Two portraits

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pastelworks, my online portfolio, has a new home.

The move to http://emmajanerosenberg.foliosnap.com/ reflects the fact that my art is now as much about oil pastels as it is the soft pastels which were once my only true passion. Why not pay the new site a visit and leave a note in my guestbook to let me know you stopped by?

Vi’s Eyes
10″ x 12″ Caran d’Ache oil pastels & wax pastels over gouache
on Art Spectrum Colourfix paper

I’m noticing that my approach to using OPs is evolving in a pretty similar way to the process I developed when painting with the softies, with an underdrawing and block-in using wax pastels (artist’s crayons) the equivalent of using harder pastel sticks in the early stages of a soft pastel painting. I also find myself turning to the wax pastels for a certain amount of blending. In the portrait below, I also used a Sennelier blending stick, as well as fingers and kitchen towel, and scraped away colour with whatever tools were to hand: these happened to be a screw of unknown origin and a plastic knife from my daughter’s tea set.

Portrait of M
9″ x 12″ Sennelier oil pastels & Caran d’Ache wax pastels
on Canson paper

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Melody in shades of green

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My gorgeous wooden box set of 120 Sennelier oil pastels arrived a couple of weeks ago, shortly before my departure for a week on the Isle of Wight, giving me sadly little chance for messy play before I left.

Back now from what was a wonderful family trip involving beaches and zoos and dinosaurs (and my first visit movie outing in 18 months, to see the stunning Coraline 3D), I’ve put the finishing tweaks to the portrait I’d started back in the real world.

This is Melody in shades of green, 6×9″ on Daler Murano paper. [Please click for embiggened view.]

The possibility has arisen this week of a painting commission; my first in over 3 years. Bring it on, I say, even if the demands of freelance work and home and motherhood will make it tricky. It is, ultimately, the thing I most want to do with my life.

Up to eleven

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Eleven years, the internet reliably informs me, marks our “steel” anniversary. Steel? Does the average couple experience a sudden, inexplicable need for a new stainless-steel cutlery set after eleven years of marriage? Or is it meant as a joke? “Steel married after all this time? Haw haw.”

Eleven years of marriage (or eleventy, as you put it – for which you’ll pay) means a lot; of course it does. But somehow, each year, I find myself smiling mildly indulgently at this anniversary of being your wife, knowing that it competes in vain with other dates inscribed on the calendar of my memory – 18 years of being your lover, 20 years of being your friend – and with the comparatively short, but completely overwhelming, two years that we have been parents to our astonishing little girl.

Graphite pencil on paper, 1993

Conté pencil on black paper, 2002

Conté sticks on La Carte sandpaper, 2004

I will miss you tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that … and then the day after that I will stop missing you, because you’ll have come back home, and we will get on with another eleventy years of marriage.

As Dolores Hfuhruhurr so aptly put it: “You – man of steel! I can’t wait … ’til next Thursday.”

I love you. xx

Benjer

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I have just discovered Slide!!

Benjer was painted in soft pastel back in October 2004. He was my first commissioned piece, a surprise gift from a friend for her mother (his owner) in Chicago, and you can follow his progress via the image sequence below. It may be of interest to anyone who wishes to try their hand at an animal portrait in pastels, and wonders how somebody else (who didn’t have a clue when she set out to paint a dog for the first time – and this was that dog!) approached it.

While you were sleeping … Boast post #2

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I was struck by many things about Audrey Niffenegger’s astonishing novel The Time-Traveler’s Wife when I read it in early 2007 – just before I started this blog – and among them was a tender description of one of the characters, an artist, making a pastel drawing, from life, of a sleeping baby.

As a pastellist, I yearned to do this with my own infant daughter. She’s 18 months old now, and still I have not accomplished it. I found it impossible to sketch her back in those early days, when the only place she would give in to a daytime nap was in my arms; but from the past year I have a handful of small pen sketches made of her while she slept in her pushchair. I thought I would share them as a montage. (The one in the bottom right-hand corner was done 5 days ago while in a moving car, where (strangely) it is easier to draw than to write.)


I have painted M in oil pastels, but “only” from a photo, as shared here. One day , perhaps, she will be patient enough to indulge her mummy while I sketch her awake, and from life.

Meanwhile, here is a record of the moment when she stopped simply making lines back and forth across the page, and started visibly experimenting with mark-making: she was 17 months old. These drawings remind me of abstract work that I have seen, and I’m very fond of them. To me they’re like an exotic script, or some strange dance notation.


EDM #54: Not so much a sketch …

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… as a three-and-a-half-hour experiment. I had never attempted a portrait in oil pastels, and wanted to try one using a limited palette of four shades, similar to those which have worked well for me in several soft-pastel portraits.

I built up the image on warm-tinted Ingres paper in Neocolor II (wax pastels) and Neopastel (oil pastels), blending with fingers and kitchen towels. It’s about 8×5″. The highlights have scanned rather harshly, and I can see a couple of details I may be tempted to tweak; but I can’t help but be happy to see that little face on the page.

This is EDM Challenge #54: Draw someone you love.

My little girl.