Oil Pastels: Bluejay

First. Wine and art are congenial companions. I don’t drink, for the most part. But if I am going to drink it’s going to be like a man is supposed to. Alone and questioning his self worth in a spiral of existentialism. Damn straight. A hint of liquid inhibition works wonders when you’re facing the horrors of a blank canvas. Why didn’t someone tell me this sooner? Hm. It looks much better from a distance.

Four evenings and it’s pretty much there. I’m tearfully overjoyed that I’m finally starting to get it. Oil pastels, I mean. They’re creamy compared to regular pastels so you can blend them. After the two recent drawings I was a little frustrated. They didn’t match what I had in my head. It’s all about color theory and capturing real life colors that are muted and dull. Highlights have color. Shadows have color. It’s not just a matter of adding white or black, y’know.

I googled, watched YouTube videos, bought two books on pastel techniques. This started out rough and then — the click started to happen. Sometimes there’s no click. That is a frustrating struggle. All trepidation and effort and a crappy outcome. Sometimes … it clicks.

One thing to show you what I mean. Here is a screenshot of the color sets I made with Adobe Kuler.

Using Adobe Kuler to SEE the color palettle.

Using Adobe Kuler to SEE the color palettle.

The colors.

The colors.

From the bottom up:

  • The bottom row is the green leaf. Note the orange and olive colors. Makes sense.
  • Next up is the golden brown leaf. Cool.
  • Then the blues of the blue jay. Shades of blues and blue-grays. I can dig it.
  • But look at that top row of colors. A muddled gray and dark browns?? Those are the colors in the underbelly of the bluejay. How does a blue bird’s white undercarriage translate to drab colors like a gray-brown, a greenish brown and dark brown?


I think that’s the answer to the question. Why am I struggling with a drawing of a photo that I took that I like? What’s the point?

Drawing or painting with pastels requires you to really see. You have to bypass your brain’s interpretation of the image that tells you that this is blue and that’s white and that leaf is golden-yellow. You have to see the purple and green, the backlighting, reflected lights, the hint of purple in the corner of the mouth, the nearly invisible tongue, and so on. It’s like meditation.

You can’t take anything for granted. I learned a LOT and now finally feel justified for buying the giant, expensive-ass oil pastel set. They’re like paint crayons for grown ups. Now all I need is a giant pillow and blanket fort to draw in.

Man. Now I’m tired.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s