Saturday, August 27, 2016

Pastel Portrait Drawings by Cynthia Hayes

Recently I received a new friend request on Facebook. Soon  after that my new friend shared a photo I had posted a few years ago with the comment "That's me, love it."  His compliment was really encouraging especially because it is often difficult to meet a portrait sitter's expectations. 

I hadn't immediately recognized my new Facebook friend Aaron, but certainly remembered the drawing session he had modeled for. Aaron posing with the work in progress is pictured below.

I've had extensive years of experience figure drawing, but this was the first "portrait" session I ever attended. I tried to capture the essence of a noble spirit with the upward, optimistic, determined gaze.

30" x 22.5"
chalk pastel & oil paint on printmaking paper

An artist working at the local Utrecht's Art Supply Store had organized a series of portrait sessions. He'd ask interesting looking patrons of the store if they would be willing to pose. An exciting variety of people agreed to model. Our models ranged in age, ethnicity, gender, personality types, etc. 

30" x 22.5"
chalk pastel & oil paint on printmaking paper

One of my favorite portrait models was this gentleman named "Flame". So much fun to study all of his long grey hair and beard with its loose spiraling curls. Flame held his faithful friend for the entire 3 hour sitting. Amazing how patient this little dog was!

In this photo, we see the setup. Temporary foam core walls were propped up to give a backdrop, and to block the art supply store shelves. The model was raised high on a tall stool so that everyone could get a good view. Gallon buckets of gesso were stacked to the right height to give a place for the feet to rest, and also to hold the chair in place. The ambient overhead florescent store lights were the default lighting situation which was not as dramatic as is often preferred by figurative artists.

Portrait of a Young Woman
30" x 22.5"
chalk pastel & oil paint on printmaking paper

Bringing several sheets of painted paper to the session, I select one with colors that may work with the model's clothing, skin tone, or even mood. The underpainting greatly influences color choices as the  work progresses.  

I covered many sheets of printmaking paper with oil and enamel house paints years ago while living in the Caribbean. Nonobjective, brightly colored paintings were prepared to be used as under paintings. In this drawing much of this paint remains untouched. Shapes inspired by orange coconuts and green palm leaves mingle with a turquoise color paint ubiquitously used on island homes.

There was no color in the model's clothing or backdrop. Rather than filling in a black background, I utilized the vivid color, and created a blonde, beach wave hair style to match the imagined environment.

A few more examples of chalk pastel portraits on painted paper -

chalk pastel & oil paint on printmaking paper

The following images are of chalk pastel portraits done on 30"x22.5" white printmaking paper. 

For this final portrait, my friend Kristin posed outdoors on her patio one beautiful summer evening while the sunlight faded into sunset. The changing light made the process challenging, but added drama. Kristin's eyes appear closed because she was looking down at a book she was reading. I wish I had asked her to look up for a few minutes so I could get her eyes. 

chalk pastel on printmaking paper

I hope you enjoyed visiting my blog.
Some of the drawings pictured are for sale online at my Etsy Shop CynthiaHayesArt. Prices for the others are available upon request. If inquiring, please email me at Cynthia.S.Hayes (at) gmail (dot) com

1 comment:

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