Creating oil pastel scenes from fantasy. The images that Shipperley designs are so lush and charming that you want to step into these landscapes and sit close to these still life. But you can forget about it unless you can crawl inside the artist’s head. My work is 95% imaginative. I prefer to compose and create my motifs because it gives me the freedom to focus on the design and the composition. It argues that matter is secondary, that an interpretation filtered through feelings and emotions distinguishes one artist from another. Here Shipperley shares her artistic approach and a demonstration of her creating Pathway, a landscape scene from a fantasy.
Shipperley has served originally with oil pastels for the last 15 years, taking out the colors you would expect in a landscape or still life until those hues leave reality far behind. The result is a vision of magical places. While he occasionally paints portraits with cool drawing ideas and energy to create street scenes, his portfolio contains mostly fictional landscapes. The remarkable thing about it is that George Shipperley, the master colorist, is color blind. Pure area codes are relatively easy for him to recognize. His favorite color is red. When I’m only dealing with this color, I see it so well: pure red or variations, like oranges.
I like working with red and often start with red on my palette. As Shipperley proceeds to a painting but adds colors and values, he finds that it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish red from green and brown or blue from gray, and so on. However, she has never perceived her color blindness as a problem because she sees the color values. I don’t forever know what the shades are. But I remember when others are right.
Shipperley fell in love with the paintings when he saw the Impressionists work on his first journey to the Art Institute of Chicago. It was Arleux-Palluel, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s dating bridge that captured him. No wonder this high-contrast painting of an idyllic scene worked. Other characters on his beautiful include traditional music, pictures of great musicians, and the Midwestern landscape, which he accounts for the severity of its beauty. Although his high school goal was to become an artist, Shipperley worked in the tire industry for more than 30 years before retiring in early 1994.
Special oil pastels
Today he paints 75 to 80 pieces a year. He works quickly and can finish a painting in a day. Larger jobs sometimes take a week. Some parts are pushed aside until he has the concept worked out more clearly in his head. The speed with which he can produce finished works is brought to the medium of oil pastel. Oil and acrylic painters have to wait between coats for their colors to dry; the oil pastel never really dries out and is suitable for faster work implementation. The moist nature of the medium requires that the finished work be matted and framed under glass to preserve it. Some people spray their work. I don’t support that. If used improperly, the spray can change the lines and colors.
Find the adaptability and ease of use of the oil pastels enjoyable. They offer a versatility that could not achieve with other media. He consistently relies on the best materials – in his eyes Holbein and Sennelier. He recommends Holbein for his 225 appearances and body, which means less wax and more pigment. Sennelier Grand oil pastels, which are eight times larger than regular pastels, are favorites. He finds that smaller Sennelier oil pastels effectively add a creamy finishing touch to the final stage.
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Shipperley points out that he is not a structured artist, nor does he use preliminary sketches. It makes all the corrections during the painting process, which sometimes scrapes everything off with a razor and starts over. In Shipperley’s way of thinking, such setbacks can improve the painting. The scraps left on the board make a great background. I’m only interested in the bottom line, no matter what I have to do to get there. Over the years, Shipperley has been less interested in the subject and more in the design and suggestion. He allowed himself the luxury of being strictly arbitrary in the choice of color. It’s more important to me to create color than to imitate it.
Your first step in creating her art is deciding what size sheet she will be using, then putting 1 inch of tape around the edges for a clean edge. He particularly likes the square format. If your subject is a landscape, first draw a horizontal line across the entire painting to set the horizon (see the full landscape demonstration below). For his mostly floral still lies, he first sketches the basic shape of the vase or flower vessel. It has no still life to relate to. Once the design is established, rough up dark masses of paint that form the basis for flower stems or petals, then he cuts off the stems or leaves with a razor blade.
The score is permanent, so no matter what it changes, I will not lose those marks. Then he adds a line or outline of oil pastel indicating a table or other surface on which the vase will rest. He later removed some of the dark colors with Winsor & Newton Liquin to reveal the marked lines. The idea is to remove just enough of the oil pastel that the flower stalks are visible but still leave the tone of the flower mass on the board. Then draw suggestions for individual flowers, add all the necessary colors in the vase, setting and background, and complete the color and shape of the table. To finish the painting, increase or decrease the values as needed and apply highlights.
During the painting process, I often change my mind about what I’m doing, says Shipperley. His color blindness needs experimentation; Chromatic harmonies are the greatest challenge but also the greatest reward. Like his beloved Impressionists, Shipperley uses a lot of grays. I preach it in my lab. I use gray to soften my colors, and there are many shades of gray to choose from with oil pastels. However, these shades of gray do not stay gray; they become tones of the colors you use. To blend, rub the color on the board with a razor and paper towels with liquid. This process produces a wonderful sound effect controlled by the amount of media used or the pressure and amount of rubbing.
Extract the essence
For an artist who had to put his dream aside, Shipperley is in full swing these days. The style he developed helped him create art in a torrent. I tell my students not to hold on to what they paint but to what they think. You can paint with your hands and eyes, but you have to paint with your heart. In the course of his work, he realizes that he can omit more and more details. “Maybe I paint too many leaves on the flowers, too many trees in a landscape, too much detail on the ground. It’s like throwing a bunch of things into a sieve and what’s left is the essence.
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