Portrait in Chalk Pastel

Last week’s Let’s Face It lesson was again taken by Ivy Newport but this time the subject was the creation of a 3/4 portrait using chalk pastels.  I have not used chalk pastels for a long time, a very long time in fact.  My set are over 26 years old and I think they only made the cut to cross the Atlantic with us for nostalgic reasons because I never think to use them.  I learned fairly early on that I have little aptitude with pastels and I am also too messy an artist to not smudge and smear them while working with them without intense concentration and a great deal of frustration.  I, therefore, procrastinated over this lesson until I finally decided to just give it a go.  My compromise was to not even attempt a realistic portrait but instead use the pastels as the medium for an illustration.  I sketched the drawing out in charcoal before adding colour in the charcoal and that helped me a bit.  Nevertheless, my drawing is a bit wonky with regard to the foreshortened eye.  I had real problems layering the pastel beyond two layers: blending the next layer just seemed to scrub up the previous layers.  I also have nothing smaller than the medium sized chunks of pastel so that made it tricky to add small areas of pigment or small details to the piece.  I determined to not even attempt to create a realistic hair colour so I went with blue hair simply because I had five different shades of blue in the set of pastels.  I must admit that the drawing turned out better than I expected (because my track record with chalk pastel is pretty dire) but this lesson confirmed that pastels are really not my thing.  At least I tried though.  Maybe I will try again a decade from now.

Week 16 Pastel Portrait Illustration


13 thoughts on “Portrait in Chalk Pastel

    • Thank you. The finish might look smooth in the photograph but in reality it is quite scrubby as I had to really work the pastel into the paper to get any of the layers to blend. My nemesis is full profile. I always get the proportions wrong.

  1. I’m with you on pastels – mine are just as old as yours and only kept because one day ‘they might be useful’. And one day, pigs might fly! I’m impressed with what you produced despite your list of wrong-doings!

    • Thank you very much. The blame is mostly with my skill level rather than the tools but I’m pretty sure ancient pastels don’t help. But there’s no point in investing money in pastels when they aren’t my thing.

  2. She is beautiful, Laura. I love your take on the angle of her head. She seems about to bow her head and someone called her name so she looked to that direction. To me she is perfect. Blue hair suited her well.

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