Pastel Art and my Painting Process

Pastel Art
Photograph provided by client

Many people inquire about what my process in creating a pastel art is like. I’d love to share a general idea about how I create my pastel art. The process begins with a photo that is usually cropped until it looks like an interesting vantage for a painting. This is usually provided by the client who wishes to commission the painting. I usually get commissioned to create paintings based of travel photos, and locations that have a special place in their hearts. I was commissioned to recreate this photograph of two Llamas overlooking the ancient Machu Picchu, provided by a client who just had her honeymoon in Peru.

Then I draw a quick thumbnail sketch using charcoal. I use a grid to position objects in the correct place even though this sketch itself is usually only about 5” x 7”. It is converted later to the correct paper size that I’m using for the actual painting.  The other purpose of a thumbnail sketch is to show the values (dark, medium and light tones).  

From there I do a color study sketch which roughly shows a few colors again concentrating on the values.  

Now it’s time for the painting itself! Again using a grid I place main objects, horizon lines, trees, houses, etc. in their correct position but I’m using only two colors at this point (one for dark and one for medium) and am roughly sketching the areas almost in a block form. It’s a good idea at this time to lightly apply rubbing alcohol with a wide brush to give it an “underpainting”.

Then I start layering lightly and adding more and more colors. The whole process of pastels is relatively fast and you really see a transformation before your eyes. 

Pastels for me is a perfect medium because I can see results in a short time and I love the color of pastels – almost pure pigment.