"Passing Fancy" by Nancie King Mertz

Pastel artist Nancie King Mertz shares how she created a recent landscape with a unique composition in this painting step-by-step demonstration.

Painting Step-by-Step: “Passing Fancy”
By Nancie King Mertz (nanciekingmertz.com)

My painting “Passing Fancy” was inspired by three photos I took in NYC after my husband and I stepped onto the tram platform near the East River. I work from 4×6 photos if I’m not painting en plein air, and this design has elements from each of those three photos.

Step 1: As always, I begin with a vine charcoal “tick-mark-map” to determine layout and perspective. My map is simply quick directional lines to create the design, rather than a “drawing” — I want to get started!! Immediately I swipe in the darks with the side of a pastel stick or with the new Richeson dark squares. When out in the field or doing demos, I always use denatured alcohol to wash-in the darks with a #6 Richeson fan brush, and I consider it my full-size Notan. However, when in my studio very recently, I have been experimenting by spraying that first layer with Spectrafix to connect the darks using the fan brush, before layering mid to light values on the dried surface.

How to create a composition
Step 1

Step 2: Now that the Spectrafix is dry, I can begin layering color over the darks. I find UART #400 is such a durable paper for my methods, and I dry-mount it using archival tissue onto Gatorboard or 8-ply rag board to prevent curling or warping when the wet alcohol or Spectrafix is introduced. To avoid smearing as I work on larger pieces in my studio, my tendency is to work top-to-bottom, developing the painting in that sequence.

How to create a composition
Step 2

Step 3: Adding more definition, pigment, and “cleaning-up” as I move down the surface in Step 3

Pastel painting step by step
Step 3

Step 4: Getting closer to completion in Step 4 as I refine the bikers and develop the street signs. I continue to layer color to create better color relationships and push the values.

Pastel painting step by step
Step 4

Step 5: In this final step, I touch up the darks, add the street tiles, and breathe a sigh of relief: I’m happy with it!

"Passing Fancy" by Nancie King Mertz
“Passing Fancy” by Nancie King Mertz. The #400 UART is dry-mounted with archival tissue onto 8-ply rag board. Soft pastels used are Great Americas, Sennelier, Ludwig, Richeson soft & hard

Take a deeper look at the steps shown here at https://spark.adobe.com/page/IvLwCZataNHI8/.

Watch a preview of “Urban Pastel Painting” with Nancie King Mertz here:

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