We are going to go through my pastel process - step by step.
Winter VistaWinter Vista
Presented below are the stages of one of my pastels titled Winter Vista. Keep in mind this presentation is a generalization - I do not always approach my pastels in this manner - creating my work is a very intuitive process, not a formula....(above) Victoria Taylor-Gore, Winter Vista, pastel, 10 x 14 inches, 2004
I usually do a preparatory drawing - just to work out my general design. As you will see, I do not feel compelled to duplicate the sketch exactly - I will make changes in the design when I enlarge it for the pastel - see below.
Lots of adjustments have been made in the drawing to make the composition work . I work on black paper (actually a dark charcoal color), and draw the lines of the composition with a light color pastel pencil. I personally like starting with a colored paper - makes the pastel really rich - and there are great colors in pastel papers - a medium value brown colored paper is really nice too.
I start blocking large areas of color and some value, and I do not smooth the pastel at this stage - I keep the texture pretty rough until the final stages of the pastel. The colors and values will change as the pastel progresses - this is like establishing an under painting in a painting - in some areas the color underneath contrasts the final colors that will go on top later.
Now I get more specific about the colors and start to contrast values - the texture is still rough, but with each additional layer of pastel, the color gets richer and a little smoother. You can't get velvety blends without being generous with your application of pastel - the more layers of pastel, the richer it gets.
This is the fun part - lots of the work is done (establishing the color and value) and now I start to blend the pastel with my fingers. If you choose to blend the pastels with your fingers as I do, make sure you keep your fingers clean - oil and sweat collects on your fingertips, and your skin oils will blend into the pastel, making it slick, shiny and difficult to blend. I also add subtle color transitions in this stage, and make any last minute changes.
This is the final pastel - just more blending and refining, and as some of the drawing gets faded due to all that pastel dust getting on other areas of the drawing, so I go back over the areas that faded out. I also have to go back and define edges (this gets a bit tedious, but it is worth it).