Number 4 of 10 Reasons to Love Pastel: Push-Pull

"Hippie Flowers"
6 x 9 inch pastel on drawing paper
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December usually isn't the best time for me-- everything seems to hit the fan mid-month, leaving me exhausted (and this time sick) by the time the holidays are over.  These little flowers cheered me up as I worked on them (I called them "Hippie Flowers" because they reminded me of something from the sixties).

In spite of that, I've been working for a while on a few pieces to demonstrate one of my favorite elements of painting with pastel: the delicate push-pull between the soft, blended areas and the bolder, harder lines and strokes.

One of the most relaxing things I can think of to do is to smear a pastel painting. In my first pastel classes, we learned to block in areas of color and smear the painting as a whole to achieve that soft background effect unique to pastel.  After a layer of fixative (if desired), we would then go back over the piece, adding textured strokes and harder edges. 

I can appreciate both the soft, blended look of pastel as well as the broken color or hard line techniques different artists use.  To me, a skillfully done pastel has elements of both, engaging the viewer's eyes in a dance as they move between the softer, undefined areas and the sharper, strongly defined sections of the painting.
"A Walk at Eli's"
9 x 12 inch pastel on paper
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I painted the above piece from a photo I took on my daughter's field trip to Eli's Farm in Fallbrook, California.  It's a local farm that grows organic produce, and might just have the best strawberries I've ever tasted.  They've also got chickens and turkeys; however, being a squeamish vegetarian, I didn't ask what they do with them.

Visit my "Recent Artwork" gallery to see more of my pastels!

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