics or mix some media, but am grateful I have that ready supply of pastels to keep me going in difficult times. I've also found that painting with time constraints forces me to focus on the important parts of the picture and get it done, rather than muddle around and never finish the piece.

As a side note, I just realized why this piece makes me smile-- it reminds me (I have no idea why) of the bratty sugar bowl in the Disney movie The Sword in the Stone. It looks like it's going to wobble around and give me a hard time.

To see more Egyptian inspired art, click here:


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