Sunday, May 6, 2012

Orange Lily - Pastel ACEO

Just a small painting today.

Orange Lily is 3 1/2" x 2 1/2", an ACEO on gray ClaireFontaine PastelMat done with a 25 color Girault Landscape assortment supplemented with a red and a red-violet stick that I bought separately because the Landscape assortment lacked either a red or a violet. The photo reference is from the May Spotlight challenge on

Every month the Spotlight challenge includes a lesson, this month's topic is Edges. So in this small painting I focused on the soft to vanished edges in the background, softened edges on some of the stems and leaves with some linear accents to sharpen up edges on some buds, leaves and of course the main flower. It came out vigorous and lively.

One of the nice things about working small is that I'm forced to keep things simple. I can't noodle after details of veins and spots in the petals, have to focus on the important shapes and graceful lines of the subject. I like how it came out. The contrast between finger blended background and stick-blended or unblended strokes is a bit stronger in person.

Finger blending mutes and dulls pastels. It creates perfect loose soft edges at the cost of some vibrance. The pigment crystals get broken down and crushed to more of a matte look. That's something I use to advantage sometimes in painting so that the main subject pulls forward with more intensity and texture.


  1. Good job on this, Robert. The edges and hues of the stems and leaves help push them back to give the painting good depth. The complementary red on green makes the lily pop. Amazing what you can do in such a small format.

  2. Thank you! I was used to doing ACEOs in watercolor, pen-watercolor and colored pencils for so long that painting this size is familiar to me. The main thing with pastels is that it forces me to simplify. Otherwise I would have been at it trying to get every vein and dot!