Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thee and Thou and then just me

Thee and Thou
pastel, 24x36"

It has occurred to me that I have not posted a painting in awhile. OK. It actually occurred to me that I haven't been on a cool road trip or seen anything not completely waterlogged for awhile. It made for a fine excuse to drag out a painting. I am so lazy. These two paintings are both in pastel medium on sanded paper and I painted them some time ago. Unfortunately now all I can see is what's wrong with them. Of course I always end up seeing what I think is wrong with them after I have them framed up. As a matter of fact the surest way for me to spot what I think isn't working is to have someone buy it. Then I spend the rest of my time trying to figure out how I can get that sucker back off their wall so I can fix it for them. Apparently the police frown on most of my ideas. If I'm lucky I'll catch it just after I finish framing it and attaching the hanging wire. It's funny what an expensive frame job can do for your critical perceptions.

As you can see I am something of a color whore. I seem to lack proper restraint in that area. I am not hopelessly lost however in color overload. I plan to prove it to you in the next post when I will show you a couple of paintings that display my ability to limit my licentious use of color. Today however seemed like a perfectly acceptable excuse to show you these. It has been dark and raining buckets for at least the past two days. There was a brief sun break this afternoon and I thought if I was fast enough I just might make it outside to soak up some of that elusive sunshine. Not fast enough. By the time I got my shoes on I saw the cats waving to me as they drifted by in a row boat. Maybe tomorrow.

For any of you who may be interested in the process I employ in my pastel paintings I'll bore you-- I mean provide you with a quick run down. The surface aka paper I use is Kitty Wallis museum grade sanded paper. It is like a very fine sand paper. I love this paper! You can pretty much do anything to it and it will hold up beautifully. This works well for me because I like to abuse the living daylights out of my pastel paintings. With watercolor I am much more civilised but, pastel is a full contact sport. I have been known to take a hose and scrub brush to this paper and it just laughs and keeps coming back for more.

Like many artists I paint an under-painting first. This is where I probably go off the reservation a tad bit. I use oil pastels directly on the paper. Some poor unsuspecting fool once said within earshot, that you could not mix oil pastels and dry pastels. I didn't make it out of the art store before I had a new mission in life--proving that unimaginative fool entirely wrong. I'm kind of punky that way. Of course no words were exchanged but it was definitely ON.

The way that this reasonable impossibility works has a lot to do with Kitty's fabulous paper. I use painting medium to thin and work the oil pastel into the tooth of the paper. I have to wear those little rubber finger tip things they use for counting money at the bank though or I would sand my fingertips right off. Sure, I could use a tool and sometimes I do but, I like the finger painting approach. It's in keeping with my juvenile nature.

The real reason I use this method and not the more traditional mediums for an under-painting is that the oil pastel quickly covers a lot of space and maintains its much more rich and vibrant color. This in turn means I can get where I am going in a painting a whole lot faster.

The other particular thing I prefer to use in these paintings is my own hand made pastels. I learned this little art form from the famous Kitty Wallis herself and I have been hooked ever since. I love being able to craft and create my own special colors and shades. It's a tactile thing and a little reminiscent of playing with Clay-Dough. Plus, I'm greedy with colors. There's that juvenile nature again. I find something absolutely irresistible about being able to purchase pure pigments and play around with colors and mixing them up as if you might know what you're actually doing. One day I hope to play around with composition as if I know what I'm doing. I have such lofty artistic goals. It's good to have goals. Goals and Play-Dough that's my motto. Well that and a shiny new box of Crayons. The big one!

Summer Afternoon


  1. So I was at AW and in the updated blogs thread and thought, "Hmm, paintings huh? I like paintings."

    I was lounging back in my chair and then your site came up.

    When I saw the first painting, I immediately said, "Oh wow," and sat up to stick my face into the monitor.

    I love all the colors and the texture. And anyone that works that much with pastels automatically wins in my book!

  2. I really don't know much about art, so it was interesting to learn about the pastels and paper. I had no idea there was such a thing as sanded paper. I love all the color you use! I really like how rich the colors are. Yes, perfect for the dark rainy days we've been having.

  3. Beautiful art, LeSan! I am a color junkie, too. And my daughter is the same way.

    It's fun to look upon a field of sunflowers or a vivid colors on fabric/furniture, and my daughter and I give each other a kindred look.

  4. Very interesting reading about the sanded paper, and making your own pastels. Way to go LeSan. I love your 'summer afternoon' painting. It makes me feel good to be alive. I want to have a seat in that lovely chair, and have a sip of wine, rest and think about life. ~ Color is good! Color sets or enhances moods. Color lifts our spirits. Color also has a calming effect.

    Looking forward to seeing more of your artwork.


  5. Hello LeSan,

    Your paintings are beautiful and I do love lots of color. I hope the weather clears up soon for you. We are expecting a solid week of rain next week, which as you know, is rare for the desert :-)

  6. Gorgeous gorgeous art..brilliant spirit and life to them! Wonderful! I enjoyed hearing your process!Fantastic post!

  7. Tx for explaining the sanded paper. Glad your writing muse is staying around.

  8. I think your paintings are absolutely beautiful! You know I'm a color whore, and who cares. I'm never going to be one of those beige and white and cream girls. No use trying to be something I'm not. Color shows spirit!

  9. The only time I use sand paper is to take paint OFF. I had no idea you could paint onto it!

    I love your paintings, I love the colour blast and I want to come and sit in that chair, chat with you and drink the wine together please....! ;)

  10. Do what pleases you! I think that is the secret. You are an amazing person and you are so wonderfully talented.
    Thanks for sharing another painting with us. I feel priviledged.

  11. What a beautiful blog I've found here.... I totally love the garden on your blog banner... is it yours? I see myself there and I love what I'm feeling...


  12. What beautiful paintings. I'd be embarassed to put any of mine next to these. But then that might be an awesome ego boost for you. :] Have a great weekend.

  13. Hi LeSan! Your colors are so vibrant and ALIVE! Opulence and Emotion surface for me. I especially love the 'Summer Afternoon' ... I want to walk right in and sit down... take a sip of wine and eat a few grapes. I love the way you use the golden yellow in the window and flowers. I love the composition! Love all the triads of color. I love it period! It is so interesting to read about your process. I would love to have camera in hand and document you playing with all that color. I love doing under paintings ... they are so liberating. This painting will sing of joy anywhere it hangs. ;=)

  14. LeSan,

    I love colour, so why would I ever think you should tone them down. The grapes feel like they want to be wine right now. The chair is so warm and inviting. You are such a goooooood artist.

    Take care,