Back by popular demand, Cindy Haase led a pastel workshop for twelve participants on Friday, April 20 at the LAC gallery. She started out by explaining her classic technique. Originally studying with Deborah Bays, a set designer in the theater, Cindy learned to employ drama in her work. She showed the group examples of her pastel still lifes that use this effect of atmospheric realism or “chiaroscuro”.
Cindy shows us an example of her work.
The setting up of a still life is important to an effective dramatic painting. Cindy uses a cardboard box with a black interior, lit from the left with a warm bulb which produces the classic effect of strong light and cool shadows. The center of focus is usually placed in the lower right. “Think of the light as wrapping around and caressing the objects”, she states. “It should be sensuous. The light reveals the objects.” Also, in planning the composition, be sure to connect the dark shadow areas, so the eye flows through the painting.
Blocking in the shapes of the object and shadows.
The pastel demo began with Cindy blocking in the shapes of the object, in this case an orange, on sanded pastel paper with vine charcoal or pastel pencil. She then started filling in the dark background with black pastel. Determining proper values is aided by a grayscale or “posterized” copy of the reference photo.
Laying in color.
As we all got out our supplies to get started, Cindy continued laying in color, first using hard NuPastels, then proceeding to softer pastels to layer and blend.
Susan Hoffman working on her orange.
The vivid pink foreground is added and blends with the same value of the front of the orange. Lost edges of the orange also fade into the dark background, helping to make the far edge recede. An atmospheric effect is created by scumbling color into the shadow areas, and final details “finesse” the finished product.
Students working on their pastels.
Cindy offered constructive criticism of our efforts at the end of class. Helpful hints were valuable to all the students, as we readied for more practice at home with additional photos she provided. Thanks for another fun and educational workshop, Cindy!