I traveled with a friend in April 2012 to see the “Van Gogh Up Close” exhibit. Although it seems I love the Impressionists best, van Gogh is a step apart from the Impressionist styles we find most familiar in Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cassatt with his stylized forms and brilliant, often non-representational colors. I’d only seen a few original van Gogh paintings, and taking in an entire exhibit intended to show you van Gogh’s work near enough to touch and to see his influences filled my head with dimensional flower petals, rippling wheat textured in fields, dappled leaves seeming to move with the extra layers of paint. I closely studied the way he roughly blended colors into one another and what colors he used, the brilliant greens contrasted with the earthy sepia, lots of yellow and blue.
All the way home on the Megabus I remembered the colors and shapes and textures, and wanted to work the same energy and form I saw in his brush strokes, visualizing oil pastel to layer and blend the strokes as an experiment. Arriving home in Pittsburgh just a few hours later I saw Giuseppe and Mr. Sunshine, just quietly hanging together on the landing, Giuseppe sitting upright, Sunshine loafing, and visualized exactly what I would sketch.
I am channeling Vincent van Gogh tonight, trying to work the same energy and form I see in his brush strokes. I can layer with oil pastel, but can’t apply or build up the thickness of medium that can be accomplished with paint; this sketch is also quite small, about 6″ x 5″, so I can’t work all the little strokes in as I’d like, but perhaps I’ll actually try this on canvas at some point, and something a little bigger.
Originally the sketch had only the two cats as do most of my daily sketches, but I decided that if I was to truly create homage to van Gogh, I needed to have a background for these two to exist within, especially that lovely cerulean blue and turquoise van Gogh often used. I added the background the next day, scraped my name into the oil pastel in the lower left as Vincent often did in his paint. This is final the one you see above.
Since then, when the pull of the textures and layers and colors draws me in, I’ve worked several other images in oil pastel in similar style. Oil pastel is not a popular medium, and I found it difficult to learn to handle. I’d actually done a few other landscape and still life paintings with them years ago, but put them aside in favor of my chalk pastels in my tiny crowded studio. With the first daily sketch I did in oil pastel, “Grape Jelly Bean”, I explained the basic difference between oil pastels and chalk pastels, and what a challenge the oil pastels were for me:
I frequently work in chalk pastel, especially for commissioned portraits, because of its versatility in application and range of colors from delicate to vibrant to deep. Chalk pastels are made from pure pigment in a binder ranging from fine clay to gum arabic or cellulose to form a shape to be held in hand to draw and are, as the term “chalk” would describe, a dry medium.
Oil pastels may have a similar name but that’s about the end of the similarity. A relatively new medium at less than 100 years old, the pigment is combined with a non-drying oil and wax which makes it more like a soft crayon, and that was exactly what it felt like when I first began to work with it years ago, a crayon! I put it aside, disliking the feel of it and my lack of control, but when I worked in an art supply store and frame shop, I framed an oil pastel drawing that absolutely fascinated me with how it had been applied with abandon, layered, and even had areas carved out of it nearly down to the paper to create visual and physical texture.
For me, this is the fun and the importance of creating my daily sketches. I don’t get the opportunity to experiment as often as I’d like, it’s best for me to use a subject I’m familiar with. When I was learning calligraphy and mastering the different pen tips and inks, I used my name, all 25 letters of it and including some atypical shapes and combinations, lettering it over and over so that I could focus on just the skill. Years ago, when I’d decided I was finally going to learn to draw I decided to use my cats as models for the same reason, and today it is the same; rendering things I see all the time in my familiar space I am able to focus on the medium and explore its capabilities without worrying if my subject is correct.
This is available as a digital print in my Etsy shop.
This month’s desktop calendar
And just as it’s entertaining and instructive for me to create daily sketches, in my life as a graphic designer it’s also fun for me to design something just for me, and to work out creative ideas with these desktop calendars each month.
I’ve worked this image into a desktop calendar for you to enjoy during the month of March. Reading statistics and knowing that more than half of my readers view this site on a mobile device, I also offer the dimensions for desktop images for mobile devices from iPads to Smartphones.
- Click on one of the images below that matches the dimensions of your monitor to open the image in a new page.
- Right-click on that image and on a desktop computer choose “save as desktop wallpaper” or “save as background” or whichever option your operating system gives you to be able to do this. You may also simply save it to your hard drive and set it as your background from there.
Desktop and laptop computers
2560×1440 (16:9 for large monitors)
1920×1200 (16:10 and HD monitors)
1920×1080 (16:9 monitors)
1280×1024 (4:3 monitors)
800×1280 (Samsung Galaxy, etc.)
720×1280 (Android phones)
600×1024 (Nook Color, Blackberry Playbook)
480×320 (Blackberry, HTC)
240×320 (smartphones, texting phones)
Take a look at other featured artwork and desktop calendar posts.
Each month I feature a piece of feline artwork from the archives to the present day, discuss its history and process, and set it up as a free downloadable desktop calendar for just about every electronic device available.
If you are interested in a print of this image, check my Etsy shop to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.