Cougar portrait in pastel

Cougar, Mountain lion, Puma, Florida Panther….. Whatever you want to call the largest of the small cat species, Puma concolor is one of North America’s most elusive and enchanting felines to roam the wilderness.

This post will focus on the step-by-step process I did while drawing the cougar mount from the Field Museum’s exhibit hall.

Cougar, Puma concolor, mount from the Field Museum.

The cougar portrait started, like all of my other portraits, with a rough sketch.  From there, I refined my sketch by measuring and scaling from the cougar mount and transferring my measurements to my paper. The ground I used for this portrait is a burgundy color from Canson’s Mi Teintes collection.  This is a textured paper with a medium size tooth which perfectly holds the pastel for that textured feeling and finish.  I used my trusty color-erase white pencil as it is one of the essentials I keep close when I work on dark colored ground.

My set-up in the Carnivore room while drawing the cougar portrait.

Drawing felids (cats and cat relatives) are a slight challenge as they have a flat skull compared with other animals.  They also possess a foreshortened and wide muzzle orsnout which is unlike canids (dogs and dog relatives) as the muzzle length and width are a distinguishing factor between some of the species within both groups.

At this time in the process, I am sometimes still deciding what media to use (not surprised).  This time I choose Prismacolor Nu-Pastels and Derwent pastel pencils.  I started with an under-painting of Nu-Pastels as I could get a larger amount of the ground covered in a shorter amount of time.  Once the basic colors for the under-painting were complete, I added the highlights and shadows in places so that I knew where I would be enhancing certain areas when I started the detail work.  As you can see above in the finished under-painting, the cougar has a flat feeling to it as I have not rendered the form much in this photo.  As I started to add the detail (more color layering, hair and texture) the cougar starts to take on a more “real” look or a more modeled look on the paper.

I added dark patches of color to create the base of the skin and fur folds, the dark shadows within the ears, and the shadow that is created under the chin on the neck.  Once that was done I started with more highlights around the cheeks, over the eyes, and on the tips of the ears.  You can see that once the low- and high-lights are done, detail can be added.  And I LOVE DETAIL!

The eyes are the entrance to the soul so this is my favorite feature to draw and paint.  I do have a tendency to add more emotion into the eyes I create then what is presently on a mount or in a photo reference.  The detail is were I get to use pastel pencils and my blade to sharpen the Nu-pastels.  I can get a better point with the pencil or by cutting or chopping away at the pastel sticks or blocks to create a point verses just using the Nu-pastels or my Sennelier soft pastels.

Folds on the skin are the first part of the fur that I started on.  I layered the dark colors with medium tons and then after a quick spray of fixative, I added the light colors and white highlights.  The textured paper takes away a little bit of dimension since you do see a little of the ground color through the layers of color but with each mammal portrait I do, I try to balance the color of the ground with the base colors in the specimens fur color.  With the cougar, you can see the the burgundy color of the paper balances out with the orange and golden yellow colors of the fur.

Once finished, I always sign and fix with spray so that the pastel does not rub off easily.

Cougar, 2016, Pastel on paper, 19″x25″. Copyright Rebe Banasiak, The Brush Hilt, Rebe Banasiak Art.

I will be doing more carnivore portraits in the future so keep your eyes on my blog pages here, Facebook and Instagram to watch the progress unfold.

Next step-by-step, Shrink-e-dink sketch magnets:  How I create shrink-e-dink magnets from my sketches.  Stay tuned.

Lewis University’s 8th Annual President’s Show

This year’s first show was yet again one of my favorite places to visit, the Lewis University’s 8th Annual President’s Show.  I have also taken part in the past three years and have loved every second I step back onto campus.  I love going back there when ever I can.  It feels like I am going back to one of my “homes” from my past.

Brown pelican, 18x24, colored pencil on matte board

Brown pelican, 18×24, colored pencil on matte board

The five years I spent at Lewis were some of the best I will remember.  Most of the art department has changed physically but the small family bonding experience is still there.

Thanks in part to my old classmate and friend Mark Swain, professor and head of the art department, and his wife Natalie, the gallery manager (who once again put up an awesome display of artwork), the place still has that family friendly feel to it.  Our old mentor and teacher, Paul Mitchell, was one of the best professors that guided me to create what I do today.

I went to the opening of the Presedent’s show this past February.  I spent some time talking to some of the students and was happy that they are getting the same wonderful education I did back almost 20 years ago.  It makes me proud to say I am an alumni from Lewis U.  What was also nice was the fact that we got to celebrate Brother James’ last year as president of the university and his last time hosting the annual show.  He hasn’t changed all these years.

Me with fellow alumni and Brother James.

Me with fellow alumni and Brother James.

I cannot wait until next year and what will be brought to the show from all the alumni and students.  If you want to check out more photos from the show, you can visit the gallery’s Facebook page here, www.facebook.com/LewisuArt.

#5dayartchallenge Day 2

I was nominated to do the #5dayartchallenge by one of my besties, Frank. So, for the next five days I will be posting three pieces of art I have done over the past 20 years here, on Instagram and on my Facebook page. Hope you all enjoy the next five days.

#5dayartchallenge Day 2

Now I will take you to my time at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I learned so much from my mentors Peggy Macnamara and Olivia Petrides.

Sight in Yellow and Violet (Wolf series), 1999, mixed media collage.

Sight in Yellow and Violet (Wolf series), 1999, mixed media collage.

Scarlet Macaw I, 2000, oil on canvas.

Scarlet Macaw I, 2000, oil on canvas.

Raccoon, 2001, graphite on paper.

Raccoon, 2001, graphite on paper.

JUST A REMINDER: All work is copyright to Rebe Banasiak and The Brush Hilt and only a written permission statement by the artist (Rebe Banasiak, that’s me) is acceptable for any and all image use from this website.  Legal action will be taken if use of any images from this website are used without the proper written consent from the artist (yet me again).

#5dayartchallenge Day 1

I was nominated to do the #5dayartchallenge by one of my besties, Frank. So, for the next five days I will be posting three pieces of art I have done over the past 20 years here, on Instagram and on my Facebook page. Hope you all enjoy the next five days.

#5dayartchallenge Day 1

So, I will take you back to my years at Lewis University.  Here are three of my favorite portraits that I did.  In my opinion, two of the best teams in sports! Yes, I am a diehard Chicago Blawkhawks and White Sox fan!  Born and bred, BABY!

Ozzie Guillen, 1992, graphite on paper.

Ozzie Guillen, 1992, graphite on paper.

Eddie the eagle Belfour, 1994, oil on canvas, 4'x6'.

Eddie the eagle Belfour, 1994, oil on canvas, 4’x6′.

Chris Chelios and Brett Hull, 1995, acrylic on illustration board.

Chris Chelios and Brett Hull, 1995, acrylic on illustration board.

JUST A REMINDER: All work is copyright to Rebe Banasiak and The Brush Hilt and only a written permission statement by the artist (Rebe Banasiak, that’s me) is acceptable for any and all image use from this website.  Legal action will be taken if use of any images from this website are used without the proper written consent from the artist (yet me again).

Lewis University’s annual art show

Lewis University hosted the opening reception for the President’s 7th Annual Art Exhibition in the The Brent and Jean Wadsworth Family Gallery on Wednesday, February 4th.  I, once again, did participate in the alumni part of the show this year.  I also was able to get out to the reception this on the 4th, unlike last year due to Chicago’s lovely and snowy weather, LOL.

IMG_20150204_185014046

Red-tailed hawk in pastel. The President’s 7th Annual Art Exhibition at Lewis University, Romeoville, IL.

Although, the gallery was not at Lewis when I was in school, it felt like it has always been there.  I think it is one of the best features of the entire art department and campus at Lewis.  This is one upgrade to the campus that everyone should see.

Northern grey wolf in pastel (top), Snowy owl in colored pencil (bottom).  Me standing with two of my pieces in the show.

Northern grey wolf in pastel (top), Snowy owl in colored pencil (bottom). Me standing with two of my pieces in the show.

As the reception took place you can see the talent that the school has.  When I was in school back in the late 90’s, the department of art majors was small (if we were lucky we had 10 art majors all year round).  Now, there are art majors not just in painting and drawing, but also computer graphics, graphic art, and sculpture.I took a peek at the old drawing and painting rooms; memories came flooding back to me.  I can see myself in my studio painting 4×4 foot paintings, drawing portraits of famous and not-so-famous people, and creating 3-D looking landscapes on programs that were beyond what any computer geek could reach at the time.  I had two shows while I was at Lewis.  Both were milestones for me during my time at school.

Painting room at Lewis.

Painting room at Lewis.

Drawing room at Lewis.

Drawing room at Lewis.

I have reminisced enough so I would like to invite everyone to go and see the show and gallery with all the work by past and present students from Lewis University.

The President’s 7th Annual Art Exhibition is a free exhibit and is open to the public and will be on display from 9:00 am-9:00 pm weekdays and 9:00 am-5:00 pm on weekends from Feb. 3-27.

For more information you can go to the Lewis University Alumni website here, http://www.alumni.lewisu.edu/Page.aspx?pid=567&cid=5&ceid=427&cerid=0&cdt=2%2f5%2f2014.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Yes…it’s that one day in June where I get to celebrate that one person in my life who has taught me all that I know in life.  My dad, my pop, yes, my father.

He taught me that everyday is a lesson in life.  You have to learn from your mistakes and overcome obstacles life throws at you. You never know what is going to come around the corner so be prepared for anything.  Now, don’t think that this paints him as a “serious” father.  On the contrary, he was the one who was able to get my sister and I to come out of our shy shells.  I can remember family parties where I would stand by myself and be so scared to be around others that dad was always there to bring me along or encourage me to start talking to others.  Little did he know, that was the beginning of this little creation who now goes out of her way to include others in conversations and activities, where ever I go.

Portrait of my dad in his Air Force uniform. Graphite on paper, 1994.

Portrait of my dad in his Air Force uniform. Graphite on paper, 1994.

He is also that fun dad.  He taught me how to throw and catch a baseball and also how to bat (from both sides, I might add). He taught me how to golf, how to drive, how to saw, hammer, and sand anything to build.  He taught me how to garden and how to use the snow blower.  He even taught me how to use a Nikon SLR camera at the age of 6.  My dad is the best.  He knows how to make you laugh and how to calm you down.  He was the one who brought me to our neighborhood ice cream parlor, Dove Candies, which has produced awesome memories.  I can remember my first White Sox game with him at Sox Park.  My first Blackhawks game at the Stadium.  And, as always, those father/daughter day trips driving around on Saturday mornings going to garage sales or out to different small towns to shop at local hobby stores.  My dad is my friend, my buddy, my confidant, but most importantly, he is MY DAD!  I love my dad with all my heart, so here is to you dad, not just today, but everyday…I raise my glass and wish you a HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

Mayslake Visual Arts Faculty Show

Lioness I, 2003, Watercolor on paper, 15"x22"

Lioness I, 2003, Watercolor on paper, 15″x22″

Wow! How this year is going by so fast. Tomorrow will be the opening reception to the second art show I will be in for the year. This second show will be held at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, IL. It also happens to be where I get to teach drawing and painting during the week. I am so lucky and blessed that I found a wonderful place to continue teaching art to my students and giving me the opportunity to show my work to the community.

If you live in the Chicagoland area, please stop by either tomorrow evening or anytime during the duration of the show and you can view in person some of the work that is highlighted in the gallery here on my blog. Information for the show is below.  I hope everyone can find the time to come by and see what the faculty at Mayslake has been up to in our studios.  🙂

Mayslake Visual Arts Faculty Show
March 4 – May 2, 2014

Opening Reception!
Wednesday, March 5, from 6-8 PM
Mayslake Peabody Estate
1717 W. 31st Street, Oak Brook, IL 60523

Featuring the work of:
Rebecca (Rebe) Banasiak
Ann Grill
Laura Lein-Svencner
Kate Pszotka
Madeline Shea