'City of Lights' Abstract Pastel


Abstract art 
is the freedom to express without judgment.
 Abstract art offers the opportunity to improvise with various mediums and surfaces. Abstract art offers a playful way to be bold with design concepts.

City of Lights: Pastel by Minaz Jantz

City of Lights (Pastel)

Abstract art perks up my creative juices to go wild with spontaneous ideas, giving me the freedom to jump into the creative abyss!

I like to do abstract art after I finish with representational painting such as my previous painting Sunflower Diptych. I was inspired to visit my older charcoal drawing 'City of Lights' and transform it into a new medium and new era. One of my motivations to redo my favorite charcoal drawing was seeing it decay year after year because I used cheap drawing newsprint paper... I thought to remake 'City of Lights' in pastel on archival Canson Pastel paper.

What is acid free paper?

Lesson Learned: ALWAYS buy acid-free paper. Artist-grade materials will be more expensive and promise longevity but cheaper means it is not going to survive and will break down quickly such as my 'City of Lights' drawing & collage. Silly me didn't think to buy the acid-free paper so now my favorite charcoal drawing is decaying and it's turned yellow over the 10-year period.

You can see back in 2005 the charcoal rubbing was light grey and in 10 years aging now into yellow and decaying. There is no getting around it so spend a few extra dollars and make the commitment that your work is worthy, even the experimental work. If the art doesn't turn out, do not throw it out but save it for collage and experimentation. 

City of Lights ORIGINAL Charcoal Rubbings by Minaz Jantz

City of Lights ORIGINAL Charcoal Rubbings by Minaz Jantz

'City of Lights' was made originally with charcoal rubbings on newsprint drawing paper. The rubbings were done for one of my art classes at the East Vancouver Art Academy. The building and outside area were the surfaces I used for the charcoal rubbings so easy to say this is a portrait of the old Vancouver Art Academy. The collage rubbings tell a further story of the views I saw out my Vancouver loft windows. 

List of Pastel brands

Listed is my growing collection of pastel brands. Each pastel brand is not only a unique color mix but also each brand's mark-making abilities have its own specific way of expelling the pigments onto various toothy surfaces. 

You may think pastel is just a stick of color but it's more than color, it's how it leaves texture thick and thin and how it shows painterly marks. 

Three drawer dresser converted into soft pastel storage.

Three drawer dresser converted into soft pastel storage

I found an OLD dresser in a snowbank a few years ago and dragged it home to fix it up and make it become my PERFECT pastel storage unit. I divided the drawers with cardboard to separate the pastels into their value ranges from light to dark. For some pastels like Schminke & Sennelier, I leave them in their original boxes as they are too fragile to toss into a drawer. 

Pan Pastel in plastic holder with Sofft tools.

Pan Pastel in the plastic holder with Sofft tools

Pan Pastels are self-contained much like make-up and can put them into a very handy plastic holder with a protective lid which I place in their value ranges for fast identification. The plastic is very durable and not flimsy. These pastels will travel well. I love the sponge Sofft palette tools for applying the pastel as it creates a light shimmering of pigment onto the surface. 

The Sofft foam applicators as seen in the photo can take a lot of abuse and can rinse them out to dry but I bought enough of them to make each one a different color and just use them till they are worn out. They do wear out but not very expensive to buy a bag of sponge tips for the Sofft palette tool. There are also large sponges in different shapes for larger sweeps of pigment onto the surface and these are awesome to use too but on this abstract, I stuck with the Sofft foam applicators. 

Pan Pastel is a lot of fun to use and also performs very differently from any other brand of pastel. In the photos, the circles of Pan Pastel pigment colors can be put into the holder which comes with a lid. Genius way to keep pastels safe and to handle them easily in their value ranges just like a palette. 

Soft pastels is the gateway to color bliss!

I just bought some MORE pastel brands for my ever-expanding collection and thought to try out the new 14 favorite violet pastels from Terry Ludwig and 12 Terrages Set from Diane Townsand pastels. I am going to give them a try for the first time with, 'City of Lights'.

Start with transferring drawing onto pastel paper.

'The City of Lights' original charcoal collage is going to have a resurrection and decided to trace the original drawing first onto tracing paper so I can preserve the original and make any changes on the tracing paper. 

  • outlined the major shapes of the original collage so I can make it free to be NEW and not just a copy. 
  • traced with white tracing paper onto the smooth side of black Canson paper.

Vancouver skyline with Woodwards 'W' Neon sign and fireworks.

Vancouver at night sparkles and I had front row seats at my 20-foot high loft windows and could even watch the fireworks display that outlined the city buildings with colorful flashes.

Vancouver skyline with Woodwards 'W' Neon sign and fireworks.

Vancouver skyline with Woodwards 'W' Neon sign and fireworks.

I could clearly view the Woodwards original 'W' sign (lower left side of photo) in 2005 but in 2006, new construction began and it was taken down forever. The old 'W' neon sign is in the lobby of the new building. 

The Woodwards 1904 building has LOTS of history and controversial conversions which created radical campouts surrounding the old building and lots of voices speaking out loud and in protest with what should be the future of this city site. The NEW building now exists and can READ more about the Woodwards building's history and what it is today. 

The view of the city of Vancouver  came from our Lofty Palace windows in East Vancouver.

The Lofty Palace windows in East Vancouver.

My new version of my old charcoal rubbings collage, 'City of Lights', reflects the colorful skyline. I remember fondly when the Vancouver Art Academy was just down the street from my loft in East Vancouver and was a dream come true for me to walk to the school and learn from such talented master teachers. 

This painting is going to be fond memories of the nighttime views, from my 'lofty palace' looking out over the skyline of Vancouver, B.C.

Each pastel brand expressing uniquely on Canson paper.

This was the first time I got to see the uniqueness of Pan Pastels & its foam tools and to find out that they performed sublimely on Canson's smooth side of the paper. 

The Sofft sponge tools took the pastel across the surface in sheer sweeps much like a glaze, shimmering under the color while mixing with the top layer. 

Pan Pastel Sofft applicator tools.

Pan Pastel Sofft applicator tools.

I used the edges of the sponge palette tools to make straight edges and shape lines. The tools make for an effect similar to a paintbrush but only need a light touch that takes the Pan Pastel pigment a long way across the paper in one swipe.

Pastel Choice for 'City of Lights'

Pastel Choice for 'City of Lights'

Ziggy approves of my pastel selection for this painting. I have to keep cheese treats in the studio and hide them throughout so he looks forward to cheese hunting! Got to keep the boss happy!

Close-up view of 'City of Lights'

Close-up view of 'City of Lights'

The stick-shaped pastels were chosen not only for their color but also their ability to leave thicker marks, leaving a texture on the paper surface, building up from the sheer Pan Pastels which work out fabulous for the undercoat, while leaving enough 'tooth' to the paper, to apply another thicker pastel over top.  

The tooth of the paper is relating to the smooth, soft, and rough feel of the surface of the paper. Pastel papers offer various tooth roughness and this also has a lot to do with the final look of a pastel painting. Canson's paper has its limits to how many layers of pastel can be applied on top of each other as this paper has very little 'tooth' on the smooth side of black Canson Colorline pastel paper.

Starting from the center of the pastel, I continue to work out to the edges.

Starting from the center of the pastel, I continue to work out to the edges.
Still lots more to go from here!

LOVE IT...The black Canson paper makes the colors vibrant and GLOW like neon and night city lights. I am enjoying every step of this painting! Not sure where it will end up and that is also exciting for me. I just keep building outwards to the edges and will go back over it till I think it's DONE.

I totally enjoyed the WHOLE stage of creating this pastel and will look forward to it framed properly and UP ON MY WALL! This painting I think is going to be staying in my personal collection...keep it bright till next time, Minaz

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