Continuing on in Conté …..

So the conte portraits continue on … I just really wanted to thank you all for continuing to be interested in this daily practice of mine and the art that I am creating. Blogging for me is a strange thing and I have let months go sometimes between one post and the next – thinking I was not interesting enough to be writing about what I am up to – or that all I do is ‘art’ and that can’t sustain a regular blogging practice. But doing these daily portraits enables me to show and tell without worrying about inspiration or lack of it or that I reveal to much or too little – I am able to simply write about what I am doing and that is a great motivation in and of itself.

So here are the latest portraits from my Conté month – one face a day for the month of July.

collage 5

Conte on murano paper – both kind of self portraits

I was not feeling well last week and as a consequence a few drawings became only worthy of going in the bin/trash (overworked and muddy) so I have fallen a little behind but I see progress. I don’t think you can do something every day (or most days) and not see progress and development – even with the up’s and down’s. It is clear to me when I am trying too hard. Sometimes it is good to stand at the easel with an idea of how you want something to look and to aim to get there. Sometimes that can lead me to fight against the flow that allows for something to happen or not to happen and you end up with something that is forced and static.

collage 6

First image Charcoal and conte on watercolour paper self portrait . Second image Conte on sanded pastel paper

But with each piece I learn to expect the unexpected. I learn to go with the flow or aim for something more. I learn that sometimes an intensity of energy is what is required or that quiet contemplation allows me to only add the most simple of marks to complete the portrait. Sometimes I work in silence, sometimes with music that dictates a certain pace of working.

Also I have been purposely working from a variety of inspirations – self portraits from life, self portraits from posed photographs and a few reference images although I only use them very loosely and then go my own way. I have been so inspired to work from images of older people lately – a life’s experiences etched on the face – so beautiful to me.

With Conté I am learning that the paper can make a huge difference to the process. I like the Daler-Rowney Murano pastel paper – it comes in gorgeous colours and gives just enough texture to add interest to the surface. But my favourite so far is the Canson Mi-Teintes Pastel Paper with its sanded surface that just takes conte and pastels beautifully and allows for more layers. There are a few others I would like to try but I am am holding off for a while until I work through some of my current paper stock. (One thing about Pastel paper is that it is not cheap!)

collage 7

Both of these on murano pastel paper. First from self portrait photo – second loosely based on reference image.

I am fixing these portraits after a few layers and then sometimes a light fix once finished. I mentioned this fixative in my last post I think but just to let you know it is Spectrafix Degas Pastel Fix and it is the first fixative I have found that does not seem to change the tones and colours – at least not to my eyes.

I also have some exciting news. Finally (after what seems an absolute age) all of the work I have been doing these last two months has inspired me to actually get to work on my next brand new e-course and I am writing and starting to film now. This one I wanted to be drawing based (no painting – that will come in the future) and I will be announcing it officially very, very soon! But I can tell you that ‘Drawn to Expression’ will be starting on 7th September and registration will open 3rd August. I have a lot of work to do!

Comments 4

  1. Sharon Furner

    As usual, I am so enjoying your sharing of your artistic journey. I like that you are honest in the positive and the things that aren’t quite working. Best wishes getting your next course set up. I will look forward to it. I also agree that working on portraits of older folk is intriguing…so much living and character shows on one’s face as one ages. I hope you stay with this choice for awhile longer.

  2. Pam Stacey

    Looking so much for your course. Your pastels are beautiful. I absolutely love all of your work,such a fan!

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