I enjoyed switching from watercolor to pastel in my last drawing and decided to try it again today. Much more than watercolor it is an additive process, i.e. I can start out without a clear plan of what I'm going to do, knowing that I can improvise as I go along. I don't need to worry as much about using up something, e.g. the white of the paper, and then needing to get it back later. Though it's possible to use the clear white of the paper thoughtlessly, just as in watercolor, it is easier to get it back to some degree through the use of white pastel. Since pastel is itself opaque, the addition of another layer of opaque white is not as noticeable as it is in watercolor. Or better, it doesn't seem as bothersome.
This drawing is based on photos of an Acadian Flycatcher taken in Shenandoah National Park in May, 2008. The bird is even more distant than were the Wood Ducks in my last drawing and posting. Because of that I knew that any work based on it was going to have to devote a lot of space to the surrounding forest, with very little devoted to the flycatcher itself.
I didn't do much in the way of a preliminary drawing. If I had done so it would have focused on the tree limbs and foliage and not on the flycatcher, since he is so small. At the same time I had to do something with him so that he was the focus of the painting. This might have been somewhat easier in watercolor and pen/pencil since I could use the line of the pen or pencil to add some small detail. But detail with the broad edge of a pastel is not so easy. Basically pastel doesn't allow detail.
So my idea here was to start laying in color, knowing that there would probably be numerous changes as I tried to unify the drawing coloristically, remain true to some extent to the sense of the deep forest that is often the home of the Acadian Flycatcher, and make sure that he still stood out from the surrounding jungle of limbs and leaves.
The drawing so far has some sense of the deep forest, but the Flycatcher is a bit lost. And the upper part of the drawing reads like it might be sky when in fact it is just a deeper part of the forest. I may need to change the colors to remedy that. Still I think I've kept some of the sense of the way in which he sat and tilted his head. The colors may also have gotten a bit too monotonous, though that in fact is what they actually were. It's time to leave it be for now and come back another day.