Recycle Upcycle Refurbish – Pastel study

I obtained some more soft pastels over Christmas, as well as a 36 colour set of Mont Marte H2O watermixable oils. I’ve been practising with both mediums this past week – doing two versions of the same scene, one using soft pastel and the other with oils, to see how well I can get a good result. One thing that’s becoming obvious is I have a far better grasp of it with soft pastels than I do with oils!

One of the comparison studies I did today, involved the use of a reworked pastel study. I took the earlier pastel practise piece and rubbed the surface pigment off as much as i could, leaving a kind of underpainted base to work on, to which I added some white …

I then completed a moody landscape from a photo I took a few years ago.

‘Evening storm over the fields’ Soft pastel on refurbished Pastelmat

I’m really pleased with how this turned out. I have done an oil version of this same scene, which is drying at the moment. I’m not happy with that at all but I’ll do some more work on it tomorrow and maybe I can get it right, then will post on here to show the difference between the two techniques – soft pastel on Pastelmat and watersoluble oils on Arches oil paper.

Sunlit Winter Trees

Available from my shop. This work is sold unframed, it has been set with a proprietary pastel fixative and is posted to you flat, protected with glassene and packed to avoid disturbance of the surface. It is signed.

Sunlit Winter Trees 44cmx30cm Soft Pastels on Pastelmat

Pastel pencils – sharpening

I splashed out a while ago and bought a wonderful set of 12 Caran D’Ache pastel pencils, which are really lovely to use, I definitely want to buy more colours eventually. However, one of the biggest problems was I just couldn’t sharpen them properly. I tried using your standard metal pencil sharpener with the big hole, as well as trying to use a sharp knife but I just ended up breaking the pencil tip or getting a lovely bulb shaped snub-nosed point! I then watched a YouTube video by Jason Morgan (him with the lovely Welsh accent) and in it, he recommended (amongst other products), the M+R crank-handled sharpener (made in Germany).

And whilst this set me back about 20 quid (including postage and packing from Uncle Amazing), it was money well-spent. It’s easy to operate, clean and also fix if anything gets jammed (like broken pencil tops). It comes with a clamp to secure on your desk or work table if you so prefer and easy to follow instructions (even for mechanica-phobes like me). It is adjustable for various sized pencils. Caran D’Ache are notably thicker than other pastel pencils and whilst their wood casings are very hard, the centre pastel is soft, which makes them very difficult to sharpen without the pastel crumbling away or breaking completely.

Here’s the Jason Morgan’s video:

Framed!

I found a local framer in Norwich who did a really great job with my large soft pastel painting of the Norway Fjord and it’s now on the wall:

I is quite chuffed

Norway, fjord – coursework – soft pastels – large!

At long last I’ve completed my fourth assignment for POP1 (Practise of Painting), I am now heading into the final stretch and the bit I’ve been most looking forward to, so whoopee doo for me hey!?

I decided to do a large (the brief was for something about 90x60cm) soft pastels landscape (that was also in the brief) and chose as my subject a scene from a trip I did to Norway a couple of years ago. This is how it ended up:

‘Norway, fjord’ soft pastels on 100cmx70cm Pastelmat

I ordered special paper from Clairefontaine in a sienna tint for this work and it’s really quite large. I have had quite a fight getting quotes to frame it that are below £200 – most of the framers I’ve spoken to want up to £300 to frame it, which is a bit much. Anyway, I’ve found someone in Norwich and hopefully going to take it there soon, it will still cost me over £100 to frame but I think will b e worth it. I will take a photo when it’s on the wall with furniture so you can get the idea of scale.

Gnarled old trees – soft pastels

I love Wales! I go there as often as I can to visit my aunts and uncle, cousins and assorted hangers on. I’m not Welsh (at least I don’t think there is any Welsh in my immediate past) but I adore the place. This little sketch was inspired by a memory I have of walking about ‘on the top’ of a steep sheep covered hill, coming across these two old trees huddled together against the wind.

‘Old Gnarled trees on a Welsh hillside’ soft pastels on Pastelmat about A4

It’s in my shop over here

Light at the end of the lane – Soft pastels

I took inspiration for this little study from an image I saw on the Internet, it’s not from my own source photos. I used Sennelier, Rembrandt and Art Discount soft pastels on Pastelmat for this one:

‘Light at the end of the lane’ Soft pastels on Pastelmat about A4

Red Kite – Soft pastels

Another small painting done today, this time I used watercolours, soft pastels and tinted charcoal pencils for this study of a Red Kite, also available from my shop:

‘Red Kite’ watercolours, soft pastels and tinted charcoal pencils on Pastelmat card +- A4

Poppies – soft pastel

I’m really loving Pastelmat card/paper. Here’s a small painting I did yesterday but forgot to upload! This is also available at my shop:

‘Poppies’ soft pastels on Pastelmat +- A4

I used various soft pastels makes for this little painting but I do find that the Sennelier brand is becoming my favourite.

New mixed media

Quite some time ago I started working on a series of paintings relating to the South African landscape, for some reason I didn’t finish that work.  I decided to go back to one of them over the weekend and this is the result, might still do a bit more tweaking (as always!).  This area holds a very special place in my heart (and psyche).  It is one of the most beautiful parts of the world, glorious in any weather.  This is a view of the ampitheatre from the river below. (My own reference photos)

Drakensberg

For this one I used acrylic inks, soft pastels, then oil pastels on mixed media paper.  Paper size is 16.5″ x 11.5″ (A3), painting takes up all surface of the paper.

 

New painting – with back story.

I’ve titled this one,  ‘On her way’ – it is inspired by the devastating mental health struggles my youngest daughter is currently experiencing after the birth of her baby almost three months ago.   These last few months have been extremely traumatic for all of us but last night, when I went to visit her with her older sister, it was like she was back to her old self again. There is still a lot more work needs to be done but it was the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel I saw last night, as she walked away from us down the corridor to her room.  She seemed to be surrounded by a golden glow and that’s what I wanted to get across in this painting.

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“On her way”

Acrylics, inks, soft pastels on Daler Rowney system 3 acid free acrylic paper.

16 1/2″ x 11 1/2″  (not for sale)

 

 

 

Sennelier Extra Soft pastels and Canson paper – first impressions.

Unboxing …

Due to the nature of the extra soft Sennelier pastels, they were very finicky and tempermental, not robust like Rembrandt or the Art Spectrum brands that I use most of the time.  HOWEVER, the colour is completely unrivalled – it is pure pigment and applied to underpaintings using other soft pastels, or on top of a wash, the colours are luminous in colour strength, the pigment also adheres to the grooves or tooth of the paper and doesn’t dust off as readily as other soft pastels.

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I had to do a lot more work with colour contrasts and layers to get the Rembrandt up to the same sparkling colour of the Sennelier apple subject above.  Sennelier only required a few dashes and swipes and there you had a perfect juicy apple.

I was rather underwhelmed by the Canson paper- I’d heard so much about it and was expecting a totally new experience.  However, I found it difficult to get the effects I wanted, so reverted back to my Daler Rowney Ingres paper – this sketch was to see how much working up I could do with the Sennelier soft pastels … I used a lot of other pastels to get to the greens I needed and realised fairly early on that I should have done a complimentary underwash of red or orange to get the greens to lift up and ‘sing’.

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Eventually I managed to salvage a half decent study of the ancient oak tree in the field next to our house :

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“The Ancient Oak at harvest”

Sennelier extra soft pastels, Rembrandt and Art Spectrum soft pastels on Daler Rowney acid free caramel coloured Ingres paper.

Painting size is approx.:  35cm x 25xm

 

Art Spectrum Soft Pastels

I am so pleased, Jackson’s Art Supplies have published the post on their dedicated blog featuring my review of Art Spectrum soft pastels.   Check it out here

If you enjoyed the article, I’d appreciate it if you would give it a ‘like’ or  ‘share’ it with your friends on Facebook or wherever else you join up with friends and family on the interwebs.

 

 

New soft pastel work

I don’t know about you but I’m getting a bit sick and tired of grey skies.  Here in South Norfolk we have the most gorgeous spring and summer colours – I’m dying to see powder blue skies,  brilliant greens, oil seed flowering in the fields and daffodils … all the happy colours that make your heart sing.   So this is a bit of a wishful whimsy …

‘Summer Field’

Art Spectrum soft pastels on Daler Rowney acide free dark brown Ingres coloured paper. Actual size of painting is about 30cm x 20cm

The paper size is  16″ x 12″ or 406mm x 305mm

Photo number two – to show stroke texture and third photo to show background colour of paper.

New soft pastel work

“Trees Impression”

16″ x 12″ or 406mm x 305mm

Soft pastels and inks on Daler Rowney acid free Ingres coloured paper; 98lb or 160g/m2

 

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New soft pastels

‘Trees and grasses’

16″ x 12″ or 406mm x 305mm

Soft pastels (Rembrandt, Reeves, Faber-Castell) on Daler Rowney acid free Ingres coloured paper; 98lb or 160g/m2

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‘Seascape and sunglow’

16″ x 12″ or 406mm x 305mm

Liquid acrylic Inks ; Soft pastels (Rembrandt, Reeves, Faber-Castell) on Daler Rowney acid free Ingres coloured paper; 98lb or 160g/m2

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New mixed media abstract work

Reef

“Reef”

14″ x 10″ (A3) unframed 297mm x 420mm

Liquid acrylics (inks), Rembrandt soft pastels, Pebeo gold effect foil on 140lb acrylic paper (Daler Rowney system 3)

New soft pastel work

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“Woodland Light”

14 ¼” x 10 ¼”  Soft pastels on paper

 

Footnote:    I got hold of this with the Galeria gloss medium – the idea was to see if this medium would be compatible and protect the pastels better than a fixative spray.   What seems to have happened is the tones have darkened – the painting is still interesting, I think and perhaps more atmospheric.  I have matted and mounted it behind cellophane – photo just to show difference in tonality.

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Small soft pastel paintings

A few more soft pastel paintings … I’m now using Rembrandt materials, although some of these were done with the other pastels I already had.

Pastel Poppies    This is sold

Flaming sky Gold over the sea

These are each about 11″ x 10″

Grounds … and difference each one makes to finished pastel paintings.

Yep, changed the theme is … not sure if people like this design, please let me know if you think it’s irritating and I’ll revert back to the old theme!

I did a painting with these chalky soft pastels that I received over Christmas of a Norfolk windmill with storm clouds looming in the background – I thought the dark sky would make for an interesting contrast with the colours of the buildings, bathed in sunlight.   However, I just could not get the intensity of the background right – I was using a watercolour paper and even though this was a very expensive ground, it was completely incorrect for this style of picture.

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Then today I did another painting (larger than the windmill one) of a landscape on precoloured (sand/khaki) roughly textured very cheap paper and the results were noticeably different.  I’m pleased with the way this one turned out, as the reference photo I used was from a very old book I have Scottish landscapes that are now mostly gone to urbanisation and the photo was ‘green’ and very dull.  This one is 14″ x 10″ …

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I should get my new materials, paper etc. next week and am really looking forward to trying it all out.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Footnote:

Due to the fact that the windmill pastel painting was done on watercolour paper, I discovered that by using water, I was able to get a much darker effect with the background.

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I adjusted the other painting (now framed, ‘scuse crap photo) , took out the boats in the right hand mid section of the loch and change the sky (It was very naive in the first attempt).

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