Drawing in Pencil
During a shopping mall visit, I stopped at a store that happened to have two small soft cover art instruction books that I decided to purchase: "Drawing in Pencil" and "Painting in Pastels." My plan was to have them on hand for looking through on my next vacation from my secretarial job.
I had experience with drawing in pencil in some of my art classes in high school, but it was just lightly touched upon. Perusing this book in the store, it revealed some fascinating pencil techniques that I wanted to explore.
Why I purchased the pastel book, I am not certain. I was impressed by the paintings in the book, but the one time I attempted a painting in pastel some years earlier, I decided to never work in this medium again.
My first exposure to working with pastel was for an art class assignment to draw a portrait of a classmate while they drew you. My likeness was fine, but I found the medium thick and heavy on the drawing paper we normally worked with charcoal on. The second time I worked with pastel was in doing a sitting of a friend at my church. I had bought graphic pastel and the drawing paper as used in school, but the pastel did not move or come off easily on the paper. What a struggle. This was enough for me never to use it again.
The Drawing that Began It All
An opportunity finally presented itself for me to try the techniques in the "Drawing in Pencil" book to draw a face -- my favorite subject. I had practiced one technique with drawing an egg, but that was as far as I had gotten. I was looking at the composite of one of the parent's children at the private elementary school where I worked as the executive secretary to the headmistress.
During a bowling session, in between turns, I created the drawing from the composite with the pencils as recommended in the "Drawing with Pencil" book. I found it very enlightening and enjoyable.
The Gifts of Pastels
Next, I received two sets of 12 piece pastels -- one colors and one earth tones from co-workers who knew me as an artist, while working as a secretary. The funny thing about receiving these pastels, the only type of art they knew me for was working with graphics for flyers and other comunication pieces. I put them on a shelf, but wondered if I should give them away since I did not plan to use this medium ever again.
The Portrait Painting that Began It All
By January 1990, I was self-employed and starting a Special Events Planning business. For my first presentation, I was impressed of the Lord, to include the pencil drawing of the young boy in the hat. Though portraits were not initially among my events planning services, it seemed reasonable that there may be occasions where a portrait might be used as a gift or presentation piece and I could provide this too.
I was making a presentation to the teaching staff where my sister worked. After the session, I had two orders: note paper with the individuals name lettered and a portrait of the son of another individual.
The woman wanted the portrait taken from a photo she had of her young son wearing an arglye sweater, in color, large, and his hands did not need to be included in the portrait. The normal portraits I was accustomed to were worked large but in charcoal and as head and shoulder vignettes. What came to mind was the book I bought, "Painting with Pastel" and the two box sets of pastels on my shelf since she wanted color and I knew my works in acrylics were not my best medium for faces.
Looking through the "Painting with Pastel," I discovered a new surface I could try using: velour paper. I liked the samples shown in the book using this surface. I also had experienced drawing paper and was not that happy with my results using it with pastel. I also learned that one of my problems with the portrait I had done that I struggled with was partly because of working with hard graphic pastel on paper. Soft pastels were the medium mentioned in the book was also what I had been given and was on my shelf just waiting to be used.
What a difference and a pleasant surprise and from my previous pastel experience. It made creating the portrait a true delight! Since I was unfamiliar with the medium and the surface, I patterned this first portrait and the next portrait order along the suggested painting in strokes like a paint brush effect as the author of the "Painting with Pastel" book suggested. (See the two portraits with this style.)
By the third portrait order, I decided to try blending techniques as I had enjoyed using with working in charcoal. My own particular style was now able to emerge.