One of our members Gillina sent her picture of the Ferret Project which is available to members of our website. As a member Gillina can send in her work for feedback and advice. Gillina writes:
I tried your Ferret portrait tutorial using the Pitts and Ingres paper. I found it really difficult to work on this paper and I got frustrated many times, I then cared less about the piece which is why I landed up with this. Square jaw and a dark ring around the head. I felt like I was too heavy handed for this paper. I filled to tooth too soon and therefore couldn’t do any details. I think I will do this again but on pastelmat but I don’t want to dismiss Ingres and let it beat me.
I would like to know how you get a light hand. I tried holding the pencil half way up but then got nothing. Oh frustrating, I will try again.
Listen or read Colin’s advice below:
I think I’ve done quite a good job of it but I do understand your frustration. It’s not easy when you’re starting out with pastel pencils knowing just how much pressure to put on them.
Too much pressure when you feel the tooth, not enough pressure and you get a sketch. Well it is somewhere between those two that you’ve got to work on and you can only do this with practice.
One of the things I noticed particularly is if you look at the top of the head between the two ears and you have dark brown you can see the tooth running through that. Now the question is what you do there? Do you put more pressure on it. Well the thing is you build up the colour from the lighter colours to the darker colours and I suggest what you do is look at my video again and concentrate on just that one area. You’ll see how I managed to get the tooth filled up with the colours that I put on.
Now you were saying that you felt that you didn’t have a light enough touch. Well I hold my pencil and if you look at where I hold my pencil you’ll see that when I’m doing any particular part of a picture that is the correct way of doing it because I have a lot of experience so follow that. That’s something again you’ve got to look at.
Don’t try to do things on your own like halfway up a pencil you’ll lose control. Very often I’m very close to the tip of the pencil when I’m working. You’ll see that sometimes I’m a little bit further away it depends what I’m doing. But if you’re trying to get to the right touch you’ve got to hold it in different ways and you’ll see again how I do that. So that’s something I would concentrate on. I think the actual ear itself you’ve done a good job of it. Probably because they’re lighter so you’re looking at the whites and the pinks and the face generally I think you’ve done a good job of it to be honest. So I think it’s only the experience and I would also try a different subject on your paper you know not just the animals.
Because if you try different subjects you’ll find you’ll have to use different techniques and that might help you. You said that you would do it on pastelmat, well pastelmat is very responsive and you can work better but I personally would never recommend a beginner starting on pastelmat because it’s hard to get the colour blend. Okay you won’t get the tooth you won’t see that but it’s hard to put the colours on and make them work.
But I’m not going to stop you from trying. It’s worth a go. Again I’ve done plenty of pastelmat pictures for you to have a good look at.
I hope that all helps. I look forward to seeing more of your pictures in due course.