To share with you something of the process of creating one of my artworks, I have created this montage of six stages of A Handful of Faith. This is a pastel painting, using pastel pencils on Pastelmat paper. This allows for a lot of detail which is of course important to me, and as the pastel builds and blends on the page it becomes beautifully creamy.
This artwork speaks to me of universiality, ritual and of course faith. We each have many rituals in our day to day lives, most of which we may not be aware of till circumstances change and we then become aware of all the ways we usually like to do things. The rituals associated with prayer can be specific to religions, or specific to individuals, and they can bring as much comfort as the words themselves.
I have no doubt that these hands have held these beads countless times, and that the movements are so embedded in the memory of the muscles that they have taken on a life of their own. There is a beauty in that familiarity, and in the faith of the person we observe. Their anonymity makes it easy for us to identify with them, perhaps thinking of ourselves, our grandparents, people we may have met or of the greater hands of a faith that holds us.
Once the full series of hands studies has been completed, I will make available limited edition prints and greetings cards of A Handful of Faith, A Handful of Lotus Seeds, A Handful of Salt, A Handful of Chillies and the others.
Thanks go to Réhahn Photography for his amazing image.
With my latest artwork A Handful of Faith on the drawing board, I have now passed the halfway mark in the journey of creating my series of six hands studies. Each artwork is in pastel, and they are all featuring hands that through their actions tell a story of every day life for these individuals in Vietnam.
A Handful of Faith is the fourth pastel painting, and you can see it’s humble beginnings here in my studio. I typically work across the whole page when I start an artwork, blocking in the basic values of light and shade and getting a sense of the outlines and proportions. Details will then be very gradually introduced and developed, most commonly according to what catches my eye at any given time.
I spend a lot of time sat before this drawing slope in my studio, with natural light thanks to the North facing window and my daylight lamp boosting levels whenever it gets a little dim. This is how I work, with my drawing materials on my right hand side and any reference materials and my pencil sharpener to the left.
Over the years I have developed a system that works well for me. I have three sets of pastel pencils that are laid out, each has slightly different qualities and colours to the next, and the three together make the dream team. The pastel pencils that you see stood up in the cup are those I have used thus far on the picture in progress, and those laying down beside this are the pencil which I am using for the part of the picture I am drawing right now. These will typically be held in my left hand whilst I draw so that I can quickly swap them around, as so much of my work changes in colour every few millimetres.
The first three pastel paintings in this series are A Handful of Chillies, A Handful of Salt and A Handful of Lotus Seeds.
Many thanks go to Réhahn Photography for his inspiring reference images.