Sequence I
I usually begin a painting by a loose drawing with a black pastel or medium soft charcoal, not a vine charcoal because it doesn't mix with the pastel. Here I am using a sand-colored sheet of La Carte pastel card. The paper is attached to a clipboard and placed on my easel tilted forward a few degrees. Using mostly hatching strokes I have already begun covering the paper with a rough value drawing. The entire sheet of paper will be covered before I apply the first color.

Sequence II
In this step I have begun layering pastels from dark to light using hard pastels then progressing to softer as the values get lighter. I use a very light touch so that I don't fill the tooth of the paper before I'm ready. I don't have a particular order that I develop the painting at this point but rather develop different areas randomly. The darkest values are layered with my darkest red, green and then blue because I seldom (but sometimes) leave pure black in my paintings.

Sequence III
At this point I am beginning to add more color continuing to darken the lowest values and lightening the lightest. In most of my paintings I use a cool light and a warm shadow. Usually I use the harder, darker pastels to layer colors in the beginning. Sometimes I will use a soft pastel to lay in a color, then use a hard pastel to smooth out the texture or to push it into the tooth of the paper. I always use a pastel to blend colors, never my fingers.

Sequence IV
The completed painting is mostly mid-tone to dark in value. I want the small areas of light to be very prominent. I liked this particular composition because the girls are positioned diagonally to the left, and the violins are positioned diagonally to the right. I made the background blurred to give the illusion of depth. Placing the small branch and leaf in front of the taller girl achieved the same effect. I like light and dark contrast, pattern, and texture in my paintings and this particular setting included a combination of all those qualities.
© 2001, Jerry Hunsinger

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