Pastel Madness!

I haven't forgotten this blog! I've been creating a lot lately. I'll be back soon to update and share!

Sneak Preview of What I've Been Up To
Monday is here, and it was almost gone when I remembered that I had planned to update my blog today. But, I was working on art. A super secret project for one of my closest friends birthday. Her birthday is on Wednesday but I won't be giving her my creation until Saturday. So that's one new project you won't get to see today since I hope my friends at least, read this! Ha! However I will tell you it involves acrylics and my first ever REAL canvas. And let me tell you, it was a joy to work on a real canvas. Even if it was the fourth freaking time I did this specific project. *grumble, moan, grumble*
I'll share those details later.
But for now, on to the other work!
Two years ago for Christmas, my mom gave me hard pastels. I had never worked with them before. They are in stick form (in fact, I believe the label called them Color Sticks) and there are two types. The thicker pastels work like a dream. I can color right onto the paper with them. However the thinner ones are very dense, and the color doesn't, well, color as well. However, I had an idea and I had to see it realized.

The first one I did was the beginning of the vision. At the time, I hadn't intended on a series. But once I began, I couldn't stop! I wanted to do some fun scroll lines, and some color and put them together in an interesting way. The result was this:

I began by sketching out the basic shapes. Then I started adding the scroll work. I realized as I was drawing the lines and curlicues, that I wanted the stars linked to the moon as if they sprang from it. Once I had that done, I had to decide how I wanted to color it. The pastels seemed to be the way to go. I had watched a video that Johanna Basford did some time ago, where she showed her fans how they could color backgrounds with hard pastels. I thought I might be able to do the same thing, and find a way to use those pastels at the same time. So I grabbed my container of pastels, a craft knife, a small bowl, some blending stumps, cotton swabs, and my kneadable eraser and began working.
I found the blending stumps worked best for the detailed areas around the lines and circles. If I just blended right over the pencil, it smudged that into the pastel as well, dirtying the color. For the larger areas, the cotton swabs, pointy ones I had purchased to clean up nail polish on the cuticles, worked best.
I scraped the sticks clean into a bowl as they tend to get dirty bumping into each other, and then set about scraping the stick into a pile of the very fine powder on the surface of the paper. Not knowing what exactly my goal was, I did the background before I did the moon. It worked, I just had to place a clean sheet of paper under my hand when I worked on the moon.

Once I had the colors on and blended, I had to decide what I wanted to do with the stars. I felt, to color them would be too much, but I didn't want to leave them just white. So I got out my Zig Wink of Stella brush pens and used the clear glitter. Can I just say, I love those pens!! And I loved the final result of the overall art. I let it set for a day or two, and then I sprayed it with fixative. Everyone that saw the image loved it. And I was immediately asked to replicate it for one of my closest friends. I told her I would, but she would have to wait. There were others telling me to create them.
Suddenly, I had to do a whole series. And I had to go bigger.
I mean, you can't have the glowing moon without the light of the sun, right?

This one I went about a little differently. I drew it, same as before. It took me a couple attempts to get the sun flares how I liked them. And I figured, since the sun was so large and such a focal point already, I would just replicate a little of its swirls and dots around it. If I were to go back, I might do that part different. But, the art is what it is now. Prior to this one, I had made a trip to the dollar store. I wanted some makeup brushes to use for this work. I found a small pack of eyeshadow brushes and a big fluffy powder brush. I started scraping the pastel onto the image, not sure how I wanted the colors to be placed but just going with the flow. I used a stump to color the flares, and got out my trusty pointy cotton swabs to work on the sun. I soon found the reds, oranges, and yellows really liked to intermingle, and I let them do what they wanted. The results are this gorgeous sun that ranges from bright lemony yellow, to peachy pink, to rose red. But, how would I do the background?
Enter the fluffy brush! I began swirling it around, taking the loose pastel from the sun and blending it into every inch of the paper with the brush. The result is the light of the sun glowing from the paper.

Oh, what could I do next? The possibilities were endless, but I already had a vision.
Larger paper. And a planet with its moon. This one would be clearly in space, I needed a black background, but not all black and not harsh. The planet came easy. A suggestion of land and seas as it spins in a blur of color. It's colors are reflected in its steadfast moon. Both are linked by complimentary scrolls.

The black I realized would have to be done with something other than a pastel stick-I was afraid I'd run out before I finished. So I grabbed a great big stick of charcoal and went at it with my craft blade. Blending was tricky. Some spots refused to blend. Some were better. Cotton swabs and blending stumps weren't enough. And I didn't want to contaminate the fluffy brush. So here I used cotton rounds on my fingers. This was way out in space. I didn't want to do the obvious star shape this time. Instead I did starbursts. Both large and small, I filled them in with a little gouache paint. There is no sparkle in this piece as well. I feel the colors in the planet and moon, which are also found in the space around them, are enough to add punch to this.

But I still wasn't done. There was one more I wanted to do, however it would require a trip to that inner sanctum of craft stores. Armed with a 50% off 1 item coupon, and a 20% off entire purchase on my app, I stepped into Michael's and bought the largest of all their mixed media papers. When I came home, I realized two things:

  1. I had a brand preference.
  2. I would need to find space for this mother.
In between finishing the planet above and starting on my largest work, I did a small one on the smallest sized paper I just had to have one in every size. Simple and quick were two things I appreciated. (These things seriously take a long time!) Here I used all three of my Zig Wink of Stellas glitter brush pens. Clear, gold and silver. And instead of scraping the powder off the stick, I used it directly on the paper. The result is a bit more intense.

I also asked my friend what size she'd like her moon. Of course she answered with the BIG ONE!
I reorganized my closet to fit that big pad of paper. (I don't do things halfway. To make room for one, I'd need to make room for them all to fit together.) And that meant a complete rework.

But there was one more, before I made hers. When I did the planet above, I drew the lines three times. First in pencil, then I went over the lines with marker before and after coloring it. So. Much. Work. My hand hated me. I thought doing the lines in black before coloring would save me time. But the pastel just gets everywhere and I realized that my lines were dull and dusty.
This time, I only did them once in pencil, and once in marker. Good thing too, because this was HUGE.

The pad of paper was almost as large as my art table!
But I was determined to make this vision come to life. And in it, I added some new elements (the vines and leaves connecting the continents rather than just scrolls) and some of everything from every piece that came before it.
Another close friend asked me for an image of all of them together. I set up a white board and used some pushpins and binder clips, and created a sort of on the fly gallery display.

Let me tell you...this? This was a labor of love. Love for the work. Because if I didn't love the work, I would not have done all of these. Seriously, my hand and wrist HATED me after each of these.

I took a break. I couldn't do this again for a while. I had to rest my hand.
In the meantime, I finished another painting I had started previous to this endeavor.
It's not perfect, it's (as is typical for me) not necessarily what I imagined. But, I like it. It's different.

Ok, that's enough screwing around. I wanted to get my other friends birthday present started (that's the next blog post, I swear! I know this one is realllllllllllly long) but, I had to get the "Commissioned Work" done first.
It too, took time, but I had been here before so I knew from trial and error what to do. I drew the lines in pencil once, scraped the pastel onto the image, moon first, and then went over everything with marker. The only thing that I dislike is that the marker bled when I went over it with the Wink of Stella. Maybe if I ever do something like this again, I should spray it with fixative before I do the Zig. It seems to be pretty bonded on its own, and though the fixative doesn't really fix the pastel to the paper, it'll help with that at least.

Lighting washes the colors out a bit, and blocks the glitter from photographing. The largest stars are glittered, the next largest are colored a little with yellow and glittered. The remainder stars are not colored. I wanted to keep this one similar to the first one-the original, so I used cotton swabs and stumps to do the blending. Now I just need to get some brown paper to protect it and a tube in which to mail it.

And here is a sneak preview of what is going into my secret project!


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