Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Edgar Allan Poe --color!

Hey guys!

I'd love some feedback on my work in progress....
I feel like I'm stuck! The sculpt is baked, so it cannot be changed. (I also need to sculpt the Gold Bug, which is what he'll be looking at. I'm going to add some tiny type to his journal as well.)

I'm adding color via chalk pastel to the wood panel background. Any thoughts? I could use any comments; I'm too close to this!

Is it odd that the sculpt is floating on the background?

OK--I'm stepping away to go outside & play! :~)


  1. ...maybe more Palmetto tree shadows to the background?

  2. I like what you're doing, Paula —I wish I had more time to experiment with my usual bag of tricks.

    A few thoughts:

    Try to use the chalk simply to enhance what the colored clay already does. In other words, don't over-render with the pastel. I think the chalk added to the dark hair weakened one of your great areas of contrast. On the other hand, some strategically placed pastel might help to bring out the darks in the skull a bit.

    If you have something rendered in 3D, try not to create a chalk version that competes directly with it. I love your sculpted tree, and I love the pastel tree, but having two of them the same size right next to each other looks a bit indecisive. Perhaps some pastel clouds way in the background would have been a better choice. Likewise, the pastel water competes a bit with the sculpted water. Both techniques are fine, but one needs to be subordinate to the other, or they need to clearly be two separate parts of the same thing i.e. sculpted whitecaps on a very simplified field of water. (I hope some of this makes sense.)

    I think you have the makings of a very nice embellishment to your style, one that may push your art into new markets. Keep going!

  3. OK--that does help! Thanks.

    The chalk on the hair was an accident.... dusty fingers smudged it accidentally, and darkening it back didn't work :~P

    I didn't notice my Palmetto placement--thanks!

    OK, I've had a great powerwalk & a big dinner, so I'm going to head back to the art!

  4. I like Chuck's cloud idea. The chalk tree is a little busy and is competing too much with the foreground elements.

    I am interested to see this experiment play out. The chalk seems so different in texture and handling to the polymer.

  5. Great image, Paula! :) I agree that the chalk stuff tends to get a little "grey." I was, ironically enough, just talking about this very same thing with a friend of mine the other day. I have the same issue with my chalk pastels. I've personally been working on impact and compositional choice to further that impact. I've seriously been reconsidering media choice, or at least working methods. My use of pastels fights the natural tendencies of the medium. I layer and layer and layer when, in reality, chalk pastels are more potent when used in their purer state, with fresh lines and not overworked. I either have to pay more attention to what colours mix chemically with each other, or start mixing chalk brands and hardnesses to achieve the saturation and brilliancy I am currently losing. I tend to want to render the crap out of a painting with pastels, which is kind of counter-productive, especially on a small scale.

    I think you're facing similar problems here, it's overworked. Chuck is right about the two mediums fighting. I think this is an excellent combination for you and an excellent experiment. I like where it's going. I really like the colour subtlety you have going on in the figure and island. But I think it gets lost and overworked. Some of the appeal in your other clay stuff is its purity of colour and simplicity. It's all immediately apparent as to what's going on, subject matter, etc. You can have lots of subtlety and still have lots of noodly, subtle details (Kinuko Craft is crazy in this regard) but something has to have dominance. I feel many of the elements are fighting here. I almost feel like you should look at your onion painting and your dinosaur clay piece and figure out why they are successful. With the onions, you're use of pastels is very clean, vibrant, and simple. I know what's going on. Same with the dinosaur. I feel like this image is too overwrought. The large clay shapes you have here are being undermined by the background, mostly, and that tree, which I think really detracts from the image. I agree with the simple cloud shape suggestion.

    I really admire your work and I was blown away with what I saw you doing in clay. That is really amazing. You're allowing the textural qualities and three-dimensionality to define the shapes and focal points, which is fascinating, since it can all look differently in various lighting situations. BUT, your focal points are always apparent BECAUSE of the broad shapes you have created in clay. The textures just support your shapes.

    Ultimately, here's what I think, summed up :P


    Determine your focal points and allow your large shapes to inform those points. The pastel would be a nice counter to the clay and could add some nice contrast, but in simple, small doses of vibrant, pure colour.

    I really admire your bravery in working on this image. Your work is phenomenal and this is a nice piece. I like it. But if you can, I would recommend doing something else with that background. I almost feel like it should be a flat tone or simple, even gradation that would support the simplicity of your dominant clay shapes (Poe, the island, etc.).

    Excellent work! It really has been a treat to see this progress, Paula :) Poe's a favourite of mine, so this appeals on more than one level. I wish you only the best of luck in finishing this. Can't wait to see the final! :)

    P.S. Sorry I haven't said anything until now. I've been really busy and I wanted to give your work my full attention.

  6. I agree with Chuck. I battle the same problems with my pastels. This is very powerful and I like how you're attempting to accentuate your normally simple clay shapes with pastels. However, I do agree that the power of your clay shaping lies in its simplicity. You may consider using the pastels sparingly, and making that background a single tone or gradated tones that support the simplicity of the clay shapes. The complexity of colour and texture is fighting with the thing that makes your work so strong, simplicity. As a person you're very direct and I see it in your work. I feel like you should pull on those elements and look back at your other work, both pastel and clay, and figure out what about them is so successful, then combine them into a single unit.

    This is an amazing piece (not just because it's Poe :P), and I admire the risks you're taking here. It's been an amazing ride seeing this develop. Good luck with the final stages. I wish you all the best.

  7. Sorry that there are two comments here. It said my first one didn't publish, so I had to rewrite it :P BUT, apparently, it DID publish :P Bumblebee tuna...

  8. Ha! No prob. I really appreciate all the feedback on this.... usually I just plow through a sculpt, but I've been really stuck on this one. Something's just not working for me with the clay and the chalk, and I'm trying to pinpoint what I see in my head.

    I'm thinking it would help if it were somehow framed. I'm not liking the way the clay just floats on the board. Lacking something........ but now I have deadlines to tend to before I come back to Poe!