Work in Progress
The start of my latest sketch (which will be a portrait of a snow leopard). I’m using 2, 4, and 6B charcoal pencils on 80lb Strathmore “Windpower” paper, 9.5×12 (this size is great for 8×10 sketches because you get two wide margins for handling & pencil tests).
If you view the photo up close, you can see what’s left of my reference grid, which I’ll erase as I go along. I nearly always finish the upper left first and move outward, since I’m right-handed.
More to come soon!
“Atsina,” 16×32 pastel on suede (click image for larger view or visit my Gallery for more.)
About the Atsina
The Atsina people are often known by the name given to them by French traders, “Gros Ventre” (pronounced “Grow Vaunt”). They call themselves the A’aninin, or the White Clay People.
As one of the Algonquian-speaking peoples, they lived for thousands of years lived in large farming communities around the Great Lakes. When the first horses roamed into the northern Plains, the Atsina – like their close relations, the Arapaho – became nomadic and migrated west to hunt buffalo for their livelihood. Like many Plains Indians in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Atsina depended on the bison for food, tools, building materials, and clothing, such as the robe the young woman in this painting wears.
The first European explorers heading across the North American continent, such as Lewis and Clark, recorded their meetings with the Atsina; the pioneer artist Karl Bodmer painted many of their portraits and watercolors of their villages. Following early contact, however, they suffered greatly from epidemics such as smallpox. As conflicts with white settlers and the army reached a high, the Atsina allied at times with the Blackfoot, and at other times with the Crow. They successfully avoided forced relocations that sent many of their neighbors to Oklahoma, and today most Atsina still live in their Montana homeland.
Moving along, but still a ways to go. You can see how I’ve added the “shadow effect” to keep the figure from disappearing into the backdrop (compare to the first stage photo where you can see the original suede color).
I’m using a blend of brown chalks in both the robe and the background, with sepia as the dominant tone (Nupastel 293) – it suggests a warm, almost dreamy atmosphere. Wide, lengthwise strokes with the chalk are especially good for texturing and shading.
More to come soon…
Stage #2 of my portrait of an Atsina girl – roughing in the first portions of the buffalo robe and buckskin dress. Click the photo to enlarge:
For the face I started out with an initial layer of black (for shadows) and my favorite Sennelier red ochre. A little bit of Nupastel 353 (“Cordovan red”) and it’s beginning to look a bit more human. I’ll add the highlighting on the cheeks and nose last. I also added the some of the same red tones to the hair, to indicate reflected light.
In the original Curtis photo, the girl is wearing a gorgeous floor-length buffalo robe. The color of the buckskin will stand out against the suede backdrop once I’ve blended a darker color around the edges for contrast. A little background shadow will add depth and pull the picture together.
More coming soon!
Painting a Wolf in Pastels – Part 4
Ok, NOW it’s done. I’ll be posting a photo of the finished framed painting shortly. For now you can see it up on my Gallery.
I saved the finest details for last, for instance you’ll notice a few whiskers and claws (plus the sparkle in the eye), but no major changes.
As far as the background and rock setting, I randomly blended some dark greens, blues, and browns into the black suede to give indication of a natural setting; nothing distracting. The rocky ground was also straightforward; I used some of the browns from my wolf’s palette (Nupastels 313 and 283) and the side of a black chalk to block in some craggy textures – no underpainting here, I wanted to keep the texture rough.
Last of all I’ve added my signature using my trusty Pilot marker (for more on this check out my Artist’s Tip Bag post How to Sign a Pastel on Suede Painting).