Suzi Zeft­ing-kuhn

New York, USA, I Have My Eye On You, pas­tel, 33 x 26" (84 x 66 cm)

International Artist - - Art Challenge -

My In­spi­ra­tion

I have been work­ing on a se­ries of an­i­mal por­traits in pas­tel for the past five years and never visit a zoo with­out my cam­era in hand. The more I study an­i­mals I re­al­ize they each have a soul as we do. They can be quite ex­pres­sive as well. Dur­ing a visit to the Cheyenne Zoo in Den­ver, Colorado, with my best friend of al­most 50 years, this par­tic­u­lar gi­raffe caught my eye. The gi­raffe was in soli­tary and the jux­ta­po­si­tion of the wall be­hind him/her and the rec­tan­gu­lar shapes of the brick against the geo­met­ric shapes on the skin of the gi­raffe re­ally cap­tured my imag­i­na­tion. I in­stantly knew this would be a paint­ing when I ar­rived home.

My De­sign Strat­egy

The rec­tan­gu­lar bricks be­hind the gi­raffe and the geo­met­ric shapes on the an­i­mal cre­ated the de­sign for me. I had taken nu­mer­ous photo ref­er­ences with dif­fer­ent po­si­tions of the gi­raffe’s head. I chose the pro­file ref­er­ence photo, as it seemed to con­trib­ute to the strong de­sign of the paint­ing.

My Work­ing Process

I work on Uart sanded pa­per (400 grit) when us­ing pas­tels to paint an­i­mals be­cause it can ac­com­mo­date a num­ber of lay­ers of pas­tel. I like the tex­tu­ral ef­fect you can get with the medium. I find hav­ing the images on my ipad to be very use­ful dur­ing the paint­ing process es­pe­cially if I need to en­large a spe­cific area for a bet­ter look. I draw my sub­jects free­hand. I be­gin by us­ing pan pas­tel and the pointed ap­pli­ca­tor tool. I find this keeps me looser in the be­gin­ning. I get the gen­eral shapes down and then switch to a Caran d’ache pas­tel pen­cil to draw the de­tails. When I am sat­is­fied with the draw­ing, I be­gin paint­ing the darks with my Rich­e­son hard pas­tels and harder of my soft pas­tels (Gi­rault). I grad­u­ally move to the lighter ar­eas still us­ing the Gi­raults. Once the sur­face is cov­ered I move to softer pas­tels (Terry Lud­wigs) and con­tinue to work up the lay­ers. I re­vert back to the Caran d’ache pas­tel pen­cils to get into the fine de­tail work in the eye and mouth area. I tap the com­pleted pas­tel over a large trash­can to re­lease any loose pas­tel. I do not use spray fix­a­tive.

Con­tact De­tails

» Email: suzi@suz­izeft­ » Web­site: www.suz­izeft­

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