Hands and Feet

Last week I began a pastels class featuring the nude form. I'd only done pastel portrait work in the past, never the figure. I chose it because I prefer to work from life and it's a good option as the weather gets colder.

The class is at the new Workhouse Art Center and the instructor is a Floridian relatively new to this area. She was an instructor at Ringling and is the perfect clown herself.

Her means of painting is different than I'd previously encountered and it is unique to her teaching. Doing landscapes en plein air, I use sanded paper and soft pastels of varying degrees of hardness, using one on top of the other to blend them. Ginger White Hertgenroeder (see another example) recommends hard pastels, like NuPastel, or medium ones, like Rembrandt, to dither out a form onto flat drawing paper, layering these more resistant pastels and blending them with each other. She uses the side, particularly the corner of square ones, to gradually etch out the figure. This method makes finding the proper angle a desirable process which causes the entire figure seem to shimmer with movement.

Here's my example from class, a study from a larger portrait of the model's bent leg.

The next day, as I was stuck waiting for routine car maintenance, I painted my foot and hand several times.

This example is like the first, which only used shades of brown, beginning light to dark. Unlike the first which used pastels from my very, very hard set of square Van Goghs, these below are with Rembrandts.

The next two go beyond the brown palette and inch toward Ginger's palette for the fair skinned. Begin with your lightest of three browns and work to your darkest. Work in pink and progress to blue, which blends together to create purple in places. Work in green sparingly and get shadows and definition with browns. Keep the pinks and greens apart, as they'll make mud. Scrub in a layer of white over all of it to further blend the other colors and begin again to further define as needed.

This example uses three values of blue along with white.

It's a fun method and I especially like chiseling out the form instead of drawing, erasing, and refining.

In summation, however, I want to make two points. First, I must admit that it is hilarious to me to paint the hand or foot of a nude person. Second, I did not find a need to be nude when I painted my own hand and foot.

You'd better be laughing.


Anonymous said...

Well, I'm only smiling - bcz after all, perhaps it is important to see how ALL the structures fit together, yes?!?

Anonymous said...

Well if your not nude when you paint does that not defeat the purpose of voyeurism for the other artists?