Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 10

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 10


            More of the background is in now, but progress is slow because of the area being covered. This is where soft pastels are a distinct advantage. The background, especially the entertainment center, will not be very detailed, so pencils play a minor role. They can be used to finish up and firm up after the soft pastels have established the base colors. The trouble is I didn’t have the necessary colors for the entertainment center in soft pastels. I have ordered them and they should arrive in a week or so.

I did have soft pastels that could provide base color for the rug and, between the pencils and the soft pastels, I could complete the rug. The floor, being relatively small in area, could be completed with the pencils.

The base color of the rug was achieved by combining the Holbein yellow ochre, burnt umber and van dyke brown, Sennelier 131 (golden ochre), 124 (brown ochre) and 115 (yellow ochre). I applied the colors with the sticks and then blended them by finger. The colors were added and blended a little at a time, adjusting as I went until I was satisfied with the color and tone. On top of the base color I used pencils to indicate the pattern. The red design was achieved with PP 193 (burnt carmine), darkened with PP 280 (burnt umber) and PP 169 (caput mortuum). The green in the rug came from PP 173 (olive green yellowish) and PP 174 (chrome green opaque). PP 280 (burnt umber) was also used to darken the color along the edge.

The wood flooring has rich browns and reds, and also has some sheen, which allows for reflections. PP 169 (caput mortuum), PP 280 (burnt umber), PP 187(burnt ochre) and CO 625 (burnt umber). I created the reflection under Peaches’s right back foot by combining CO ivory, PP caput mortuum, and then darkening a bit with PP burnt umber.

On the original photo, in the background, behind the couch, curtains and the entertainment center is a French door with lites. The photo was taken during the daytime, so a lot of light from outside can be seen through the glass. I felt the light color was distracting, competing with the center of interest – Peaches. At first I wasn’t quite sure how I would treat that area, but decided to keep the background dark. I used PP 280 (burnt umber and CO 625 (burnt umber) to achieve that dark color.

You no doubt noticed that the entire background is predominantly the same brown colors. It was both fortuitous, as most appeared that way naturally, and by design, to have Peaches, with her lighter colors, the center of attention. She easily stands

IMG_1971 Peaches Update 10


Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 9

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 9

Nearly finished with Peaches, herself. I will need to do more blending of the colors, more work on further defining the fur, further work on highlights and details., but it seems to be coming together. I’ve been working over the fur with CO dark ochre, ivory and golden ochre light, and PP brown ochre and burnt umber. The darkest shadows were taken care of with PP burnt umber, but it was used sparingly. Much of the fur work was accomplished with PP brown ochre and CO ivory, first working in lighter shadows and indications of hair with the brown ochre, then softening it with ivory and stroking in some hairs with the ivory also. CO dark ochre was used to darken the brown ochre, again blending it in and also stroking in suggestions of hair. I continually sharpened the points with a razor blade, and that enabled me to draw in lines.

More of the background was added in also, giving more of a feeling that Peaches was someplace, not just a vignette. I blocked in more of the entertainment center using Holbein burnt umber 1 and raw sienna 1, along with PP burnt umber and dark sepia, to get the real dark darks. Some PP 184, dark naples ochre was used to start some highlights on the entertainment center.

A little bit of the rug has been indicated as well. For that I used PP 174 chrome green opaque and 193 burnt carmine.


I find the Carb Othello pencils to be a little bit softer than the Pitt Pastels and, I think, because of that, maybe a little easier to draw in lines indicating hair.

IMG_1969 Update 9


Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 8

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 8

            As I sit here in my kitchen this morning, writing my latest update, looking out into my back yard, it’s pouring outside. We’re under a severe thundershower threat. I welcome the rain, however. I like rain. In addition to loving art, I’m a gardener, too – have been for many decades. All the plants in our garden – the Azaleas, the Camellias, the Andromedas and the Hydranges – can use the water. Although we’re in the midst of an El Nino, here where I live, we haven’t received a great deal of rainfall yet this winter.

I’m also sitting in my kitchen writing this, rather than in my den, because we’re in the midst of house training a new member of the family – Heidi – a beautiful little cocker spaniel girl. She’s chocolate and tan, with interesting tan eyebrows – and light, blue green eyes. We’ve got the kitchen blocked off to keep track of her until she’s trained. She’s a good for us, keeping us from dwelling on the loss of Peaches, and we’re forming a bond – a long one – we hope.

IMG_1928 HeidiHeidi


Now, to Update 8 of the portrait of Peaches. The portrait is taking shape, as I’ve gotten more of the details in. I’m keeping sharp points on the pastel pencils now, sharpening them often with a single edge razor blade. Using a sharp point, I drew in the fur details over the entire body, and then started working in the details. Three dimensional form is now becoming evident. At this stage I’m working in details of the fur. I’ll put in some darks using a combination of Carb Othello (CO) dark ochre, Pitt Pastel (PP) burnt umber and a bit of PP caput mortuum here and there to define the masses. Within the masses, impressions of hair is stroked in with PP brown ochre, CO dark ochre, and highlights with CO ivory and white. I’ve also introduced CO 692, golden ochre light to the fur masses, as it seems to be a good match for the lighter fur. I also use it to highlight hair strands.

At this stage the colors are just worked together, blending them to soften the look of the fur, to define edges and deep shadows, to define errant hair, and to highlight areas struck by light. Layering in the colors also eliminates the color of the paper. I also define the outer edges of the body form by deepening the background with PP burnt umber.

I’ll continue in this manner over the rest of the body, defining edges and shadows, bringing out highlights, and hinting at individual hairs here and there.

    IMG_1938 Update 8      IMG_1937 Update 8

New Colored Pencil Kit Available

Because many of my students have voiced a desire for me to make available colored pencil kits that will allow them to create colored pencil paintings in the comfort of their home, I have done so. My first kit is available here on my website and can be found by clicking on the Purchase tab, and then Kits and Tutorials from the drop down menu.

The Hydrangea Floral painting is popular with my students, so I decided to put that one together first. It is a beautiful flower and found in many gardens. In fact my wife and I have quite a few in our garden. They put on a spectacular show here in north Florida from late spring through the summer. The image for the kit comes from one of those. The colors are subtle and very beautiful. The skill level necessary for completion of the painting is beginner through intermediate.

I’ll be working on some others and will post them as soon as they are available. If there are other subjects you would like to see in kit form, please let me know.

IMG_1891 Interm Hydrangea A1A

Work In Progress: Peaches, Update 7

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 7

            More detail in the head now, and started working down the chest.

This certainly is a learning process for me. Pastels are new to me and, though I’m making progress, it’s been slow. I’m still finding my way handling this medium, especially as it relates to detail. And, I like detail. Soft pastel sticks do not lend themselves easily to great detail, at least for me, so I elected to do the main figure work with pastel pencils. The pencils are harder and can be sharpened to a point. An artist I’ve been studying for pastel pencil work is Cuong Nguyen. He is simply fabulous and his portraits can inspire any artist to do better! Check out his website and time lapse videos to see his amazing work.

Anyway, critical to detail work with pastel (as with colored pencil) is a very sharp point. I think I’ve been a little lax in that respect. That, I’ll have to work on. Another aspect is planning and drawing in detail prior to filling in color. I need to concentrate more on drawing in the line work first, just as I do with colored pencil. I alluded to the similarity between colored pencil and pastel pencils at the beginning, but somehow I failed to keep that in mind as I went forward. I blocked in areas of color first and had problems drawing in the line work on top. The blocked in color didn’t always correspond to the line work, and so I would have to work over those areas again and again. Gradually I’m getting a better feel for the medium. Again, keep a sharp point, draw in the line work and gradually fill in the color. Always keep a sharp point if you want detail. Same as colored pencil!

I’ve added some Stabilo Carb Othello pastel pencils to the mix to get the proper colors. The few basic colors I’m using now to get in the chest fur for Peaches are Carb Othello 105 (ivory), 615 (dark ochre), Faber Castell Pitt Pastel 280 (burnt umber), 169 (caput mortuum) and 182 (brown ochre).

I have to say, though, that I’m enjoying the pastel and will probably continue using it.

IMG_1935 Peaches Update 7                                   IMG_1936 Peaches Update 7

Happy New Year!

As is every Christmas and New Years is, this one has been hectic and eventful. Little time has been left for painting. My wife, and I have spent time in the mountains with our family. Some came with us – and others we visited. We have even increased our family by one member (more on that next week). For us, the mountains are at once restful and exciting. It allows us time to reflect on the incredible beauty of the natural world.   I will be back posting updates on my work in progress next week. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a great New Years!

Raine and Megan portrait

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 6

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 6

I’m making some progress on this.

Have some more detail in the face, progressing in the right direction. I added a bit of the background in  – and that is helping to define the edges of the body. Most of the background is being laid in with soft pastels, and defined a little with pastel pencils. The curtain colors so far are raw sienna and burnt umber (Sennelier).

I’m a little disappointed in my ability to get in the detail that I want with pastel, but I think that is mostly due to my learning curve with pastel, a new medium for me. I like pastel but have to get used to using it. Although the likeness is good, I want greater detail. I think I can achieve that through further refinement. The harder pastels of the pastel pencils will not easily go over the top of the soft pastels, especially when the surface is loaded with the soft pastel. The pastel pencils sort of plough through the softer pastel without producing the fine lines I want. I’m finding that, with the pastel pencils, detail can be achieved by a slow buildup of light layers of pastel, working in the detail as I go. This is very much like laying down color with colored pencils. Light layers are built up slowly, and working mostly from light to dark. Once the tooth of the paper is filled to a greater degree with pastel, it is necessary to use softer and softer pastel on top. I can’t add pastel pencil on top of many layers of soft pastel that has been built up. If I’m going to stick with pastel pencils (and I want to, at least with portraits), color must be built up slowly in light layers, mixing as I go. Using the pencils takes more planning – just as colored pencils do. With that in mind, I should be able to succeed in establishing more detail.

IMG_1923 Peaches Update 6

Work In Progress: Peaches, Update 5

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 5

More of the head is refined here. I spent more time on the eyes and nose, making more adjustments, deepening the color. Most of the work was with brown ochre (182). I used that color, with a sharp point, to define more of the hair on the right side and on the neck. The right edge of the fur along the top of Peaches’ left ear was defined more by coloring in the couch behind her. There, I used some brown ochre, burnt ochre (187), and burnt carmine (193). It’s a little too red at this point but it helps to define the edges of the ear.

The eyes received more attention in this session as well. There I used dark sepia (175), black (199) around the upper circumference of the eye, and under it, where it seems to have a bit of red color, I added some burnt carmine. The iris itself is an interesting combination of colors, and I don’t think I have it quite right yet. The colors used there are burnt umber (280), black, burnt sienna (283), a little burnt carmine and cream (102) for the lighter areas of the eyes. The pupil is black. I have a good start on the eyes but I’ll need to refine them further. I think the highlight needs to move a bit and, of course, become brighter.

The nose has much black in it, but also has some brown ochre and cream along the top. There is also some burnt umber and brown ochre on the edges of the darks.

The light areas on either side of the nose, marking the outer edges of the muzzle were first indicated with a bit of warm grey I(270), but I later added some brown ochre to color it a bit. So far, the lighter areas around the eyes and nose haven’t been filled in yet, as I wanted to get more of the defining features first.

The areas under the nose, around the mouth and the chin have some warm grey I, along with paynes grey (181) and black. I’ve also put in a bit of brown ochre. At the corners of the mouth, where the cheeks turn down there is a bit of reddish color, and there I added in some burnt sienna, along with the darker burnt umber. I haven’t worked the mouth completely yet either.

I’m working all the areas on the face, here and there, as I look to the photo reference, and as I do so, I keep checking measurements – the size of the eyes, the distance between them, their relationship to the nose. All these measurements are important and I don’t want to stray from them as I further refine the features.

IMG_1908 Peaches Update 5                           IMG_1909 Peaches Update 5

Portrait Award Announcement

I was very pleased to learn that I recently received a 1st Runner Up award for my graphite portrait of “Savannah”. A Singular Creation Art Community held a portrait competition entitled “People 7” this fall. The contest was open to all media and all styles in which the human face was portrayed in any way. Please check out the website to view all of the incredible talent displayed. And a big thank you to the judges.


IMG_1195 Savannah 8

Work In Progress: Peaches, Update 4

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 4

My stage 1 first drawing resulted in a rough block in of Peaches. From there I went back over and refined the block in by doing a second drawing over the first. I switched from light flesh used in the first drawing to van dyke brown for the second. Still checking angles and measuring distances with a divider, I did more refinements to get more detail. The body is still a bit rough, and I’m not concerned with it. The proportions are right. Details of the head are important, so I spent more time on it. I’m getting closer.


From here I’ll begin to start to work on darks, midtones and the lights, continually checking the angles and distances and further refining the details.


IMG_1907 Peaches Update 4                  IMG_1080a1


On a separate note, my wife, Rita, and I had a great time at the monthly First Friday Art Walk in Ocala last evening. Lots of people showed up for a wonderful night of holiday music by the Ocala Symphony Orchestra at Citizens Circle in Ocala. The weather was cool and added to the festive feeling. Thanks to all who attended and to all who stopped by and chatted about art.