I don’t have a background in art, but I have been able to take a few courses and visit some amazing museums in my life. My two favorite art styles are about as different as they could be. I love the geometry and industrial themes of Precisionism, and I love the loose landscapes of Impressionism. You might have glimpsed a few nods to Impressionist artists around The Mad House. I leaned a Van Gogh print on the baker’s rack in the Mad House dining room and used a Monet poster as part of my Anthropologie-inspired art plates.
When I decided to play around with a box of oil pastels, I took inspiration from Impressionism and created an abstract water motif on a canvas shaped like an ampersand. If you are familiar with Monet’s Water Lilies, I hope you can see how I was inspired.
I remember using oil pastels for an art project in grade school, but beyond that I have no experience using them. I was given a box of them and have been looking for a low-risk way to use them ever since. I found this canvas ampersand at Michael’s and thought it would be a great base for a simple pastels project.
I picked out the pastels from the box that matched my memory of lovely impressionist waterscapes. First, I experiment with using cotton swabs and water to blend the pastels, but I found that loading up the canvas with pastels and then blending with a dry swab worked the best. Even using the cottons swabs to blend, I still ended up with pigment on my hands.
I blended the blue shades together to create the “water” at the top of the piece. On the bottom half, I colored a layer of greens and topped that with a layer of blues. I blended all those pastels together to create the “lily pad” portion of the project.
My ampersand is no impressionist masterpiece, but I really do love how it turned out. I haven’t yet decided if I should spray the piece with sealant to keep the pastels from rubbing off. Any suggestions on that front?
Obviously, you could use this same technique on any size and shape of canvas. If you are willing to take the time, you could color and blend a large scale canvas for relatively inexpensive wall art.
Which is your favorite art style or period of art history?