Monday, March 1, 2010

Michael Chesley Johnson Pastel Workshop

On Saturday afternoon, we completed the 2nd half day of a 2 session Intro to Pastel at the Sedona Art Center. The workshop was lead by Michael Chesley Johnson, a well-known and highly regarded artist and frequent contributor to such magazines as Artists Magazine and the Pastel Journal.
This was an "intro" course and Michael did a very good job in explaining the basics without getting too basic. Bonnie and Alexandra were the other two students. All of us had experience with other mediums but we were relatively new to pastels. Bonnie used acrylics and like to paint animals and Alexandra painted on fabric.

Michael spent the first hour or so explaining the different types of paper, use of washes, types of pastels, mounting, framing, storing, etc and answered all of our questions. He also provided numerous resources for any other questions we would have.
For the rest of that session and through the following session, we would paint using Canson paper, Wallis paper with an alcohol wash and, finally, art spectrum paper. This was a very good exercise to give us an idea of the texture of the different papers, how to use the wash and the feel of the soft and hard pastels on the different surfaces.
For each painting we followed his basic process of: Analyze the Shapes, Outline the big shapes on the paper, Block in the Average color and value, Adjust big colors and values, Establish extremes, Break big shapes into smaller shapes, and Refine and adjust.
I found this to be a very helpful and concentrated workshop. Michael got a lot across in the time frame and we all picked up a lot of information and got started on 3 pastels.
Here are my feeble efforts.

Cabin at Slide Rock Park - I should probably start this one all over again.

Red Rocks - I can probably make some more progress on this. This is the one with the alcohol wash.

Still life - My severest critic, Judy, said, "That pitcher is awful!" Did she mean she was full of awe?


  1. Everybody wants to be an art director!

  2. I like this post a lot, Tony. Using different papers is a great exercise. I'd like to know what you thought about each surface.

    We all discussed Judy's comment at class. What a hoot!

    Although these are lovely, I still like your lemon tree best!
    Keep at it!