Friday, January 25, 2013

"Stylized Self Portrait" - An Expressionist Painting with Pastel and Graphite

"Stylized Self Portrait"     8.5" x 11"     Pastel and Graphite on Paper
PRINTS will be available soon from Fine Art America

I decided that now that I'm 29 and all (yup, only one year left until the infamous 3-0!), that I wanted to try out something a little different today. I mean, for me, that's what this 30 Day Challenge is all about - trying out new styles, new tools, new techniques, and of course, new subject matter. So, that led to this... Me. Stylized. I hope you like it, because just like me, it's a little different and not quite perfect, was quite challenging to work with, a bit overstated, and yet soft and sweet as well. I don't know, half the time I find myself to be this annoyingly loud, overwhelming and energetic person, and the rest of the time I find myself to be gentle, soft, calming and sensitive (though I wonder if other people ever see me that way?). If I could only see and know how other people perceived me, I imagine that would be quite interesting... Although interesting usually isn't that great of a thing, depending on how people say it, am I right?! Lol! Oh man, anyways, as a little side note, I worked with what I thought to be a very limited palette of yellow, yellow ochre, orange, salmon, red, brown, white, black and aqua, (limited in the sense that so many of the colors were on the yellow, orange, and red spectrum of the color wheel) which was not only quite a challenge but was also an awesome learning experience as well. I think I shall be testing out trying to work with more and more limited palettes a bit more often from here on out, because I know that in doing so one can create amazing harmony within their paintings, if they can learn the tricks of how to use and mix colors to their fullest potential.

Well, it just so happens that I took yesterday off for my birthday, not so much by choice but by necessity really (I guess I'll be doing twice the work today to make up for it, because I am WAY too much of a perfectionist to let one of these days slip by without at least trying to get a painting in during this challenge, not to mention I just really want to have all 30 on Leslie's wall by the end so I can say I truly did it!).  So today I had my 6 hr. weekly commitment for my chronic pain class over in Martinez, and oh boy, was that ever exciting... =(  And when I got home from that, we had to go pick up a prescription, but had to transfer it first and then had to wait around for it and then... You get the picture. Anyways, I barely had the chance to even see my family today, and even when I did my pain was a little too intense to do very much with them. However, I did have two particularly sweet moments that I will treasure forever! The first was waking up to my husband and my boys, huddled around my bed singing "Happy Birthday" with a cupcake flavored pop-tart in one hand, and a tray of good ole fashioned plastic cupcakes in the other, that Levi had baked up in his oven specially just for me. Apparently, he couldn't wait, and "ate" one on the way up the stairs, but it was so adorable my heart melted right out of my body into a little puddle on the floor. I LOVED every second of that special moment, and will treasure it forever!

The second memorable moment was after the boys went down to bed and I got out the fine china, decorated the table, and ate take-home Chili's that was a gift of some good friends, Rachel and Jeffrey, (complete with cheesecake too - oh yum, yum!) by candlelight with the man who has stolen my heart time and time again. We sipped tea and talked, and it was beautiful.

So I guess my birthday wasn't too bad of a bust after all, if I focus on the sweet little moments rather than dwell on all that didn't happen today. I love my family and friends, and was shown so much love by them all today and that is what truly matters. And the simple yet astounding fact that God even allowed me to merely just wake up one more day, and to have these sacred little moments to treasure with those I love, for that is truly something never to be taken for granted!

So today's tip is that you can actually use a paint brush to blend soft pastels (maybe everybody on earth knew that except me already, but I just found that out and had to try it immediately!)! My take on it is this: what was once a very frustrating medium, (cough, cough... Pastels, those messy little stinkers!) is now loads of fun so I thought I'd pass the info on to you just in case you didn't know about it either. Of course you can always use your handy-dandy finger, but for some reason the brush lends to some gorgeous blending that I couldn't have possibly achieved without it, so it's worth a shot. Well, unless you're like one of those majorly impressive professional pastel artists, and then I'm sure you can do a ridiculous amount more than I could possibly even ever dream of, in which case you're probably laughing at this tip anyways. =0)  But, if you're like me and have seldom ever used this medium before, I found this method to be so much more fun than I even expected that I could hardly believe I was even using pastels in the first place! So next time you're fussing around with pastels and possibly getting all irritated with the fact that you're entirely covered in them from head to toe, like I tend to be, grab a paint brush and get to work. It sure is less messy this way, that's for sure, and I just absolutely loved the results! I will definitely be trying this again with some other styles of pastel painting as well as pastel forms, like oil and crayon (who knew they had pastel crayons?! So excited over here!!!), and I seriously can't wait to get to work on more of them! And this coming from someone who normally hates working with pastels, so that should say a lot right there! =D


  1. Oh, I really like her eyes! By the way, have you ever tried blending stumps? they work great too!

    1. Thank you Kyra! And yes, I absolutely adore blending stumps when I draw, but I never thought of using them with pastels for some reason... Wow, thanks for the awesome tip! I'll be trying that the next time for sure! =D

  2. Happy Birthday (a day late)! I love the self portrait - absolutely adorable!

    1. Thank you so much Tania!!! This is so sweet of you! =D

  3. I agree, the eyes are amazing! Wonderful portrait, especially for the first try!!! Thank you for the tip, Melissa! I was mixing pastels with my finger (what a surprise!))), and that's not fun at all, can't believe I've never thought about using brush!)))

    WOW, you have 26 posts at January 26! I seriously envy your blogging abilities now! :))

    P.S.: A little too late, but Happy Birthday!!!

    1. Thank you soooo, so much Irina! I was seriously worried I might be the only one who didn't know about that, so I'm glad you were with me there. The brush is just revolutionary, let me tell ya! And thank you - I honestly can't believe I have 26 posts up to date already. It's amazing!!! I've never blogged so much in my life, and I absolutely love it! Not sure I'll be able to keep this up much longer after the challenge is over, but I sure want to try my hardest too. And a sweet birthday wish is never too late - I still haven't even opened any of my presents yet because I'm waiting 'til we can celebrate with family, so you're not even really late after all! =D


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