This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
By J. L. Boyd.
Pastel seems just the medium for amateurs. One may get charming effects in a very short time, there are no brushes to wash or colours to mix, and when you are tired, the work may be put on one side without fear that it will dry in or not dry enough - it is always ready to take up just where one has left off. Indeed, it is an ideal medium. There is no need to fuss oyer technic: it may he said to come of itself.
Study well the box of colours; train yourself to know |ust where the crayon representing each tone lies, and always put it back in the same place. Keep the box tidy; the colours will last twiee the time they otherwise would, and you will be saved much trouble, for they soon become grey on the outside from handling, and so get to look exactly alike. Wipe them occasionally on a clean cloth or pieee of cotton.
On first looking at a new box of pastels, it seems as if many of the colours were repeated - they look so nearly the same. Only personal experimenting will show that when laid on the canvas there is a perceptible difference.
If you are not sure of your drawing, trace the outline and transfer it to the pastel paper. Use a smooth, slightly sanded surface - a dark bluish brown colour makes a good undertone. The cheaper grey paper is not so easy to work on, but it is good enough for sketches. Trace the outline as lightly as possible; it is necessary to keep the paper in as fresh a condition as one can.
Sketch in the large masses with a crayon of reddish grey tone, using it very gently and lightly. Be careful not to put them in too heavy; allow onl\ the top points of the roughness of the paper to catch the colour. At this stage do not attempt to rub in either with stump or finger. It is a great mistake to begin by rubbing in the tones, for the pores of the paper soon become filled up, and your study loses not only its freshness, but gets in a state which makes it very difficult to work on. Now and again, towards the end, the ringer may be lightly used to blend the tones together; but the more this can be avoided the better.
After a general idea of the head has been sketched in, and the tone of the hair and features indicated, it is best to begin on the background. Use the flat of the pastel. Much broader effects can be got in that way than with the point. Lav in with free sketchy strokes. Try to put in the background right at first; working on it after the face is painted is dangerous, for the dust falls and is apt to mar the purity of the flesh tones. The same with the hair: it should be as nearly finished as possible before you work much on the face. Watch, and if at any time particles of dark have fallen on the lighter surface, blow them gently off. Use the flat of the pastel in all the large masses. Lav in the warmer tones first, then the grays on the top. Go about it on the same principle as in painting in oil colours, although in using the dark paper one sometimes gets an effect by working in the lights only, leaving the shadows to take care of themselves. If well managed, a very slight tone rubbed on at the end will bring the whole thing together.
When the background and the hair have been laid on, begin on the forehead. With broad touches of the pastel indicate the general tone; then look for the delicate grays where the flesh blends with the hail". Take care not to use too much pink and red in the flesh tones. Study nature closely, and you will see that the flesh tones consist of the most delicate grays - either pink, yellow, blue, or green. The pastel box is full of just such tones; look for them.
Work on downward, laying in the eyebrows, then the nose. Many persons in drawing a head begin with the nose, constructing the whole centre of the lace first - the nose, eves, mouth, the cheeks, ears, and forehead. Such a practice cannot be commended to the student, but the method matters little, if the result be good. Keep the tones fresh and pure.
Be careful with the eyes. Note the exact shape of the shadows which form the whole. Much depends on giving character to shadows. Do not think that a meaningless mass of tone will represent an eye - it is the curve of the eyelid and the shadow which falls from the eyeball. Take time to study closely the exact form. Even in working from life, take time to study the forms of the shadows. Do not worry about colour - it will come with practice. Keep thinking of construction and line. Remember that your pastels will not bother you by drying too quickly or not quickly enough. They remain in the right condition always. The iris itself study carefully; notice that part is in shadow - that is, there will be an accent against the eyelid in one place and part will be in light or lighter in tone. Be careful of the point of light, it there be any. It is first a sharp point of white, and rather difficult to put on with pastel, but it can be done. Take it out by scratching on the general tone of the eye and then touch into it with the white pastel sharply just a point.
Study carefully the contour of the face - the light which touches the cheek-bones and the delicate grays which unite the shadows and the light-It is best to put in everything broadly and strong at first; the whole can be softened and toned down afterwards with the gray tones. This is especially the ease with the mouth, as it is very difficult to do. Use a tone as near the colour as possible. Accent sharply the line which divides the lips, using a carmine crayon, but not the darkest. Draw the grays into this line, yet keeping it distinct.
Model carefully the chin with simple, broad touches, following the curves with the strokes of the pastel. Then, on to the neck, which should be done in as few touches as possible.
The dress or drapery must be studied carefully, and indicated by broad, simple strokes. When this is laid in, go back and review the whole.
First see that the whole "hangs together" - that there are no glaring faults in " values."
Supposing that the background is correct, begin with the hair, correcting any faults of tone or value. Blend together with the grays.
At this stage of the work, if you find it necessary, very gently touch the tones together with the linger. Use the little linger; it is much more soft and delicate than the others; do not rub too hardly or too much; the work will lose its freshness and snap if played with.
Stand away from the easel when giving the finishing touches; indeed, the best results can be clone with the artist standing all the time and working always at arm's length. In this way one sees the faults sooner; they show up more at a distance than when one looks for them close to the canvas.
J. L. Boyd.