Today’s assignment was a self-portrait. I have been reading an oldie but goodie, Doug Dawson‘s Capturing Light & Color with Pastel, and have fallen in love with his style of portraiture. I had a picture of me that I thought I’d practice with and I think I’ve done five different renderings so far. I stopped working on the last version after a reasonable looking charcoal drawing. It may be that by the time I get about 80 percent into it tomorrow, I’ll end up adding it to the reject pile.
This is how it goes when I’m trying to learn something new. I’ll struggle and struggle and struggle and then, eventually, hopefully, something will click and my hands and my brain will start talking to each other again. It’s frustrating but at least I know that if I keep at it I’ll have a break through sooner or later.
We’re at the same point now with selling our house. We’ve done all the cleaning, the fixing, the painting, the showing. All that’s left is for someone to make us an offer. I’m leaving it up to Steve to take on the negotiating role. I’m notoriously bad at poker. Unless I’m lucky, and then I’m unbeatable. But everyone says that.
It’s the same with pastels. Sometimes I’m lucky. What I’d like to be is consistent, though, and I know that just takes endless repetition. Still, I’m enjoying myself, so it’s not onerous, and at least with this one, I only have to please myself.
I bought some stock photos to use as practice paintings. There’s one of the Big Sable Lighthouse in the Ludington State Park, one of the S.S. Badger, and one of the Ludington Lighthouse. Since I’m going to be there this summer, I thought I’d get some licks in.
I started with Big Sable Lighthouse first because I have some memories associated with it and I thought the black and white form was interesting. As it turned out, what was more interesting to me was the dune grass.
The first one I did based on two small studies plus an additional photo that had more detail of the lighthouse keepers house in front of the actual lighthouse. I was concerned with getting the details correct in this.
The second version I skipped the underpainting altogether and focused on the dune grass in the foreground. I liked the sway of the grass and imagined the wind that was making it twist around. I spent a lot less time on the lighthouse and even hid more of it behind the grass. It was while I was taking a close up photo of this piece that I had kind of an “aha” moment and saw the composition that I didn’t know I wanted until I saw it.
And this is the one that I like best of all three. I don’t know how popular it would be as a representation of the Big Sable Lighthouse and maybe I need to revisit the first one again, find a way to paint it that makes me happy and also is salable. But I feel like I could do this particular painting, no. 3, over and over again and never get tired of it. What do you think?
I painted this last week, while I was working my shift at The Attic. I liked the contrast between the woman’s dark skin and the bright bikini and really, really liked both against the cool blues of the water. She was so relaxed, sitting in the surf and letting the waves wash over her. I think I was wearing shorts or jeans or something and I remember feeling a little jealous. Why wasn’t I sitting in the water like her?
Yellow Bikini, 6×9″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia
Yellow Bikini, matted and framed, $269.
Yellow Bikini, 6×9″ pastel on paper, matted and framed, $269.