In the weeks leading up to the launch of Pastel Today, Christopher Volpe, editor of Inside Art, wrote a brief yet illuminating article on the history of pastels. (Read it here.) At the start, the painting, ”Young Lady with a Parrot” by Rosalba Carriera (12 January 1673-15 April 1757), greets us.
A Venetian Rococo artist who worked in pastel, Rosalba, as she is known, was one of the artists who helped popularize the medium in the 18th century. She was also a very successful artist, a pretty fabulous feat in the male-dominated field.
So, back to Christopher’s blog… I was drawn to this flirty painting and thought it would be worthwhile having a closer look at this young lady with a parrot.
Although I’m impressed by the skill with which Rosalba suggests textures in fabric and hair, it’s the young lady’s face that really pulled me in.
Look at the eyes. If you ever want to know how to create convincing eyes, have a deep long look at these. There are so many lost and found edges. Can you see how there’s less delineation than you might think? So much is suggested. And look at the subtle change of value from one eye to the other.
And now, check out her lips – so much said with so little. There’s the barest suggestion of teeth and the hint of a smile. And I love the smudge of bright red.
Let’s go check out the mischievous parrot. Notice its colouring is perfectly coordinated with the blue dress. The bird pulls back the gauzy fabric, baring more of the young lady’s skin.
By the way, if you know anything about parrots, you’ll know that they have two toes facing forward and two facing backwards which gives them their ability to hold and grip. This is unlike the toes of say pigeons or hawks that have three toes facing forward, one facing backwards. The parrot in Rosalba’s painting appears to have this type of toe structure which suggests that Rosalba may not have had a parrot to use as a subject.
Looking back at art from the past can help us improve our own work. There’s so much to learn from the skill of past masters if we take the time to observe and absorb them.
I’d love to know your thoughts about this painting.
All for now,
P.S. So, is it only me that thinks the young lady with a parrot is taking a selfie?
Lyn Diefenbach joins the webinar on Wednesday!
Do you know the amazing work of Lyn Diefenbach? Have a look at this video to acquaint yourself with Lyn and her work.
Another example of Lyn’s work
Here’s the link to join the free webinar with Eric Rhoads, myself, Nancie King Mertz, Rita Kirkman, and Lyn Diefenbach – Taking your pastel work to the highest possible level.