Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Book Review: Painting Animals That Touch the Heart by Lesley Harrison

I usually draw in only black and white, but occasionally I have the urge to do something in color. I've tried colored pencils but they don't resonate well with me, so I figure the next step is pastels. So of course I went looking for a book that combined that with the painting of animals in particular, and found this.

Let's start with what this book is: It is a decent introduction to pastel painting, and it does show some excellent step-by-step examples of how to paint a snow leopard paw, a wolf ear, a horse face, and other such things. If you are at all familiar with pastels, you will get a good understanding of the layering involved in each drawing. This book is also about how to set up a good drawing - not so much composition per se, but what makes an animal drawing that people would want to look at ... and buy. Her gallery is wonderful to look at.

What this book is not: this book is not a how-to on pastels. There are many examples, yes, but there is nothing on how to paint foregrounds and backgrounds (though there is commentary on what kinds of backgrounds to use).

I was a little disappointed in the section on paper. The author only describes three and clearly favors one. I would have preferred a little more variety as there are tons of paper types out there. In all, this was a very good book and I recommend at least looking through it. Unfortunately, it is out of print, so see if you can find a used copy or borrow one.

Edit 02/10/2011:
Now that I've had a little time to experiment with pastels and different kinds of paper, I understand why the author only uses velour paper: it is incredible. I wrote a quick synopsis of the papers I have tried here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What's This, A Pencil?

After a solid month away from the easel, I finally picked up a pencil today to draw. Not for long, because naps are short these days, but it was still good to get something done. I've been getting really excited about this crocodile drawing I set up, though I know it will be difficult. You can see the progress I made below.

For those of you who don't already know, I took the past month off because I had a baby. I'll be getting back into drawing slowly, at least until he starts sleeping through the night. He is adorable and doing very well.

In other news, I had the privilege of serving as a juror for the Los Alamos County Fair fine art competition last weekend. There were tons of great works from young and emerging artists.