Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday: Large for the price of small!

My Cyber Monday sale is on! Get a large portrait for the price of a small one by entering coupon code CyberMonday12 at my Etsy store. That's 18% off an 11x14 matted to 16x20 for child or pet portraits.
Custom Charcoal Portraits

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pastel: Painting or Drawing?

Concert deans le Jardin by Kate Sumners
What does the word "painting" mean to you? What's the difference between a painting and a drawing? Is pastel artwork a drawing or a painting? And will pastel artwork be only suitable color-wise for a baby shower? There seems to  be a lot of misconceptions about pastel artwork, so I've done a little research and here's what I have found.

Why the Confusion?

Well, the English language is a tricky thing.

The word "pastel" can mean:
  • a noun, for an artwork whose medium is pastels
  • a verb, meaning to produce an artwork with pastels
  • an adjective, meaning pale in color
That last definition explains why when many people hear "pastel" they think baby shower colors. The pastel color palette is NOT what defines the pastel art medium

The art medium is what we are discussing here, and it is artwork of any color made from a pure powdered pigment and a binder. The pigments used in pastels are the same as those used to produce all colored art media; they can include light, dark and mid tones. Pastel artwork can be vibrant, dark and dramatic. It can be anything the artist makes of it. Pastels are a unique medium in that the colors are mixed on the paper or board by overlaying or blending, rather than on a palette.

Pastel Medium

What is Pastel Artwork, Painting or Drawing?

Pastel paints are usually in the form of a stick or even a pencil made of pigment. This gives rise to a second misconception about whether it creates paintings or drawings. In the minds of many, "paint" equals wet and "drawing" equals dry. Pastels are usually dry, so does this make the artwork an artist makes from them a drawing? 


So What is Pastel Artwork, Drawing or Painting?

Short answer: it may be either! Here is one of the best explanations I have found about what the difference between a drawing and a painting is, from author Eric Hebborn (and it has nothing to do with dry vs. wet)

"In a drawing the contours of shapes or forms are made with a line, whereas in a painting contours are created by the meeting of two or more areas of different tone or color."


In other words, when fully covered with pastel, the work is called a pastel painting; when not, a pastel sketch or drawing

Pastel Painting

As a portrait artist I have often had to resort to asking my clients whether they prefer a black and white or color portrait just to avoid using the word pastel because so few people understand the medium, and I think that's a real shame. 

Pastel is a fantastic medium and also is one of the oldest media out there. It was loved by Leonardo da Vinci, Manet, Gaugin, Degas, and many others. It is formed using almost pure pigment which leaves a brilliance of color not found in other mediums. The result is visually stunning and very textural and diverse. Whether drawing or painting, pastel artwork is not to be missed!