On the Drawing Board: Focus Pocus

Whenever I feel intimidated by a painting I'm working on, I have to let the left side take over for a moment and get logical about it. 

I need to stop feeling overwhelmed by all that needs to be done, and just break it down into sections. I treat the sections as little paintings of their own. 

Doing this allows me to focus better, to get into the zone, to concentrate on one small area, really fleshing it out with detail. I just have to be careful that each section then matches the same tone, color, and level of detailing for an overall cohesiveness. 

On the drawing board: The right size tool for the job.

Often the tools of the artist are whatever happens to be handy.  When the circles on your plastic geometry template aren't big enough you have to search around for something else to use.  Roll of tape?..coffee cup?...too big.  Skin cream lid?...too small.  Finally I found the perfect size ring right there in my nightstand. I think some of you know what it is. 

On the Drawing Board: raw and unblended.

While I make an effort to post 'in progress' photos of what I'm working on, I usually take them after I'm done working for the day, or have completed a section I am working on.  It's usually a moment where I'm satisfied with how it looks, but this doesn't show what goes on in between.  

So, here's a pic (on the left) that shows the first things I do when I start a section, in this case the upper part of the face. I already worked on the eye a bit.  I take my pastels and fill in with a base layer of colors, they are just scribbled on, no blending.  This gives me a foundation to work from, I guess it's similar to doing make-up.  From here I'll blend them together with my fingers.  I'll then add other colors on top, and blend those in, creating more depth, subtleties in lighting, and more tones.  Even when I think it looks done, it doesn't mean I wont go back and add/blend in more colors.  That's one of the things I like about working with pastels, the surface is always workable, unlike paints in an acrylic or oil suspension that will dry.

On the Drawing Board: Adding 'depth of flavor'

I'd say about 98% of my pieces have faces.  Facial expressions capture focus set the tone of the painting. It's also where I begin my pieces.  The face is usually so crucial since it's where I can best ensure to evoke the emotions I want.  So when I approach a piece that has no facial expressions the other elements and body language have to carry that burden.  It also pushes me to add interest to some of those elements, as in the case of these white briefs.  Making them slightly pulled down and slightly translucent adds, to borrow a cooking term, 'depth of flavor'.