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Reged: 01/19/08
Posts: 1493
Loc: Portland Oregon
Re: First Attempt At M42 new [Re: JanisR]
      #3508432 - 12/18/09 10:40 AM


You don't need much to get started. Conte pastel pencils are not expensive and a nice choice for the learning curve. I started out with white and black ones, a few blending stumps, a piece of natural sponge, a gentle eraser, and the heaviest weight black paper (pastel) I could find. There are now many choices for paper to choose from. Experiment with different black papers til you find the one that pleases you most.

And remember to *be kind* to yourself; the point of a drawing is not to make great art but to record an observation and more importantly, train your brain. There is no such thing as a "wasted" sketch. There will be sighs, growls and the ocassional four-letter word, even a crumble and toss or two, but soon you will be seeing so much more, you'll be amazed (and impressed)with your ability.

And it's gonna be *fun*.


I agree with Janis here on many accounts and I especially like her suggestion about lightly brushing the chalk with a sponge [it can also be done with a brush, a cotton swab or a napkin] and onto the paper to blend [this is actually a technique such as dry brush oil painting] and part of the great fun to see the colors emerge before your eyes, especially on black pastel papers. Blending is the main part of sketching nebulosities and more than half of the fun with pastel chalks and/or Conte Crayons and chalks. It is an Early attempt at M42 and the one piece I executed more blending on than any other work I have produced, and this is a small one on 9" X 12" Artagain paper. >

Another that I get all the time from people: "Gee I'd love to do great art like you Mark, but I cannot afford the materials." Huh? I ask them. I was given the materials as thrown away by someone who did not want them. They were an old box of several sets of antique pastels for free. After several years of using them now, I have slowly depleted my favorite colors, the oranges and yellows, all I originally used, I started with on solar sketching. Then the whites and off-whites wore down from so many large lunar sketches in the past two years. I simply bought a chalk stick or two at a time as needed. The prices range tremendously from a dollar or so per stick and up to several dollars but usually, I buy the inexpensive to intermediate priced ones as they are just fine and the same pigments. The cheapest ones might discourage the first time artist as they lack the higher content of rich pigments and do not adhere well to the paper. I have never purchased a complete set. I never used anything but cotton swabs and napkins to blend; although I just bought blending stumps for the first time a few months ago, I rarely use them. I never use my fingers to blend as the oil from the skin can stain the paper and seal the chalk from erasure if needed for corrections.

Good local art supply stores in your area will carry a plethora of single item materials that are extremely affordable. Part of the fun Janis speaks of is perusing the art stores like a kid browsing the candy isles. It is also inspiring as you run into other artists there that will share their artistic processes and stories.

What’s more, is talking to the workers at the art supply stores as many of then are serious amateurs too, just like you, except they have all the inside info and art supply details as they have constant access to them. Ask them questions about what materials to use as they are experts to learn from.

As for crumbling up works and cursing, that depends on how fun your work gets. (; It becomes second nature and you will adapt to learning something new that will interrelate to others things in life. You become more observant of life in general and your vision opens up an entirely new universe of realities! In the process you will serendipitously teach others, your family, friends, etc will be influenced as they watch you work and your stunning results as you improve. And everyone does improve as it is a natural progression to this artistic process. You may discover another part of your community you may never knew existed.

One point I might both agree in one sense and disagree in another with Janis on is this misunderstanding that your sketching is not also great art. Although our intent here in this forum is to record a technical field sketch from what we observe, I am not telling you anything that is not already in all the history books in so many words about the great artistic process. Many in this world are deterred from ever trying to sketch because they are afraid that they will be wrongfully judged as not a worthy artist. They may have been harshly admonished by a teacher when young. Or worse, that it requires some college degree, class, or prerequisite of formal training. Some of the greatest artists in the history books were all self taught. Conversely a new beginner could simply scratch a few lines and it can immediately become a masterpiece seemingly accidentally. I would encourage you to save all work; date and sign it and never crumple it up in frustration as even your perceived mistakes may be something to learn from. Make a file for your rough drafts separate from your finished masterpieces. You will go back one day and look again and realize your great improvements were owing to some of those mistakes which you corrected later from learning that you would otherwise eventually forget with thrown away early artistic efforts. As Janis said, "There is no wasted sketch". It all adds up to good practice.

In art, good luck comes with the first beginners step! -M 2009

My CN Gallery

Do not fear mistakes; there are none. –Miles Davis

On speaking of rough grinding of the students new telescope mirrors in class, the teacher tells them: “There is no boo-boo you can do in this class that will lead to a life of sorrow, because right now you haven’t got a telescope.” –John Dobson

Edited by markseibold (12/18/09 10:49 AM)

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Jeremy Perez
Carpal Tunnel

Reged: 08/12/04
Posts: 2125
Loc: Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
Re: First Attempt At M42 [Re: markseibold]
      #3508700 - 12/18/09 01:08 PM

Nicely done sketch and color, Paul. I hope you enjoy experimenting with the pastels. There are interesting differences in how graphite, charcoal and pastel behave when blending.


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