Aug 12, 2010

Portsmouth Light pastel painting

Portsmouth Light   10" x 4" pastel over watercolor

I just finished another small pastel painting - this one on watercolor paper. As I am heading out to visit some family in NH, I was inspired to paint Portsmouth Light.

pencil sketch on watercolor paper

I have a panoramic frame I'd like to use for this one, so I am starting with a 10" by 4" layout. The sketch is based on several photos of the lighthouse, and I eliminated some elements to make the design a little cleaner. Now that I like the composition, I can start painting in a first layer to dim down the whiteness of the paper and give it more tooth for the pastel.

details added in the underpainting

I decided to change the color palette to include more vibrant hues, so I added more blues and purples to the underpainting. I like using watercolor as an underpainting, and can work out some of the details during this step.
watercolor taped to my artboard to get rid of those ripples!

After I finished the watercolor step, I misted the back of the paper with water and taped it to my artboard to dry so that it would flatten out a bit.

layers of pastel in the sky - you can never have enough shades of purple

Once everything was dry, I started the pastel layer. The sky had a lot of blending, so I got that out of the way first, adding in the land on the horizon to clean up the edges. I also added some base color to the lighthouse, mostly with pastel pencils to not lose the details in the underpainting.

sea and sky are coming together

When I got the blending in the sky and clouds where I liked it, I started on the water, pulling in some of the same colors as I used in the sky. The foreground elements I painted last - the rocks on the beach and then more detail on the lighthouse. By this point the walkway and railing were obscured a bit from the blending of the sea and sky, so I drew them back in with a pastel pencil I sharpened with a knife.

painting in the rocky beach in the foreground

All in all this painting cam along pretty quickly, and I like the vibrant sunset color. Enjoy!