Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Colourful Rose aka Red Red Rose

Colourful Rose aka Red, Red Rose
6" square
Terry Ludwig pastels on white Colourfix Suede pastel card
Photo reference by DAK723 on WetCanvas

This one is another "Pastel Spotlight" challenge painting. This month's challenge theme is Red. DAK723 hosts the challenges and had already done blue, green, yellow and maybe orange, think orange was one. So I was very glad he put a rose into the lineup.

It was pink, a medium-dark pink like hot pink. And this rose is not quite it. I changed it substantially in the painting, abandoned the reference entirely somewhere around doing the middle of the sketch. In simplifying it I changed the interior petals to my artistic tastes. I made the light stronger and more directional. How that worked ultimately was that it looks more as if it's washed by a dapple of sun and implies a shade tree above the entire scene - an effect I love.

I also succeeded in two things. You can't photo a red rose. I've tried. What comes out is scarlet with black squiggles and no values in between. I've looked hard at some professional photos of red roses and seen the way the dark reds vanish suddenly, even after serious photoshop work. Well, it can be done with a painting! Yay!

And so the color was entirely from memory. I worked out both the rendering for bright scarlet roses and for the deep red velvety ones I always loved. Where the deepest darks really do sometimes go almost to black. I figured out how to do that by way of the underpainting colors, and so there will be more red roses to come as I play with the results.

I don't much like Terry Ludwig on Colourfix Suede as much as Pan Pastels or firmer pastels, but it worked better than plain paper. I would have preferred sanded, but now I know, use firmer pastels. This kind of experiment always helps. I also used an alcohol wash for the underpainting or I probably would have killed the tooth in the first layer.

Plain paper, coated paper, sanded paper of different grits - all pastel surfaces have favorite pastels and all pastel brands have favorite surfaces. The fun is finding out what the combinations do. If I did this again with Pan Pastels and accents in hard pastel or pastel pencil it might come out great - but would still be a very different rose!

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