Milescapes Art – Gifts, Original Artwork and Photography [Blog]

February 7, 2012

Continuing Adventures in Pastel Portrait Painting

Filed under: Posts — Marianne Miles @ 10:05 pm

Well, it’s the dead of winter again and I have not only broken out the pastels, I have invested a bundle in Pan Pastels – the softest pastels available. I do so want to learn how to handle them! Unfortunately for me, they go on with these wonderful Sofft art sponges and I am just not good with tools. I am willing to put a lot of time into practicing because I believe the results will be worth it. To begin with, I was extremely cautious. I was doing a landscape and building (Plumley Engineering, here in B’ville) ordered by the employees there as a Christmas gift for their boss, and only used the Pan Pastels for the sky, lawn, some foliage, and the daylilies. Here’s the finished painting:

Plumley Engineering


As soon as we returned from celebrating Christmas in Massachusetts I got back to working on portraits of people. 

We had a wonderful visit with family while we were home and I got some good photographs of our granddaughter, Emily. I chose one of her to use as a model for my first portrait of 2012. Seems like she always has a big red apple in her hand so I was hoping to do one of those. I was timid about using the new Pan Pastels so I went with white paper and didn’t try to do anything challenging to improve the flush lighting caused by my camera’s flash. Here is Emily, our Big Apple Girl:

Emily, our Big Apple Girl

Actually, I was quite pleased with Emily’s portrait, mostly because it actually looks like her.

I had promised my neighbor, Dom, that I would do a picture of him last fall and just never go to it. I had him come and sit for some photographs and put him near a window so I would have good light that I wouldn’t have to create from my imagination. It was difficult to choose which picture to use because Dom has a really great face. Here is the photograph I chose:

Dominick DiCaprio, model photograph for portrait


I was still being careful, using white paper and trying very hard to just draw what I was seeing. Here is the finished portrait:


Dominick, in Pastel

When I had finished with Dominick I was happy enough with him, but felt that the overall portrait was wimpy and that the colors needed to be stronger. For instance, with both Emily and Dom, I had trouble recognizing them from more than a few feet away. I decided to use a darker colored paper so the colors would “pop”. Here is the finished Avery portrait. I am still a long way from where I would like to be. Avery looks okay but is overworked and I am again unhappy with the skin tones. Fortunately for me, the groundhog saw his shadow and there will six more weeks of winter for me to keep practicing my portraits. I’m also hoping to purchase a DVD set by an artist who does children’s portraits in pastel.


Avery, in Pastel

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

See a picture you like?  You can buy it at
Call or email me with your ideas, suggestions or questions. I'd love to hear from you!
Phone: 315-638-4190; Email:

Marianne Miles   20 Downer Street   Baldwinsville, NY   315.638.4190