Welcome to my blog, Pastels in Progress! Discover the secrets and inner-workings of my drawing/painting process! Find out about my new ideas, inspiration, upcoming events, news, and favorite quotes! View discussions of interesting art-related concepts! Share positive comments and opinions! Ask questions! Enjoy!
| 17 July, 2014 17:06
"The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time." Thank goodness! Because I've spent the last week or so making art that goes under the category, for the moment at least, of "just for fun." Check out some of my latest cartoons. Discover the processes and inspiration behind a few of them. And smile. I did.
This first one is my shout out to summer. In spite of the fact that summer comes with sweaty, swealtering heat, there is also much to appreciate about these all too brief days of sunshine: wildflowers by the highway, s'mores, thunderstorms, long, lingering daylight, bicycles, camping, swimming, iced tea, outdoor concerts, fairs and food on sticks, hiking in cool quiet woods, and one of my personal all time favorites, sweet, juicy, sugary watermelon!
The Fourth of July
Fireworks on the Fourth of July is another thrilling thing about summer. For the last several years, every time this holiday rolls around, my goal has been to photograph an absolutley amazing and stunning photo of Fourth of July fireworks. Something that captures the awesomeness of the explosions of color in the sky. While I don't know if I've yet truly been successful in this endeavor, it did eventually inspire this next cartoon.
First, I thought about all the things that symbolize the Fourth of July. Fireworks, barbecues, parades, the American flag and so on. Then I considered which of those I wanted to illustrate this year. I decided on fireworks, but also wanted to include the flag, of course. This was the Fourth of July, after all. Not just any display of fireworks. With my vision in hand, I set about finding images to work from.
This is what I came up with. There's the flag and a view, albeit a coloring page of fireworks in the sky, along with some ideas for color.
July Fourth is a holiday for many people in the United States. I envisioned relaxing, laughing, and wrapping the day all up with those exciting explosions in the sky. So, this was my first drawing:
But wait! This was me, yes. Complete with purple polish on those toenails I showed off in my flip flops. And relaxing yes. Flag and fireworks. Check. But, it wasn't really me on the Fourth of July. So I made some changes:
And said goodbye to purple toenail polish for now . . .
At last I was ready to outline and color! As my cartoons tend to be quite a bit smaller than my pastel artworks, the little bits of color I've begun to add recently, I've done with colored pencil. At 14" x 11," this piece was slightly bigger. I've also been creating these cartoons on cardstock and, recently, smooth bristol board. Neither of those papers have any tooth and as such, do not lend themselves very well to coloring with pastel. So I began with prismacolor colored pencils in addition to prismacolor art stix, a stick form of colored pencil meant for larger areas. I spent 3 hours on the sky! And I still was not happy with the results:
Maybe it was because I was in a hurry. But, I didn't like the atmosphere in the sky. There were too many lines. It wasn't smooth enough. Or dark enough. The fireworks weren't glowing . . . What could I do? I wondered, frustrated and disappointed.
I had some BFK Rives paper in my studio. It has a very soft absorbent and velvety texture. It's also suitable for pastels as I've used it almost exclusively for those in the past. What if I transferred the drawing to that paper and tried, just tried using pastels? After all, I'd just done 8 miniatures. Surley, I could be as detailed and careful on an 11" x 14" size of paper! Gigantic compared to 6" x 4"! So I did. And here is my first cartoon done in pastels!
July is apparently National Ice Cream month. Who knows? Regardless, ice cream is also one of the best things about summer! And the hot July days would be a welcome time to enjoy some. So here is a quick cartoon I came up with to celebrate that fact!
One for my Dad
I woke up a couple mornings ago savoring the sweet delight of being able to sleep in and not wake up to an alarm. Then, I remembered that my dad, on the other side of the state, had not slept in that day. He'd gotten up at 2:30 in the morning to go run a marathon. From what I'd been seeing on social media sites and hearing from my mom, he felt very uncertain about whether he would be able to run the entire thing or even finish it. He travels a lot in the summer for work which translates into not always having enough time to train as necessary and prepare adequately for a race like that.
Over my breakfast that morning, I thought that maybe there was some way I could encourage him a little bit and show him that no matter what happened, he was crazy just for trying! Also pretty strong in a brave, courageous, driven sort of way. . .
Anyway, what better way to accomplish my desires than by a cartoon!? I remembered a "running" quote I'd seen once that he really seemed to like. And then set about finding a cartoon model of a runner that I could use to draw my dad.
When I begin my cartoons, I try to find clip art or cartoons of people, or even animals, in the poses and with the props that I am looking at based on whatever theme I've chosen. Eventually, I decided on the model shown below. On the right, is the quote I selected, which I later learned has always been one of his favorites.
Here is the original drawing I came up with:
Check out that crazy smile! I wasn't sure it was working for me. Aside from the fact that his expression bordered, in my opinion, on "crazed-insane," it didn't seem to fit the mood of the text which seemed a bit more serious. Also, I didn't like that he barely had any room. There was no space on the edge of the paper and he was crunched up against the text. I made some changes: making the text smaller, taking that smile off his face and giving him a more earnest expression, like he's working for this a little bit.
Then, I decided I didn't want to leave the background white. But wasn't sure I could pull off the green glow of the original quote picture with colored pencils. I also wanted my dad to be colorful and nice and vibrant, which meant I couldn't do an underpainting in that space. I would need to leave that area white. Otherwise, the colors would end up a little more dull and not as intense as I was looking for. The letters, I could likely paint over as I planned to make them dark, similar to the original quote. After mulling it over for a bit, I tried some watercolor but left the area around my dad white. This is how it looked with the watercolor and the text complete:
And the finished cartoon:
My dad really liked it. And, he did finish the race that day.
| 08 July, 2014 14:08
New Gallery Representation!
I am excited to anounce that the four miniature artworks below are now hanging at Q's Art Shop located at 1511 6th Ave. N. Suites B & C, Billings, MT 59101. Stop in and see them! Q's hours are Tuesday through Saturday 1-5pm, or you can call and schedule an appointment/ask questions by calling (406) 248-1102.
One of my newest pastels, Tiny Package, LOTS-A Attitude, won a first place award in an online gallery competition! The work is featured in Focus Point & Shape's Cats Art Exhibition which runs July 6 through September 30, 2014. Find it here: http://focuspointshape.com/exhibitions/cats-art-exhibition/.
| 15 June, 2014 22:49
A few weeks ago, I was cruising through my Facebook home page and saw an inquiring post from the Artist's Network page. Father's Day is approaching, it read. How has your father inspired your artwork? Have you ever painted a picture of him? Readers were encouraged to send an e-mail with a picture and share their stories. Well, it just so happened that my father has been the subject of a few of my art works and he has also been an inspiration to me in becoming an artist. So, I wrote my little two hundred words or less story, selected my pastel, Napping Together, and made my submission. Then, a week or so later, I was notified that my painting had been selected for inclusion in the Father's Day blog article that the Artist's Network was publishing! Here is the link below! I hope you check it out!
My dad, bless his heart, has been "priviledged" to be the subject of more than one of my works: the pastel featured in the article above, the cartoon I created for him for Christmas, and one of my earliest cartoons featured below. And I'm sure he's going to be in more work to come! Thanks for being a good sport dad!
He enjoys spending time in the wilderness and activities such as bicycling, hiking, mountain climbing, and camping. More often than not, he ends up being my hiking buddy. We tromp along mountain trails and he spews out facts about the trail, names of mountains, and such. They are great times! Love you Dad!
| 13 January, 2014 18:58
Winter usually means snow. It blankets the landscape. Falls silently. Glistens and sparkles. "Silver dreams under a blue winter sky," and so on. It also means fierce, cutting, almost painful cold! Ice. Ugly, treacherous driving conditions. White knuckles on the steering wheel. And frozen nose hairs when you take a breath of frigid air! This season, we've had lots of snow. As well as days and days of zero degree weather with even colder wind chills. For at least one solid week, I drove around town with flutters in my tummy while I tried to remember to breathe. So though I have a new goal to create a winter pastel painting this year, and I usually look forward to piling on warm cozy blankets and plenty of hot chocolate, at this point, even I have had about all the winter I can stand! So lately, this is what I've been thinking . . .
| 25 December, 2013 20:36
Merry Christmas everybody! I've got some cartoons done in the spirit of the season. Enjoy and have a lovely holiday!
This is usually the reaction I get when I sing. But, I do it anyway!
And this is what I look like in my kitchen around the holidays. Actually, baking is one of my favorite hobbies! This drawing and the next are the two I used for my holiday cards this year.
Yes, I do love cookies. Perhaps even more than Santa!
And for this last Christmas one, I finally really listened to the song "The Little Drummer Boy" very carefully this year. And I noticed the line that says, "the ox and lamb kept time . . ." And I got to thinking, what do an ox and lamb really know about keeping time? Or even music for that matter? I don't want to offend anyone, and perhaps there's an explanation for that choice of lyrics that I will yet learn about, but it just struck me as humorous and this is what I came up with:
Lastly, I decided to draw a cartoon as a gift for my dad this year. You may have heard of this online store known as successories? They create motivational posters and various other items meant to encourage and inspire. My dad was eyeing a poster featuring a rock climber trying to haul his bicycle up a rope. I decided that this was something MY dad would try to do, and that it was certainly cartoon material in any case. So I made a few changes, the big one being replacing my dad as the main character in the scene, and this is what I came up with:
| 07 December, 2013 16:34
It may seem like an eternity already, but it was only last week. Thanksgiving. That time of year when we are perhaps a little more mindful of sharing our gratitude and appreciation. When love and blessings make us feel warm and fuzzy inside, even if the weather is fiercely cold and ferocious outside! Last week, I was thankful to spend time with my family including the furry four legged members! There was laughter and smiles, and warmth and love, and inspiration for this cartoon:
I just stumbled across this quote, "when a dog is in your life, there is always a reason to laugh." Keiko, the dog in the cartoon, certainly makes that true! And, I confess, she does get laptime . . .
For Mom . . .
I drew this one a couple weeks ago. My mom has been pretty sick for some time now and I just wanted to do something to encourage her. This one is for you mom! Hang in there! Our thoughts, love, and prayers are with you!
In the studio . . .
Look what's on my drawing table!
A kitten! This is Thor, a friend's cat. He's a handsome striped guy with beautiful eyes!
And on my easel, I'm working on this sunflower . . .
. . . because as the saying goes, "into every life, some sunshine must come!"
| 18 November, 2013 18:49
Have you ever read a book you just couldn't put down? The kind where the very first sentence grabs you and holds you captive for all the tantalizing sentences and pages that follow? When life forces you to tear yourself away from such a book, it is constantly in your thoughts. It calls to you and haunts you. Eventually, it succeeds in drawing you back to it. And then, it keeps you awake at night, kidnaps your better judgment (forget dishes, or mopping, or laundry), projects are abandoned (crocheting and drawing are out the window), and becomes the reason you are late for work.
I read these kinds of books a lot, taking advantage of every spare moment when I do. Thus, I usually always make time to read before I go to sleep each night. Sometimes, when I am still reading at two in the morning on a work night, this turns out not to be a good idea. Once in a while, though, I wish I could stay awake longer! Have you ever slept with a book hoping that somehow all its seductive phrases could seep into your soul? Crazy as it sounds, I have (I think I was 12). It’s a desperate wish that is unlikely ever to work, but it did provide the inspiration for this recent cartoon:
This could be the life! I've got my book, and a kitty and a dog. Now if only this was something that could actually, really work!
| 03 November, 2013 16:57
"Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart." This quote by Kahlil Gibran is the inspiration for the title of my newest rose piece, a full, vibrant orange and fushia blossom, flanked by two deeper red buds. The vivid colors of the flower and leaves burst out of a dark, nebulous background of deep blue.
"The Light in the Heart," Pastel
At first, I was stumped for a title. I wanted something other than, "Rose 2," or "One Rose, Two Buds," or "Pink and Orange Rose." I wanted something less literal and more thought provoking. Looking at the spotlight of the picture, the big orange rose, I noticed how the dark pink and fushia petals cradled the inner luminous orange ones. This made me think of phrases like "inner light," or "inner glow." And these made me start to think that while rose buds are beautiful and exciting in their own right, representing something new and fresh, the full glory of the rose isn't revealed until all of the petals unravel and open and we get to see inside. Much like people.
| 26 October, 2013 22:12
Last week, I spent several days with a couple of my favorite furry friends, a goofy and loveable Great Dane named Keiko, and a sassy and sometimes loveable cat named Wiggles. Sometimes loveable because as far as Wiggles is concerned, my mother is the center of her universe and she's not very cuddly with strangers, defined as anyone other than mom. To be fair, she is still very, very young and hasn't really learned the art of cuddling.
I enjoyed spending a few days with her, though, because I think we have made a start at friendship. At last. My mother and I came up with a plan to bribe her onto my lap which included: yarn. My mother deposited the little black splotch of a kitten on my lap while I was crocheting one afternoon and thereafter, the snaking string, and the darting of that flashy crochet hook proved too much temptation to resist.
She would fly across the room and plop into my lap with a devilish gleam twinkling in her yellow eyes and vengeance on her mind. She did not discriminate either. All of the crochet instruments would fall victim to her swiping claws: the string of yarn, the hook, the entire skein, the actual project, and sometimes my fingers!
Occasionally, she would wear herself out and curl up in sleep, a little spot of warmth seeping through my jeans. These were the sweetest moments!
Below is a photo of her with all of "her" crochet paraphernalia:
I also had the chance to visit some other furry friends of ours and got some great photos which I can't wait to make into pastel paintings in the near future! So, check back soon!
| 12 October, 2013 17:22
I've got an assortment of things going at the moment, from cartoons to a couple more flowers. Here are a couple views of the latest rose:
This is the drawing. There are two rose buds flanking an open rose in all its glory.
In this photo, I've pretty much finished the background and most of the "green." As you can see, the background is very dark with little detail. The flower is just going to radiate out of that. The leaves already seem to glow. The colors in the rose are going to be brilliant!
| 25 September, 2013 15:30
Occasionally a thought or random piece of inspiration strikes me and I get this funny image in my mind. And then, I spend a little time doodling in my sketchbook and wa-la! A cartoon. Here is what I've been up to the last couple of days in my spare time.
The other night, there was a spider on my ceiling. I have nothing against bugs, but if they get in my living space, they better be prepared to depart this world as a smudge on the bottom of one of my shoes. But, my ceilings in my apartment are quite high. So, I knew that getting this creepy dude was likely going to involve a step stool and thus, taking my life into my hands. What if he jumped out at me? And I fell off the stool and critically injured myself? This did not sound appealing. The spider was safe for the moment. But, I did start to consider things I could use to squash this guy that had a little more range:
When frightened, the imagination has no limits, right? Sure I would have a hole in my ceiling, but when it comes to the insect population, sometimes sacrifices have to be made. Which painted some amusing pictures in my mind. I was imagining the whole ceiling coming down. And picturing the reaction from my upstairs neighbor. And a bunch of other possibilities. So, the above cartoon is what I came up with.
One thing about my cartoons is I usually have some random ideas and images and I've thought of what direction I want it to go, but I'm never quite sure how they are going to come together. And I could probably take the same idea and come up with a million other images. There are so many possibilities! For instance, I finished this one and then got to thinking that it'd be just my luck that I miss the darn spider. So then, I added him to the lower right corner having a good chuckle:
I think I got the spider the other night. He moved around the edge of the ceiling and I am pretty sure I got him with the end of my broom. It's possible that he scrambled off somewhere else and is yet lurking around waiting to surprise me. Spiders move so fast! But, I'm trying not to think about that. . .
Fun with Keep Calm and Carry On
The world seems to have gone crazy with this saying and an infinite variety of phrases are showing up all over the place. The idea for my other cartoon I drew this week came to me as I was driving around taking care of errands around town last weekend. I drove past a yarn shop with a sign outside that said, "Keep calm and carry yarn." I had a good laugh at that and then considered it's potential:
I am an avid crochet fiend in my spare time so this saying is perfect for me!
| 20 September, 2013 00:47
And here is the finished piece!
| 19 September, 2013 23:39
Here are a couple photos of my yellow rose a little further along:
Here, the background is pretty much complete. Now for the really fun part!
| 16 September, 2013 13:11
I recently took a trip to Oregon where there is very likely a rose garden in every city. Heaven! It was a little late in the season, but there were still plenty of gorgeous roses! I took lots of photos and am seriously contemplating painting every single one of them. Perhaps create a series of roses. This is the first one:
As per usual, I'm working on the background first. I did not worry about drawing every single leaf and such that is visible in the photo. Thus, I'm painting them in as I go. I'm not looking for perfection or an exact copy of the photo, just keeping things fresh. The greenery should be nearly finished soon, and then I'll concentrate on the flower itself, a yellow rose that is just starting to blossom. I get excited though! You can see that I've already added a bit of yellow. The flower is my favorite part and sometimes I can't wait to add the color!
| 15 September, 2013 18:10
Months ago, I was paging through the "Calls to Artists" section of my Professional Artist magazine when I stumbled across a listing for an online gallery accepting submissions and, the best news, holding monthly contests! "Hmmm," I thought to myself, "this is something I could try." I submitted work for a couple contests, but not surprisingly, didn't win. I moved onto other things for a while.
But then about the beginning of August, I started thinking about it again. "Maybe, I'll check out the theme this month and see what I can do." I had enjoyed working within such a constraint in the months previous to this. Often, it is like creative stretching (in the same way that a dancer stretches and warms up before a performance) to confine oneself to such limitations. If you don't pull a muscle, so to speak, it can be beneficial for your artwork. At the very least, you could be inspired to work on something or move in way that you haven't considered.
So, I logged onto the website, but was brought up short immediately. I stared at the screen in shock. There it was. Front page. My pastel. My name. "WE HAVE A WINNER!" The words seemed shout across the screen. "Congratulations to Brittany Stout, Winner of the June, "All Paintings" Theme Art Competition." I HAD won!
Below is my winning painting:
Winners of the monthly competitions receive a radio interview, media promotion, an invite to the gallery and more! My radio interview aired on www.blogtalkradio.com on Saturday, September 14. It's also going to be available on iTunes as a podcast and through my Artist Gallery Page which can be found on www.contemporaryartgalleryonline.com. Check it out!