Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Leslie B. DeMille's Pastel Portrait Demo at IAPS

I was fortunate enough to sign up to see Leslie B. DeMille's pastel portrait demo at IAPS.  What an honor! This man is 86 years old and has been painting portraits and teaching for over 60 years.  He has a great personality which made it even more fun and enjoyable to watch him paint.

demo sketch from IAPS of Mike the Cowboy

He uses velour paper in a beige/ochre color - Hannemuhle, a German paper that is acid-free and archival. You can order it from Dakota here.  He uses about 10 sheets of newspaper beneath his paper so it has "give".  Pressure is important when working this way...the harder you press, the darker the pastel covers.

This is a character study, as the person is looking off into the distance.  He feels finished portraits usually look right at the viewer.  Demille is famous for his Cowboys and has work in the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Here is a photo of "Mike the Cowboy" (our model in cowboy hat & scarf!)

Mr. Demille begins with Conte crayons and does a light overall sketch finding the features, measuring distances from the eyes, the enter of the chin, the angles of the face, etc.  He squints to see values.  I found it interesting that he said to squint by just dropping your upper eyelids down and not to grimace!

It was evident how much fun he has teaching and painting.  I was amazed at his ease and skill.

He uses 21 colors + white & black, Rembrandts and has his own portrait set from them.  See here

Using Rembrandts since 1960, he recommended them when he made his 13 episode PBS TV Series "Portraits in Pastel".  He can do any portrait with this set....I couldn't help but buy some of these pastels after watching him.

After the initial sketch, he uses warm Gray & White Conte to indicate warms and cools.  He likes to make cowboy hats larger than they appear to be....the same with eyeglasses....

He then uses color - blushing over the raw umber paper sketch with a light cadmium red and a "fleshy" cadmium red.  A little yellow on the forehead, ears and cheeks are more red, blue/green in the chin zone.  He is not concerned about detail at this point.  He never blends with his fingers, but allows the pastel strokes to glaze and correct colors.  (He makes it look sooo easy!)

The eye area is the most important part.  He likes to start and work from the center of the face out.  The upper lid casts a shadow on the eye - darker top lid (eye-liner he jokes)  Remember that the Iris comes out a bit from the eye - the lid covers it differently.  The only place he uses black is within the eye (pupil)  The pupil can go up into the shadow above the eye.  Soften edges - the eye is wet.  The lower lid is flatter and goes under the upper lid.  (This man knows what he's doing!)

This was the view from the projector screen - he had a large appreciative audience.

He gave tips about the shapes and shadows of the lips (corners are always darkest and warm, lower lip is lighter than the upper lip)...and that you should suggest the mustache and not paint in the hairs.

A very educational experience...I can't wait to try out Velour paper soon.

Thanks for following....stay tuned for my two other demo experiences at IAPS.

Have a creative day!

Kim Werfel

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