Sunday, 20 June 2010

JM Whistler's pastel landscapes of Venice

 The Guidecca - Winter: Grey and Blue (1879) by James Abbott McNeill Whistler
8"x 11.75", chalk drawing

I'm a huge fan of Whistler's pastel landscapes.  He made a number in his lifetime however he did a series in Venice while there making his suite of etchings of Venice following the court case against Ruskin which he lost.

Margaret F. MacDonald writes about his approach to using pastels in  Palaces in the Night: Whistler in Venice. She reckons he used pastels when it was too cold to etch plein air.

The Zattere: Harmony in Blue and Brown by James Abbott McNeill Whistler
11" x 7.5", chalk drawing
His technique for drawing landscapes using pastels is as follows:
  • use the colour of the paper to set the tone of the work
  • draw the outline of subject using black chalk; (his line shows the skill of an artist who can wield an engaving needle with dexterity)
  • limited application of coloured pastels; note there is no attempt to fill the tooth of the paper
  • delicate use of the side of the pastel (a breath on the paper) to scumble across the paper with the point being used to create emphasis
Note also that the size of the support for the above work is A4 although to my eye it 'seems' bigger.  When drawing or etching he always seems to work at a size which is easily portable.

You can find out more about Whistler in my information site which I compiled following a project about him - see James McNeill Whistler - Resources for Art Lovers 

A contemporary artist who uses much the same technique with pastels is Diana Armfield RA RWS

6 comments:

Robyn said...

Blissful, aren't they!

Sherrie Y said...

Gorgeous, thank you for sharing!

Casey Klahn said...

JMW is a worthy painter to showcase. What I love about these (esp. the latter image) is the perfect, as it were, composition. The groupings are just so, and without the common error many make of having too much negative space. The spaces are in balance (and I imagine him rendering that quickly).

Lisa McShane said...

Lovely - thanks!

P.S.: I like the tweaks to the blog

Bridget Hunter said...

I love these and hadn't seen any of his pastel work before. Thankyou for posting.

Jo-Ann Sanborn said...

Yummy! I love these in the same way that I love Winslow Homers watercolors of Fl. Thanks for sharing

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