I came across a beautiful image, and I immediately felt that it had to be painted. For quite a time, I had wanted to experiment with oil pastels on background, especially, when painting human faces.
This is what I came up with:
Here is the image I found on Pinterest:
This time, it was this photo that was the main inspiration. Each work is a mixture of a reference image as a basis, the way I choose to see it, and a lot of fantasy. 🌌 You have to follow the thought your inspiration leads you to. This painting is an exploration how emotions can be shown though the mood of a color palette. Also, to me it was a close-up study on representing the different shades of the skin. A wonderful practice. 🌑
As a background I chose a simple dark blue cardboard paper. I drew the sketch very lightly with a pencil, scarcely enough to see for myself, because too much pencil can sometimes show through the colours, especially lighter. I rather chose to roughly sketch the subject, and then start to form the parts of her face in bulks. I was only slightly guided by the pencil sketch, there were only a few lines. So I estimated the proportions of her face, as I moved forward to paint.
If you like your sketches detailed, maybe try a super light pencil, and then do your sketch as you would.
Then determine the colour palette you are going to use. After picking lovely shades of violet and blue, I started to use the bold colors as the undertones that her skin seemed to reflect, at the same time determining her facial features. You can notice that I've represented shadows stronger and darker, and coloured the highlights in glowing pastels. The midtones are somewhat brown in this stage.
I continued to paint until late night, getting a lot done in a relatively short amount of time, all the time listening to music, getting carried away by the sounds and the merging colours. Next morning, I woke up from the sun shining brightly through my window, drank a coffee, and I began to color away…
I continued doing the previous for the body. Basically, I built the painting by first layering the stronger tones underneath, then a layer of a muted neutrals - grey, mostly - was added to blend the strong colours together into the midtones. In this painting, I really wanted to emphasize the way light falls on her face, and accentuates the forms, so I exaggerated the highlights. Don't be afraid to experiment with the color of crayon for blending, as you can use basically whatever light crayon you want, depending on what goes into your general palette.
You can see the whole arsenal of my tools for this picture, in this image. I chose Pentel pastels, because I had them at home.
Pastels tend to smear, so for a more precise result use a paper knife or a palette knife and gently lift out the pigment from the paper (this works for correcting mistakes, too!).
Two coffees later, a lot of caffeine and excitement for the painting going on, and I decided to harmoniously arrange the crayons and take the picture...
Here I have continued with the back part. See, I've coloured in a bit of brown near the midtone/shadow range down her back. Remember, that every part of the skin on face and body might be in a slightly different skin shade, so it's important to use a few strong colors of a harmonious palette. Typically, the human skin has pigments of red, green, and blue, so it's good to keep that in mind!
If you need (this might make it easier for you), keep a small piece of the same paper as the background, and use it as a palette. Before that crayon melts its doughy colour on your paper, try them together to see the result.
Tis' the same coffee cup and a lot of blending
Then I blended in the shadows and the midtones with the light blue to give a natural appeal. If you want the pastel to have a smooth blend, rather than texturous, blend in the soft paste with your finger. I have parts in the painting where I've mixed the colours smoothly, and some parts I've kept slightly rougher in order to recreate a texture. Textures amaze me, so it's always fun to work with something thick and pasty for me. :)
You can freely experiment with the colour choice, as you paint! For me, painting with pastels is always an experimentation. As I paint, I choose techniques and the colour tones I intuitively feel I see through the color in the photo.
Pros of painting with oil pastel.
You'll see the effect of blended colours soon. It's one of the many pros of oil pastels. You don't have to worry about waiting for the paint to dry, and having a lighter/darker shade that you initially wanted as a result from that. Oil pastel is easy to work with - it blends well, it's flexible. Another plus is that you can quickly correct any mistakes and you build the painting layer by layer, slowly and logically going towards the result.
THE FINAL TOUCH
The white sash around her neck. The accent that ties everything together. By this time, I had got so excited seeing that the painting is turning out exactly how I wanted, I even paused a bit before the special occasion and savoured the moment of finishing the last detail. So I painted the sash, and voila!
Check out my other works: on my portfolio.
This is the final, scanned version. Remember to do the color and light correction and tweak the hue to match the real-life version. I was absolutely happy about finishing the painting in the first place, and the outcome was so beautiful, especially, in life. The matte parts of crayon contrasted with the slighty gleaming background of the paper. And I managed to capture what I wanted. Most of all, I enjoyed painting very much, and I couldn't feel the flying hours. Since the painting is relatively so quick in its build-up, I got carried away easily and forgot to take pictures in between painting steps. I love painting just too much. I enjoyed playing with the million different hues that the human skin reflects. I imagined that the light falling on her is so strong as if illuminating every undertone of her skin; light so bright, making her skin brilliant.
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