Playing with oil pastel

Sunflowers, landscape, Jenny Yu, Denver


It has been a long time since I last posted because I got caught up on my data science blog and starting a new job. Few weeks ago, I finished an oil pastel drawing of a sunflower field (this would be a Mother's day gift), and it was quite a different experience from oil painting. Not only is sunflower one of my favorite flowers, but in my mind, it's quintessential of Van Gogh's style. Before I started with the coloring, I spent a lot of time playing with different compositions. It is helpful to nail down the composition AND values early on, because pastel is not as forgiving as oil paints, and it's also more difficult to blend some oil pastel pigments (compared to soft pastel). After drawing the outlines with a color pencil, I locked in my darkest and lightest values. Then it was a matter of consistently filling in the values in between, keeping in mind that I should keep blending to a minimum until the end. I played with some bright and dark hues for the background to create some contrast.



Working on pastel paper (i.e, paper with 'teeth' texture), there's a lot of unwanted white spots. The best way to deal with that is to blend with tortillions. I used different sizes of tortillions for the sky, flowers, and background foliages, the end result was magical. :) Actually, I think I might have over blended in some spots because it felt so soothing. I really like the name of this piece. We cannot control what life throws at us, but we can control how we react, and choose to look on the bright side.