Bold painting done in the style of Peter Max
| | |

In the Studio This Week – Pastel Portrait, Peter Max Painting, Springtime!

In the studio this week, I worked through the mini course on making a pastel portrait. I learned the importance of having the right tools as this was a discouraging process for me. I also was asked by my husband to come up with a painting in the style of Peter Max to fill a gap in our “Peter Max Wall” in the living room. I spent time outdoors reconnecting with nature using a form of the Artist Walk recommended in the book “The Artist’s Way.”

Pastel Portrait

I had signed up for a 5-day mini course on pastel portraits with Alain Picard. He’s a pastel artist that offers online courses in portraits and other styles of pastel painting. You can see his website here:

I shared a portrait I did on Day 1 that was quick and easy. The rest of the days were not so easy. I started with a what’s called a thumbnail sketch. This is a small size version of the model and is intended to get you to see values and shapes. It’s a valuable exercise that I rarely take the time to do. This is my thumbnail sketch:

Thumbnail charcoal and pastel sketch of a portrait.

Next, you make a loose charcoal sketch, this time focusing more on getting the shape to accurately match the model. This is done in a loose style. Here’s mine:

Charocal sketch of a portrait of a young woman

Then, pastels are applied in layers, building up color, shadows, and highlights. This is where I realized I was probably using the wrong side of the pastel paper. I used a Mi-Tientes pastel paper that is smooth on one side and grainier on the other. I unfortunately used the grainy side, and it shows. I imported this image into both Procreate and Affinity Photo and I will try to blend the colors better digitally. I think the painting is sweet, but doesn’t accurately represent the model, in addition to the graininess:

Pastel Portrait of a young woman painted with pastel paints.

Channeling Peter Max

My husband and I have collected Peter Max paintings and prints since we met. His style brings back memories of the 60s. We had moved some paintings on our “Peter Max” wall and a gap was apparent (excuse the glare).

Photo of an interior wall decorated with Peter Max paintings.

I wasn’t sure how to handle this request, but I love color and I love owls. So I decided to add my voice to the Peter Max style of angel paintings, a subject he’s known for.

I started with some mark making along the edges using Saura Solid Solidified Paint Markers. I added an overall wash of transparent Ultramarine Blue for the background and started to draw and paint the owl in the background first.

Bright painting of a stylized owl and angel

Here’s my easel set up with my reference photos and a spare canvas to drip the leftover paint on.

Photo showing an easel with an owl painting and the sources used for reference.

Here’s a close-up with the final marks outlining portions of the painting.

Bright painting of a stylized owl and angel.

I noticed the wash paint bled into the inner “frame” I was trying to keep white, so I had to paint over it with a blend of Titanium White and Unbleached Titanium.

If you look closely, you can see a few areas where the tape pulled off a top layer of the washed area. These will be easy enough to fix, but overall I’m pleased with the results. What do you think?

Reflections and Takeaways

I’ve been in a reflective mood lately. I think springtime and my upcoming milestone birthday push me into pondering the cycle of life. I still feel like I’m in a creative rut but decided that’s part of the life cycle of the creative process. I’m giving myself time to get outdoors and enjoy the weather. I’ve pulled my bike out of the backyard and have been enjoying riding around the paths circling the neighborhood. I consider it my version of an Artist’s Walk. I notice the changing landscape. Trees that appeared dead are starting to show new leaves. I see Roadrunners and Cottontail rabbits. I hear the songs of the birds and catch glimpses of Scarlet Vermillion flycatchers. A smile touches the corners of my lips.

I am grateful for you who continue along with me. I don’t see your faces, but I feel your presence and smile again. Happy Spring or Fall depending on where you are.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *