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Pastel Art of James Southworth


"Nursing the Iris"



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Every May, Keizer Oregon has an Iris Festival and a call for art to be featured on the yearly poster. This past May I spend several delightful early mornings in the fields and gardens just north of town. I use my Nikon digital camera to record the feel of the gardens 

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You guessed it, I'm planning on entering the Iris poster contest. The rules are; the painting needs to be 18 x24 " in size, depict the festival theme "Making it happen", and include the blue-white theme iris

"American Classic". 

This photo captures the theme theme iris.  

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As I said, I really liked the photo of the gardener staking the iris but no "American Classics"  Fortunately I took a photo of these iris that same morning. My only chore would be to merge the 2 photos.

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I'm using the peach color La Carte paper. I outlined my main shapes and and first laid in all my lights using unison pastels

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Since the nursery man is my center of interest I made him the most detailed and brought him to completion. Next I laid in my blacks and fixed the blacks so I can add color over it later on

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I'm developing three zone of color going from top to bottom; reds, purples, yellows and blues. Greens will be mixed throughout. I want all these colors to harmonize but not steal the show from the man. This is where it takes faith it will all work out in the end

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Now I'm adding colors into the blacks to give them some zip. From left to right I added subtle reds blue-greens and yellows. Here I'm also working on the red background flowers and zone of yellow Iris.

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Now I've bought the top half of the painting to a conclusion of sorts. Now it is time to blend in the "American Classic" Iris into the Foreground. I put whites where I wanted the flowers to go

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I've laid in the American Classics iris similar to my reference photo. To soften everything I took the drastic step of smudging all the flowers with my finger. This blends the flowers and keeps them from being to detailed since they might steel the show form the gardener.


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Final size 18 x 24". How does the storey end? Will this be the iris poster or just another addition to my living room gallery. Stayed tuned, I'll find out in January or February 2003

Update March!! The judges kindly selected the pastel to be the poster!!