Thursday, May 13, 2010

Monkey portrait and 100th post

I was reading someone's art blog recently who celebrated her 1000th post.  That is a helluva milestone to me!  As someone who arrived on the art blog scene much later than most, it will be a while before I reach that point, but I certainly do hope to.  But, I can still be happy that I've posted regularly enough that this post signifies a much more modest milestone - 100.  That seems like a large number to me, especially since I've only been doing the blog since Sept. '09.  I was prompted to begin a blog after realizing just how much I enjoy reading and viewing other artist's blogs.
Nelson jumps for joy over 100 posts
(he's actually just jumping for his feather toy)

I have no idea how many people read this blog, either passers-by or regularly.  I'm sure the mixed content is probably not appealing to some who like only pastels, or only landscapes, etc.  But, I'm okay with that; I can't really define myself as having one sole medium or outlet that drives my creative mind at all times.   I think for me this blog has been great because it has given me a purpose to be creative on a regular basis, be it with pastel and paper or a camera.  Or maybe some clay.  Either way, it's all good.  And for those that take the time to stop by and take a look, I appreciate it!

As I mentioned in the last post, I have been working on a pastel portrait of Monkey.  I haven't done a pastel painting of an animal since '98.  I've actually never done a portrait painting of any animal or pet that I was personally acquainted with.  Charcoal sketches and drawings - yes.  So, this is another first for me.

After doing mixed media realistic equine sculpture for the last 15 years, I am done with "realism" as far as it pertains to colors and detail.  Done.  While I can appreciate the level of realism that many artists who paint animals put into their work, that's not a direction I plan to head.  I may still do the labor-intensive, value-based graphite drawing from time to time, as there are certain subjects that appeal to me done in that manner, and it's the way that many rigorous ateliers still work, like copying the drawings of old masters.

However, I find myself these days far more interested by color, and this portrait of Monkey was inspired by the work of two pastelists whose work I admire for their fantastic portraits:  Harley Brown and Dawn Emerson.  Their paintings simply vibrate with color and energy, and that's the direction I would like my work to go.  The only way I can describe their work is as "loose precision", which sounds contradictory, but if you're familiar with their work, it might make more sense.

Here is my first step.  It's a bit tighter than I'd probably do in the future, but in this case, the detail was fun and didn't take that long.  My main concern was getting anatomy and proportions correct - without that as a base, the painting fails.  What was best was using non-doggy colors - pinks, purples, and blues dominate - it's about value, not color.  The greens for the background were chosen for their harmony with the blues of his coat, and that green represents life, energy and renewal.  

"Monkey" - 12x18
pastel on Strathmore 400-Series paper

For Roxanne, as a gift for your 40th birthday.

Love you, 



  1. Nice! Love how you used the color! Say prrr to Nelson for me.

  2. Jala, thank you, as always, for stopping by :). As someone who has such an excellent command of color, I really appreciate your comments.

    Nelson says "hi" between his many naps.


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