First time pastel portrait

Last Wednesday was literally the first time out of the box for my new Rembrandt 30-chalk pastel for portrait set. I soon had several epiphanies.

  • The “portrait set” doesn’t contain any dark values. I can’t seem to get a full value range with the colors available, unless I use black. I can’t seem to mix the pastels the way I can mix watercolor to create a dark value. Chris Saper, in her book Painting Beautiful Skin Tones with Color & Light, recommends adding some darker value pastels to the portrait sets available on the market.
  • Every color in the box does not have to be used. In fact, it shouldn’t be. I should use some kind of intelligence when I choose colors, and not just grab blindly. This means I’m going to have to spend some time making color and value studies with the chalk. Duh. And perhaps then I’ll figure out a way to mix some darker values.
  • Rapid execution does not preclude accuracy. Nor does a more relaxed pace enable accuracy. Oddly, the drawing at the top of this post is a 20 minute drawing, the drawing at the bottom is a 60 minute (3-20 minute sittings) drawing. I like the drawing from the shorter pose—it’s more like the model, has more life, more grace, and more elegance. The “long” pose drawing makes me cringe. Dull, clunky, not only unlike the model, but really unlike anything alive. Yuck.
  • Learning how to draw portraits is going to take some time. Doing the work is going to be what moves me forward.

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