Pastel Demo: Michael Chesley Johnson’s The Winner

Pastel artist Michael Chesley Johnson shares his step-by-step pastel demo of The Winner (pastel) in which he uses the newly released Pastels Girault Claudia Seymour Still Life Set. For more about the pastels, see the April 2016 issue of Pastel Journal, available in print or as a download, at northlightshop.com, and on newsstands March 8.


Demonstration: The Winner
I tried to use as many of the 50 Claudia Seymour Still Life basic-set pastels as possible in my still life painting depicting a winning still life painting. The pastels suited the painting perfectly, from block-in to finish, and didn’t require support from other pastels.

STEP 1:
Using the smooth, untextured side of a sheet of Canson Mi-Teintes steel gray pastel paper, I drew in the basic shapes with vine charcoal.

Step 1, The Winner (pastel) by Michael Chesley Johnson | artistsnetwork.com

Step 1, The Winner (pastel) by Michael Chesley Johnson

STEP 2:
To determine the tonal range, I blocked in the illuminated wall with a scumble of white, the lightest value; established the mid-values of the frame with yellow, orange and red; and finally added the darkest note with a dark green in the cast shadow of the scallop shell.

Step 2, The Winner (pastel) by Michael Chesley Johnson | artistsnetwork.com

Step 2, The Winner (pastel) by Michael Chesley Johnson

STEP 3:
To explore the chromatic range, I continued to block in the landscape painting with more neutral colors and then added the brightest note using the stick of yellow pastel on the table,

Step 3, The Winner (pastel) by Michael Chesley Johnson | artistsnetwork.com

Step 3, The Winner (pastel) by Michael Chesley Johnson

STEP 4:
I modified colors by layering, particularly in the picture frame, by modifying the yellows, oranges and reds with greens, violets and blues.

Step 4, The Winner (pastel) by Michael Chesley Johnson | artistsnetwork.com

Step 4, The Winner (pastel) by Michael Chesley Johnson

FINAL:
I added touches of gray to the highlights on the frame to gray down a yellow that felt a little too intense for reflected light. Then, I added a set of color swatches to complete my theme. I originally had a few blues among the swatches, but I felt they dominated the painting too much. With this in mind, I erased the pastel completely with a brush and an eraser (seen in the foreground) and replaced the colors with dull red to complete The Winner.

The Winner (pastel) by Michael Chesley Johnson | artistsnetwork.com

The Winner (pastel) by Michael Chesley Johnson

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