Snapshot of pastel portrait study, 1997
Last week on my trip to the Central Coast I was walking with a friend along lovely Asilomar State Beach, south of Monterey, when I remembered that I’d been at the Asilomar Conference Center once many years ago, for a pastel figure-painting workshop. I’ve been feeling the tug of pastel again lately, so I dug into the archives and pulled up this snapshot of a portrait study I’d done that weekend.
This was the first and last fully developed pastel portrait I’ve done. I should say “fully developed” in quotes because it’s really not quite finished. As usual with representational work I was engaged so long as I was learning something new, but after a while it started to feel tedious and I lost interest. I remember I didn’t like the puffy jacket the model was wearing and just kind of mentally wandered off at that point. I actually do have some facility with realistic representation in that I have a fair eye and sense of proportion, but I find no adventure in it. I’d rather use that facility to explore other dimensions of a subject. So that’s why you won’t often see works like this posted on my blog.
I will say it’s a good likeness of this beautiful young man, who was a wonderful model and able to sit good-naturedly with this engaged expression for three hours. I carefully followed the methods demonstrated by the instructor, the fine pastelist, esteemed teacher, and all around sweet soul the late Bob Gerbracht, and it’s a tribute to his teaching that I was able to wring something out of what at that time was my extremely limited pastel technique. The handling of the medium is rough, to say the least, as you can see in this closer view.
This was done on a light gray Canson Mi-Teintes paper, for folks who are interested in that kind of thing, and I was no doubt using my sturdy, dependable Rembrandts.
That workshop at Asilomar was a busy couple of days, without much time for beachcombing, but I got a lot out of it, maybe most importantly the confirmation, once again, that though I like drawing the figure, realism is just not my bag. Too much like work, not enough like adventure.