Thursday, 07 June 2012

Chapter 6: Flirting with Pastel

Luke and Michael seemed to be fine. From behind my easel in Mary's lounge I watched them toddling up the path  behind Temba.

Engrossed as I was in my new painting I felt relieved that there had been no dramas, no tears or broken limbs. I had thought too soon. Just then Luke let out a yell and then all hell broke loose. Mary's dog had come bounding out of the house and both boys went flying.
Mary calmly attended to Michael while I tried to calm Luke. No bones broken but a scratch which needed some dragon's blood ( mercurochrome). Trying to carry on painting after that proved impossible. Luke was fretful and whined to go home, so I reluctantly and speedily packed my painting away and sped homeward.
The following week I left Luke at playgroup and rushed to Mary's to try and make up the lost hour of the previous week's session.
Mary had been watching me attacking my canvas with charcoal, making rapid stabs and slashes. She said- you seem to need anger as a means to motivate you. I felt a bit embarrassed and found myself saying that it had been a fairly stressful morning getting Luke ready for playgroup and that the previous night's rehearsal had gone on till after 1am.
She suggested I try pastels. She told me where to buy them and what colours to use. I was excited. Even though I had started on oils with Wendy I was ready to try something new.

Nude after Degas: 700 x 500. Pastel on paper

By now I was confident enough with composition to know that I could copy. Because I was still enamoured with the work of the Impressionists, and with Degas in particular, I decided to copy a Degas nude.

Mary was quiet throughout, watching with detached interest and a wry bemusement. I felt that she wanted to push me beyond merely copying, so I added the pink curtain in the background. Though I like the tactility of the medium, I couldn't get a vivid quality with pastel. The chalk would tend to fall off the paper and my attempts at layering colours on top of each other were largely disappointing. Though I think I achieved a certain luminosity.

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