Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Beach Portrait

I am getting my submissions ready for a water themed show. The last being a still-life submission and now a portrait submission. I really want to recreate, with this portrait, that feeling of the beach, with her hair blowing in the wind and the bright bits of light on her hair and nose from the direct sun paired with the fill light created from sunlight bouncing off of the sand. This however is not easy to achieve. I can do the pose with the light hitting one side and dark inhabiting the other easily... but this, virtually all midtones, is a harder one to hit right. To tell the truth, this is actually attempt number two... I went much too dark with the face the first time around and had to scrap it. This time I am much more pleased. I am so lucky to have such a beautiful model that is still young enough she does what her mother asks. Well if its not cleaning.

These little test strips are such a helpful tool. First I took all my favorite skintone colors from my polychromos and scribbled them on some Fisher 400 paper and punched a hole in the middle of them. Next I took what I felt was the closest color to the base color of her face - basically that is what color I would pick if I could only choose one color - and I made a second tool from them. This time I scribbled the base color, in this case cinnamon, and mixed it with colors I thought would make good skintones and again punched a hole in those mixtures. Since I am working with a photograph I can place the tool right on top of the photograph and match up colors. With such a limited range in values on the sunlit face, these tools are really priceless.

In my last post Vicki asked me some questions:

1) I have found that while using the Ampersand pastelbord – and maybe one
shouldn’t do this – that I can layer colors or change my mind about an area I’m
working on without end (although I know there must be an end) so long as I can,
from time to time, use a solvent to blend and create a new surface. I hope you
are not wincing. I also found I can veer far, far away from using the beautiful
shaded tiny circles or straight line stroke techniques I’ve seen demonstrated
and (enjoy using on paper) and just unabashedly scribble away (gasp) in those
less realistic areas. Is this because I know nothing and should not do this, or
is this what pastelbord allows and forgives me for?

2) Given that not all the areas in my pastelbord pieces reveal a
solvent-finished surface after the last stroke, the surface sheen is uneven. Is
this why one applies the varnish? Do you always use fixative on all your pieces,
Nicole?Thanks to you and all for your patience with these questions. This is
what comes

Vicki - first off there is no one way to work and I would never say any
method is worng if it works for you. I don't like to use solvent myself, but
my friend Maggie Stiefvater I believe works in the same way you are

2nd question - I apply varnish because I frame without glass and want to
protect the piee from dirt etc, and allow the owner to wipe it clean. The
fact that it does even out the finish is a bonus! I always use fixative and
varnish for all my pieces on pastelbord and use fixative on my pieces on
Fisher 400.


Maggie Stiefvater said...

This is coming along great, Nicole!

I just wanted to pipe up and say -- yeah, when I put fixative on my pieces that have solvent and non-solvent areas, it evens it all up nicely.

Deborah Ross said...

I love this already. What a beautiful girl.

Vicki said...

I am so grateful! Thank you, Nicole and Maggie, for sharing your finishing touches. I love the life within each of your unique and beautiful styles; it truly mesmerizes me whether it’s the serenity and depth in your portraits, Nicole, and the delight and expansiveness of life in Maggie’s. It’s the life in your work that makes looking at it all so inspiring. Everyone’s got a definition of what art is and mine is “to give life” Isn’t colored pencil great for allowing us to capture so much life? Life’s simple, but complexly simply, more than the eye first sees - just your test strip samples! These are priceless to behold. Thank you for sharing them and inspiring – giving life –to me and my illustrating.

The Golden Frog said...

Amazing work! I love how your test strip idea and to match the colours to the photograph!

ddmozart said...

Beautiful, Nicole! I didn't realize you used Polychomos for your skin tones. Do you use them most of the time instead of Prisma's?

Debbie Duffield

Nicole Caulfield said...

Thanks everyone!

Your Welcome Vicki!

Debbie - I use my polychromos whenever I use Fisher 400 paper. They smudge real easily and are almost like a thin pastel pencil, which I really enjoy. When I work on pastelbord I use Derwent Coloursofts, Luminance and the occasional Prisma. I don't use my prismas very often actually.

Kathy said...

Nicole, This portrait is beautiful! Can't wait to see the 'beachy-ness' of it. Love the idea of the tst strip - genius.