Pastel Demonstration: Horse Head
The following step-by-step demonstration of a horse in soft (dry) pastel by Carol Santora, PSA, includes completing a Drawing and Sketch, the underpainting, the actual painting in pastel and final adjustments.
Carol Santora, PSA, is an award-winning, contemporary animal artist living in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in animal and wildlife paintings and pet portraits of cows, horses, sheep, farm and domestic animals, dogs and cats, the big cats, moose, bear in pastel.
Preparing the surface and the Drawing
I routinely tint my UArt sanded pastel paper with cadmium red light or cadmium orange acrylic ink or permanent pigments before beginning my domestic and wildlife pastel paintings. I usually prepare several large sheets at a time so they are ready when I need them.
To learn first hand about horses and the mustang, America's wild horse and icon,
I work with them at the Ever After Mustang Rescue.
I drew directly on UArt sanded pastel paper with a vine charcoal. The ghost drawing from my edited composition will not show in the final painting.
"Step 1 - Drawing" vine charcoal on orange-tinted sanded pastel paper, 14"x9.25"
Step 1 - Underpainting - Begin with Darks
Working upright on an easel, I have started to block in the first layer of color starting with the darks using hard pastels.
"Step 2 - Underpainting"
Step 2 - Underpainting - Add Middle Tones
I can begin adding color.
As you can see, I have started to block in my middle tone areas with NuPastels, a harder soft pastel stick. I work back and forth from one area to another, from mid-tone darks to mid-tone lights building up the image in my preliminary base colors.
"Step 3 - Underpainting - Add Middle Tones"
Step 3 - Adding More Color & Lights
I am still working on the subject of my painting. I've finished my basic blocking of the horse and now have blended some areas (with my pinky finger or another color of hard pastel),
layering lighter colors over the darker ones. I have selectively left some of the pastel strokes alone. I do not want to overwork the image.
I also vary the pressure of my pastel sticks and have started using softer pastels. I step back often to see my work.
"Step 3 - Adding More Color & Lights"
Step 4 - Refining the Underlayer
At this stage I am refining the anatomy and paying more close attention to light and shadow areas, shapes, angles and planes of the head and face.
"Step 4 - Refining the Underlayer"
Step 5 - Adding the Background
I am happy with how the shape of the head and the color values I have chosen are working so I can add color to the background. I choose colors that are in the animal.
"Step 5 - Adding the Background"
Step 6 - Adjustments
At this point in the painting I am making more subtle changes in value or color.
I add the darkest darks and the lightest lights very sparingly to make the image pop.
"Step 6 - Adjustments"
Step 7 - The Eyes
I wait until the last step to put in the eyes. For me, I am painting the soul of the animal in this process, and once I paint the eyes their soul is now visible to the viewer.
I will look at this now in my studio for several days to make adjustments if necessary.
At this point am very happy with it and can settle down to titling it!
"Step 7 - The Eyes"
Finished - Dark Beauty
"Dark Beauty" soft pastel, 14"x9.25"
BACK to Lessons
© Copyright 2000-2011 Carol Santora