Pastel Demo on Bark Paper – The Block-In

First I will mass-in the darks. As I said before, the Mexican Bark Paper wants to hang on to dark marks, so I was careful at the edges of shapes to re-evaluate angles before committing them to a darker tone. I went back and forth numerous times checking the angles of the left and right sides of the wooden tray…mostly second guessing myself about my decision to have my vanishing point located behind the cork in the lid of the bottle on the right. In the end, the paper was unforgiving about any ideas I entertained to change this vanishing point. So, onward and upward.

You might think that blocking-in a painting would be an easy, liberating and mindless step in the painting process. Your sketch is in. Just color inside the lines. Right? Nooooo! Each step in the painting process is an opportunity for re-evaluating and fine tuning your work to align with your intended purpose. Purpose? Do I HAVE to have a purpose? Hmmm.. a proverb comes to mind.

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.  – Proverbs 29:18

Allow me to paraphrase:

Where there is no plan, the artist will fail: but he who takes the time to rightly apply their knowledge of perspective, value, composition, color theory and other laws of artistic craftsmanship will be happy.

So, as I mass-in the darks, I take the opportunity to double check my drawing as I go. The visual effect of the dark shapes next to the light shapes exposes drawing errors, so I tweak the drawing when discrepancies appear. There aren’t many dark shapes. This will be a mostly light filled piece. Remember, my initial plan was to retain as much of the paper as possible to act as the lights in the piece and show off the lovely swirls of the bark pulp in the paper. This will mostly be evident in the background where I have made sure not to leave smudge marks as I add the darks.

At this point, I am noticing that the bark paper is not going to hold very many layers of pastel. Its soft surface is more prone to being embossed than holding more pigment. As I press to get a darker mark, this sturdy paper simply compresses and fuzzes up a bit. The fuzzing is not a problem….yet!

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Next post: Refining the Darks

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