Thursday, August 23, 2012

When you just need fifty shades of grey.

Bonkbusters leave me cold. If I read a sex-and-shopping novel I find the shopping more interesting than the sex. In fact reading any novel I'm likely to skim over the sex bits, muttering, "Oh, get on with the plot!"

So I'm not likely to grab a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey, the mummy porn book with record-breaking sales that has been described by the unkind as having the plot and literary style of Twilight with S&M thrown in. Needless to say I didn't read Twilight either. I had two reviews of it, one from a friend's vacuous teenage daughter who had re-read her copy so often it had fallen apart and could only bubble with incoherent delight and a lot of 'like's about the characters, and a snort of disgust from my intellectual stepson who said it was a poorly-written bit of fluff that set women's lib back fifty years.

But I do have a need for fifty shades of grey.

Or at least more than five.

I'm getting back into painting and drawing, and treated myself to a set of oil pastels last Monday. I've been using soft pastels and after chatting with some artist friends decided to give oil pastels a try. Soft pastels are great fun, amazingly messy, vividly coloured, but they do tend to smudge at the slightest touch and need fixatives. Too much fixative changes their colours, which is exceedingly annoying. Having just got back from holiday and into drawing scenes from Paris with soft pastels, my first few efforts, while not fab as I'm out of practice, were ruined by fixatives.

So. The oils. Great. They only smudge when you want them to. Realistically they don't need fixatives either, which is a huge bonus. But in drawing urban scenes, I found one thing lacking. A pale enough grey. I'd taken the precaution of buying extra greys as well as the set of 48, knowing I would need them. But it's hard to find one that's just a smudge darker than white, that colour that is just perfect for highlights, for sunshine falling on asphalt.

The beauty of oil pastels is that they blend like oil paints, you can smudge and blend and coerce, and use turpentine on them too if you want to meld and blur and blend. So yes, I could blend white with a darker grey, and did. But still... there is that particular pale shade I'm still searching for and that doesn't appear to exist across the major, well-made brands of pastel.

That aside, the first drawing I did with my oil pastels surprised me. I did it in three hours on Monday night (I am an impatient git), and was delighted at the workability of the pastels themselves. I am using Caran D'Ache pastels as research told me they are the softest and easiest to blend; their range of 96 colours is pretty good too.

Suddenly I got my groove back. My drawing turned out as I intended it to in terms of colour, composition and crispness. I'm happy with this.
And now you can see why I need fifty shades of grey!

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