In high school I dicked around a little with chalk pastels, but somehow never quite warmed to the medium. This past summer, however, Frans gave me a set of Rembrandt soft pastels and I decided to give them another chance. We sell this incredible stuff at Pearl called Colorfix paper, which has a surface almost exactly like that of fine-toothed sandpaper and is really extraordinary for working on with pastels. The only drawback is that it's like nine bucks a sheet *cries* But somehow I happened upon a few pieces, and was really, really thrilled with the texture.
Here's my first go with the pastels--I think this was the middle or end of August. I was driving around in Poolesville and Hyattstown, and after an hour of searching I still hadn't found the "perfect" spot to set up and draw. Finally I arrived at the little four-way stop at the bottom of Sugarloaf Mountain, and took the only road I'd never been down before. After a few miles of winding through the woods, the trees on my right opened up to this wonderful vista of "Foulger-Pratt Farm." A hand-painted sign propped up against a tree proclaimed "Miniature Horses for Sale!", so I knew this was the perfect place. (I never saw any horses, though, not even normal-sized ones.)
As you can probably tell, this is still a work in progress. I made the mistake, as I guess a lot of novice pastel painters do, of adding too much detail across the entire piece. It needs some definite refinement. But, at any rate, I immediately fell in love with soft pastels and couldn't wait to experiment with them further.
This is my second attempt at pastelling (why they call working with pastels "painting", I'll never know. I think "smudging" would be a much more appropriate term.) Like the first time, it took me a while to find just the right location to set up and get to work. I actually drove down to Annapolis on this day, and finally came across this quiet little dock where I plunked down and "painted." The neatest part was that when I first walked onto the little pier, there was a crab pot tied to the side, and inside were two little snakes curled up with their heads sticking out above the water. Little minnows swam in and out of the cage, seemingly unperturbed by, or oblivious to, these potential predators.
Again, there are a lot of flaws in this one--the trees on the right, for example, are way too solid, and the water past the reeds in the foreground doesn't recede enough. When I was about two-thirds of the way through, I was staring down at the drawing for a few moments, and when I looked up again, the tide had started to rush in. In a matter of minutes, it seemed, all the land and reeds in the foreground were almost completely submerged, and the boat in the distance was pointing the other direction! Consequently, I had to fudge some of the details. Still, I had a lot of fun being out on the shore and chatting with the boaters who passed by.