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Work In Progress: Peaches

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Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby RichardDevine » Thu Nov 05, 2015 7:51 pm

Work In Progress: Peaches, Update 1
It’s hard to understand – and harder yet to explain – the influence that Peaches had on my outlook on the world around me. After spending nearly every waking hour of my day for the past six years with her, since my retirement, she became a part of me. Her presence in my life influenced how I felt about things in my world. Having her by my side as I read, and worked around the house, and created artwork, helped raise my enjoyment of everything I did. She was always there. We started traveling to the mountains when we had her, and we never put her in a kennel. If we couldn’t take her on a trip, we were fortunate enough to have a family member volunteer to stay with her. Everyone loved her. My wife even groomed her and trimmed her when she needed it – and that was no easy task. We hiked together and just took little walks together. We ran and played together. We walked around the garden together and always went to get the mail together. We always looked forward to her presence, greeting us when we came home. A part of us died with her that day and our lives have been diminished by her absence.
My wife has advised against doing a portrait of her so soon but somehow I feel compelled to do one. So, I will try. I’ve gone through a lot of photos of her and came up with one I thought was her essence. It is one that makes me think most deeply about her, about our memories of her, of all the super good times we had and how sweet and loving she was. It is one of maturity, in the prime of her life, her big brown eyes taking in all that is before her. I will attempt this one in pastel, for pastel’s softness seems appropriate to her personality.
My start on this one may be a bit slow at first because I’m also involved in a commission piece, one that will be completed shortly. But I’m especially anxious to do this one, as it has so much meaning.
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby CarlOwen » Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:30 am

I know what you mean Richard. Felt the same way when we lost Boris. I had to have him put down because of catastrophic kidney failure. Cried my eyes out for three days. Moped around for three months. Then got Charlie. He is now my constant companion just like Boris was, only with a different personality. Looking forward to seeing your portrait of Peaches. I am going to suggest you keep a box or two of Kleenex close by when you start work. I think you will need it.
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby ehoeveler » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:34 pm

We love Peaches and want her treated the way only you know how to do! Looking Forward.
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby RichardDevine » Fri Nov 20, 2015 12:29 pm

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 2
Although I haven’t made a great deal of headway on this project, I can see things beginning to clear a bit, enabling me to find more time to work on it. I just finished up a colored pencil class and it was great to see the progress made by all the students. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. We were able to explore technique in detail, something that seemed beneficial to all – and something I will be stressing more of in future classes.
The Rainbow Springs Fine Art Festival is tomorrow and I’ve been busy getting ready for that. I’ve finished a commission piece and I’ll be delivering that soon. Although I have another class coming up in early December, my plate is beginning to clear some, so I’ll be able to spend more time on this portrait
As with all my projects, I’ve been doing some planning and preparation. This will be a pastel portrait to begin with. The size will be 12” by 16” high and will be done on Canson Mi Tientes pastel paper – colored. What color occupied my thoughts for a while and I decided on beige. It’s a warm color. Her fur is termed buff, a light beigey tan, and the surroundings are all warm in color. I think the toned paper will serve as a good base.
Backgrounds vary considerably from portrait to portrait. Vignettes contain no background, others just consist of abstract colors that complement the subject. Other portraits have realistic surroundings. It depends to a great deal on the client. I’m going to include a full background on this one. I don’t want the subject to appear isolated. Peaches was a part of our family and our home and I think including the surroundings she was a part of seems right.
I’m going to try developing the portrait directly on the final paper rather than drawing it separately and transferring it to the support. I drew directly on the final paper with my portrait of Savannah and, right now, it seems the right approach. By carefully and accurately working up the proportions, and re-checking them as I go, I think I’ll do better than having to transfer a drawing. Details can be altered or lost when transferring from tracing paper to final paper. I’ll work up the drawing with vine charcoal rather than graphite. It’s more easily erasable when necessary and fits in better with pastels. It can also be integrated into the pastels to create darker darks.
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby CarlOwen » Fri Nov 20, 2015 12:43 pm

Nice going Richard. How you have thought this through and described it, I believe I can see the final product. It, of course, is going to be beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby RichardDevine » Fri Nov 27, 2015 12:43 pm

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 3
Finally got a start on this portrait. In the end, I decided to block in the portrait with pastel rather than charcoal. I felt the lighter color would be easier to work with and allow me to gradually darken the figure without having to worry about covering the charcoal. I wanted to start the block in with a color that was just darker than the paper and chose light flesh.
The first thing I did was to estimate what size the figure had to be in a photo such that I could reproduce the figure on pastel paper at twice the size. Even multiples work out nicely. After figuring that out, I printed out the photo I would be working with. Next, I lightly ruled a painting area on the pastel paper 16” wide by 20” high. From the photo I judged where I would place the figure within the ruled area. I lightly drew a short line indicating where the topmost point of the head would be. Using dividers, I marked in the level for the bottommost point of the chin. The angle from the topmost point of the head to the bottommost point of the chin was then lightly drawn in. These would be my beginning reference points. I also marked in the levels of the top and bottom of the nose, and the mouth.
The next step in this block in was to roughly outline the entire figure. Rather than immediately trying to work in the curving lines around the body, I picked out important points around the body where there was an abrupt change of direction. Using dividers and judging angles, I found these obvious points and drew fairly straight lines connecting them. I was not interested in any subtle curves or details at this point, merely getting a somewhat accurate shape and getting the dimensions right. Everything would be refined in later steps.
Blocking in the head proceeded in the same manner. Using the reference points of the topmost point on the head and the bottommost point of the chin, and the center-line, I found the side of the head, the size and shape of the ears, the placement of the eyes, and their width, the shape of the nose and the shape of the muzzle. I constantly checked angles and distances from one point to another as I built in more features. As more feature edges were added I used those to check newer ones, and constantly back checked previous ones to make sure I was maintaining fair accuracy.
This all resulted in rough first stage. From here I’ll go back and begin to slowly refine it.
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby CarlOwen » Fri Nov 27, 2015 8:29 pm

Good start as usual Richard. Looking forward to watching your progress.
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby ehoeveler » Sat Nov 28, 2015 2:12 pm

Watching, also! Thanks, E
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby RichardDevine » Sat Dec 05, 2015 11:06 am

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 4
My stage 1 first drawing resulted in a rough block in of Peaches. From there I went back over and refined the block in by doing a second drawing over the first. I switched from light flesh used in the first drawing to van dyke brown for the second. Still checking angles and measuring distances with a divider, I did more refinements to get more detail. The body is still a bit rough, and I’m not concerned with it. The proportions are right. Details of the head are important, so I spent more time on it. I’m getting closer.

From here I’ll begin to start to work on darks, midtones and the lights, continually checking the angles and distances and further refining the details.
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby ehoeveler » Sun Dec 06, 2015 3:06 pm

I have no doubts about this being gorgeous when finished. Thank You, E
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby RichardDevine » Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:47 am

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 5
More of the head is refined here. I spent more time on the eyes and nose, making more adjustments, deepening the color. Most of the work was with brown ochre (182). I used that color, with a sharp point, to define more of the hair on the right side and on the neck. The right edge of the fur along the top of Peaches’ left ear was defined more by coloring in the couch behind her. There, I used some brown ochre, burnt ochre (187), and burnt carmine (193). It’s a little too red at this point but it helps to define the edges of the ear.
The eyes received more attention in this session as well. There I used dark sepia (175), black (199) around the upper circumference of the eye, and under it, where it seems to have a bit of red color, I added some burnt carmine. The iris itself is an interesting combination of colors, and I don’t think I have it quite right yet. The colors used there are burnt umber (280), black, burnt sienna (283), a little burnt carmine and cream (102) for the lighter areas of the eyes. The pupil is black. I have a good start on the eyes but I’ll need to refine them further. I think the highlight needs to move a bit and, of course, become brighter.
The nose has much black in it, but also has some brown ochre and cream along the top. There is also some burnt umber and brown ochre on the edges of the darks.
The light areas on either side of the nose, marking the outer edges of the muzzle were first indicated with a bit of warm grey I(270), but I later added some brown ochre to color it a bit. So far, the lighter areas around the eyes and nose haven’t been filled in yet, as I wanted to get more of the defining features first.
The areas under the nose, around the mouth and the chin have some warm grey I, along with paynes grey (181) and black. I’ve also put in a bit of brown ochre. At the corners of the mouth, where the cheeks turn down there is a bit of reddish color, and there I added in some burnt sienna, along with the darker burnt umber. I haven’t worked the mouth completely yet either.
I’m working all the areas on the face, here and there, as I look to the photo reference, and as I do so, I keep checking measurements – the size of the eyes, the distance between them, their relationship to the nose. All these measurements are important and I don’t want to stray from them as I further refine the features.
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby ehoeveler » Fri Dec 11, 2015 4:04 pm

Beeyootiful face. Peaches will wonderfully remembered. Thank You, E
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby RichardDevine » Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:20 pm

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 6
I’m making some progress on this.
Have some more detail in the face, progressing in the right direction. I added a bit of the background in - and that is helping to define the edges of the body. Most of the background is being laid in with soft pastels, and defined a little with pastel pencils. The curtain colors so far are raw sienna and burnt umber (Sennelier).
I’m a little disappointed in my ability to get in the detail that I want with pastel, but I think that is mostly due to my learning curve with pastel, a new medium for me. I like pastel but have to get used to using it. Although the likeness is good, I want greater detail. I think I can achieve that through further refinement. The harder pastels of the pastel pencils will not easily go over the top of the soft pastels, especially when the surface is loaded with the soft pastel. The pastel pencils sort of plough through the softer pastel without producing the fine lines I want. I’m finding that, with the pastel pencils, detail can be achieved by a slow buildup of light layers of pastel, working in the detail as I go. This is very much like laying down color with colored pencils. Light layers are built up slowly, and working mostly from light to dark. Once the tooth of the paper is filled to a greater degree with pastel, it is necessary to use softer and softer pastel on top. I can’t add pastel pencil on top of many layers of soft pastel that has been built up. If I’m going to stick with pastel pencils (and I want to, at least with portraits), color must be built up slowly in light layers, mixing as I go. Using the pencils takes more planning – just as colored pencils do. With that in mind, I should be able to succeed in establishing more detail.
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby RichardDevine » Fri Jan 08, 2016 3:59 pm

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 7
More detail in the head now, and started working down the chest.
This certainly is a learning process for me. Pastels are new to me and, though I’m making progress, it’s been slow. I’m still finding my way handling this medium, especially as it relates to detail. And, I like detail. Soft pastel sticks do not lend themselves easily to great detail, at least for me, so I elected to do the main figure work with pastel pencils. The pencils are harder and can be sharpened to a point. An artist I’ve been studying for pastel pencil work is Cuong Nguyen. He is simply fabulous and his portraits can inspire any artist to do better! Check out his website and time lapse videos to see his amazing work.
Anyway, critical to detail work with pastel (as with colored pencil) is a very sharp point. I think I’ve been a little lax in that respect. That, I’ll have to work on. Another aspect is planning and drawing in detail prior to filling in color. I need to concentrate more on drawing in the line work first, just as I do with colored pencil. I alluded to the similarity between colored pencil and pastel pencils at the beginning, but somehow I failed to keep that in mind as I went forward. I blocked in areas of color first and had problems drawing in the line work on top. The blocked in color didn’t always correspond to the line work, and so I would have to work over those areas again and again. Gradually I’m getting a better feel for the medium. Again, keep a sharp point, draw in the line work and gradually fill in the color. Always keep a sharp point if you want detail. Same as colored pencil!
I’ve added some Stabilo Carb Othello pastel pencils to the mix to get the proper colors. The few basic colors I’m using now to get in the chest fur for Peaches are Carb Othello 105 (ivory), 615 (dark ochre), Faber Castell Pitt Pastel 280 (burnt umber), 169 (caput mortuum) and 182 (brown ochre).
I have to say, though, that I’m enjoying the pastel and will probably continue using it.
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby CarlOwen » Fri Jan 08, 2016 5:46 pm

Truly a work of love. Either remember the five stages of grief or look it up. Either way, you are progressing nicely. Take your time as you know you must to do justice to this work of art. I look forward to seeing it finished, but I have the time to wait to see it.
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby jenn_iam » Fri Jan 08, 2016 6:04 pm

coming along beautifully.
May your world be painted in the Brightest of colors!

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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby RichardDevine » Fri Jan 15, 2016 12:41 pm

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 8
As I sit here in my kitchen this morning, writing my latest update, looking out into my back yard, it’s pouring outside. We’re under a severe thundershower threat. I welcome the rain, however. I like rain. In addition to loving art, I’m a gardener, too - have been for many decades. All the plants in our garden – the Azaleas, the Camellias, the Andromedas and the Hydranges - can use the water. Although we’re in the midst of an El Nino, here where I live, we haven’t received a great deal of rainfall yet this winter.
I’m also sitting in my kitchen writing this, rather than in my den, because we’re in the midst of house training a new member of the family – Heidi - a beautiful little cocker spaniel girl. She’s chocolate and tan, with interesting tan eyebrows – and light, blue green eyes. We’ve got the kitchen blocked off to keep track of her until she’s trained. She’s a good for us, keeping us from dwelling on the loss of Peaches, and we’re forming a bond – a long one – we hope.

Now, to Update 8 of the portrait of Peaches. The portrait is taking shape, as I’ve gotten more of the details in. I’m keeping sharp points on the pastel pencils now, sharpening them often with a single edge razor blade. Using a sharp point, I drew in the fur details over the entire body, and then started working in the details. Three dimensional form is now becoming evident. At this stage I’m working in details of the fur. I’ll put in some darks using a combination of Carb Othello (CO) dark ochre, Pitt Pastel (PP) burnt umber and a bit of PP caput mortuum here and there to define the masses. Within the masses, impressions of hair is stroked in with PP brown ochre, CO dark ochre, and highlights with CO ivory and white. I’ve also introduced CO 692, golden ochre light to the fur masses, as it seems to be a good match for the lighter fur. I also use it to highlight hair strands.
At this stage the colors are just worked together, blending them to soften the look of the fur, to define edges and deep shadows, to define errant hair, and to highlight areas struck by light. Layering in the colors also eliminates the color of the paper. I also define the outer edges of the body form by deepening the background with PP burnt umber.
I’ll continue in this manner over the rest of the body, defining edges and shadows, bringing out highlights, and hinting at individual hairs here and there.
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby CarlOwen » Fri Jan 15, 2016 1:17 pm

Absolutely outstanding Richard. Your drawing of course and the fact that you got Heidi. I am so pleased for you and your wife. It will be different, but just as pleasurable as with Peaches, maybe even more so. But you will experience that with time. You see, you will see a lot of Peaches in Heidi, but Heidi will re-train you to attend to her according to her personality and wishes. Glad you are on a new adventure.
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby ehoeveler » Fri Jan 15, 2016 2:34 pm

Carl, well said. Richard, her golden curls, eyes, expression and nose say, I am Peaches and I'm here to stay!
Beautiful in only the way You can render. Thank You So Much, E
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Re: Work In Progress: Peaches

Postby jenn_iam » Fri Jan 15, 2016 2:36 pm

So thrilled for your new addition of Heidi. I raise Boxers and know how 'part of the family' they are and worm their way into our hearts.. the loss of one of them is no different to me than any other loss of a loved one. And though Heidi will never replace Peaches, she will help refill the vacancy left with new love. Your Drawing, Richard, of Peaches... Wow!!! You are knocking it out of the Park... I absolutely love watching your progressions... Am so thankful share them as you do. :)
May your world be painted in the Brightest of colors!

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