Saturday, January 23, 2016

Struggles and There Benefit

I realize the older I get the easy paths are a fun resting place but only the through the difficult struggle do we grow and are able to rejoice and feel as though we overcame what seem impossible or to difficult. But also it rids us of the sense of failure. The creative posses for most of us is not always the the thrill of complete success but at times a satisfaction of not quitting and finding our way to the completion of a project with a sense of what we wanted to accomplish in the finished product we wanted to creating.  That was the way of this painting. I had found a awesome photo of a female bald eagle leaving her nest of tiny babies in the hunt for food. The photo gave you the sense of her great power and I found the desire to freeze it on paper and share with others her beauty.

In the end I'm not sure I was able to convey the complete statement I wanted to make but as one new to Pastels,  the struggle with this new medium I manage to finish. Therefore I hope you can walk away from today's blog entry sharing and leaning from my struggles.

These bullet points were thoughts as I went along in this painting. It is often fun when I'm finished to see some of my concerns as it progressed.

  • One of the  funny things I find in pastels is the idea that they seem to be terribly ugly before they even begin to come alongside the idea of being pretty. I have gotten in the habit of taking photographs as I go along, calling them my faith photos. For let me tell you it does take a great deal of faith to think this does not belong in the trash. I had spent a good deal of time on the drawing using a separate piece of paper. 
  • Finally the thing is off the ugly list but still needs some work before I can finish.
  • One thing through this struggle is I learned a lot about backgrounds and small detail in pastels. 
  • I finally used fixative to seal it because I was having trouble getting the whites around her head to stand out. 
  • For the first time I was able to see the benefit of a good quality pastel. Even as it is softer my Rembrandts went down stranger and more intense.
  • I really struggled with this piece. I have said it before but this was almost a trash can piece. By this I really mean I plan to develop a unsuccessful folder. I feel my students and I can benefit from my failed attempts.  
  • Interesting that even though I knew contrast would be the key to keeping my eagle the center of interest, some where along the line I allowed the pine trees and sky too, value wise, rob my friendly eagle of some of its glory. It became quite a fight to soften both my pine trees and sky. Remember I am fairly new to pastel and so I was a bit insecure on just how to accomplish this. Also in this struggle I manage to put so much pastel on the paper I had filled the tooth of the paper. 
  • A major struggle is to remember that and to cherish the grain or tooth of the paper. When it becomes full you can not add highlight's very well. I'm not sure what the remedy for me is in this. I guess better planing of choices along the way.
  • This painting sent me in to new areas such as to have a pine tree that looked real but lacking strong detail. The term impressionist comes to mind and it may have so value in learning more about it.  

Beginning, I began by doing a detailed drawing of the bird. I must say the angle of this bird proved to be challenging  all in itself for me.  I have the right plan here to keep light behind the bird. I think I got lost in my photo and began putting on paper what I saw. For the first time I understand the thought of making a photo into a painting, that you must first considered  how to make the photo your own. By this I mean what excited me most about this photo and bring that out,  not everything the camera saw. As a very detailed artist I now see detail has its place and sharing emotion, mainly mine must rule over the detail of a photo. Lesson - I want a painting not a photo. I want emotion not overcrowding of detail. A  favorite artist of mine said. "A PHOTO SAYS I WAS THERE, A PAINTING SAYS HOW I FEEL ABOUT IT'.

Next I laid what I considered base background color. I wish I had used less green and more blue in the effort to protect the tooth of the paper. A light blue gray might have been better where I knew pine would go in to help add depth behind the trees. 

Because I was uncertain abut how to add the pine needles and also as I looked at my photo I thought I needed more blue. You can see I add to dark of a blue in my estimation. I would later go back over and over to try and lighten it. You can see that even in the beginning I lost the strong contrast of the eagle from its background. 

Finally after two days I decided enough was enough. I'm not sure the painting has the emotion I wanted to share but it was time to end and move on. I did learn a lot about applying small detail, in a pastel painting. Realism and detail are total different subject. Especially the beak, I found one stroke for the mouth as long as you go for strong contrast is all you want to try. The eyes,  beak and mouth I use a #2  charcoal pencil. It was much stronger black. 

So what was my hope when I began this piece. This was a picture of Harriet a female eagle I watch on web cam in Florida. She has a new mate as her long time mate of 10 years died this last fall. This photo was taken by a eagle watcher down there and I thought it represented such power and grace. It is one of the few birds God so often mentions in his word. In Isa. 40:31 God promises us we would be like the eagle with strength and longevity as long as we wait on the Lord. And Harriet reminds me of this as she has to deal with the loss of a mate and accepting her role to reproduce, forces her morning period to be short and accept a new mate. All creation lives to testify to Gods love and power.

All in all it was a fun learning process as I experiment with this new medium.  I thank the Lord he has instilled in me the unwillingness to not give up. Life is much like this. For the growth comes through the struggle no matter how messy the journey is at time. 

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