Saturday, July 20, 2019


Rembrandt pastels are semi-hard, so I got into the habit of pressing feilry hard when painting with them.  However... now I'm doing that, I keep accidentally crumbling my Unisons!  Nooooooo!

So to practice a lighter touch, I painted a simple landscape.

It's on White Pastelmat, dyed a bright orange with Doctor Martins  Radiant inks.  for the underpainting I used Nupastel.  And the painting was finished with Rembrandt and Unison pastels.

The underpainting is much livelier than the actual painting.  I need to remedy that in future works.

The finished painting is good enough for my purposes, but it's not really  the style I like to paint in.  But, the sky is one of my better ones.  I generally suck at skies, so try to ppiant landscapes with a high horizon line.


Friday, July 19, 2019

Not-so-daily sketch: Light hits the Gloom

After much of the procrastination, I had to get back to my actual paying work, but this weekend I'm packing up the sewing for some art.

Hopefully I'll produce something. Even if it is just mark making and filling pages.

A photo of the woods was the jumping off point for this, but it's not actually copied. So it's my own work, which I'm still trying to evolve a bit.    Reasonably happy with it.

The ground is purple acrylic ink mixed with Golden's Pumice gel.  A nice textured ground, but I'm finding I like the sanded papers and Pastelmat better.  Pastels used:  Rembrandt and Unison.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Soft pastel storage

So okay, it's easy enough to store artists pastels. They come in beautiful boxes which to me, are more like treasure chests than any jewellery box.   A lot of us artsy types do love our art materials. Pastelists become quite addicted to buying new pastels.

The trick is not just to store them, but to store them in a usable way.  for example, I've treated myself to a load of Unison and Rembrandt pastels in the past, and while I adore the boxes, I needed to consolidate them into a format that would be more usable in my limited workspace.

Artists pastel drawers and boxes as SOP expensive. I was looking at some small pastel drawer units which seem to start at £50, and while I'm at the happy stage of life where I can afford a few indulgences, I'm too tight to splash out all that money.

The drawers I found, though deeper than actual pastel boxes, were only £16 each. Bargain!

I bought two sets, and proceeded to tart them up a bit.

First, I cut some dividers out of modellers greyboard, about 3mm thick, and with the aid of a good carpenters glue, made some compartments.

Then I lined them with some thin dark grey foam.

It took some work, but I love me a project.  And now I have these drawers, with my pastels sorted into colour families, all in order from light to dark.

They look so yummy, and as luck would have it, the colour combinations in each drawer are some of my favourites. I do like an analogous colour scheme.

Here are the chromas:

The earths are also sorted into yellow earths, red earths, green earths. And near the bottom are the fluorescents.   I splashed out on some Diane Townsend Flourescents with the money I saved by making my own pastel storage.  Nommy.

At the very bottom are the  Nupastels.  Equally nommy.

The units sit nicely in what I call my armchair workstation, when I want the art desk to be clear of clutter.

It's so worth shopping around for ideas for art storage.  If you can't find wood drawers, there are some lovely shallow plastic rainbow drawers online too.

Kind of can't wait to start work now.  After Wimbledon is over.  Go Novak!  :)


Saturday, June 29, 2019

Almost daily sketch.

Not quite managing to keep up one a day, but I'm still trying to do more frequent drawing/painting, whatever you call pastel work.

This is rough and sloppy, and as always with my stuff looks better viewed from across the room. But it has energy.


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Daily Sketches

I should probably stop using  RLY GASPENSIVE  Pastelmat for these quick sketches.  Only now I've tried it, I hate using anything else.

Le sigh.

I really like making these images, laying down blocks of broken colour. I use the pastels fairly heavily and densely.  It brings me joy.   I'm having trouble pulling colours and shapes together in a cohesive whole though.   I've tried - not making exact copies - but using other people's art as guide, and they work better when I do that.

But to grow as an artist, I really feel I need to be able to make something more cohesive that is not derived from other artists work.


Saturday, June 22, 2019

Sketch-A-Day: Four days worth.

Like impressionist paintings, I feel my images are best viewed from across a room. The lights and darks come together better that way.  Close up, it's quite messy!

This one is on velour paper.  I'm not sure if I like working on it, but will persevere. I didn't have half the problems lots of people report, using this.   My colours didn't fall off the paper at all. They ingrain very nicely.  And I've seen reviews that say Rembrandt pastels scratch the surface.  Mine don't.

However, the whole thing is in soft focus.  It's hard to get nice sharp edges that crate tension and movement. Lovely for soft romantic landscapes, but not so great for edgy mark making.  this looks a bit chocolate-box-y.

And yesterday I didn't sketch.  I was very low, so took a day off everything.  To make up for it, I did two today.  I've bought some fabulous Diane Townsend fluorescent colours, at great expense!  Seeing as you can't get them here in the UK. I ordered some from America.  #omgexpensiveshipping.

They really stand out, but the camera doesn't pick them up at all well. 

I has a sad.


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Sketch-A -Day: Forest path

Today's sketch.

I say sketch, but these take me about an hour and a half to do.   Maybe they're actually complete little paintings in themselves.

Soft pastel again, and yes, Pastelmat. 


Monday, June 17, 2019

Sketch-a-day: Soft pastel.

Inspired by a painting by Mark Gould, one of my favourite artists.

For this one, I just really enjoyed making marks, and little staccato dots on the paper.  I officially still adore Clairefontaine Pastelmat.  :)

The dark outer edges could do with better work, so maybe tomorrow's sketch will be an attempt at that.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Today's sketch

Took one of the oil pastel sketches and tried it in soft pastels.

Materials:  Pastelmat, Talens Rembrandt soft pastels, Caran D'ache pastel pencils. (Okay, yes I'm still too scared to use my lovely Unisons, so fight me.)


It's smooth to the tough, and one can be forgiven for thinking it won't take the slightest amount of  pastel.  But I layered and layered and layered this.    It's the perfect pastel paper, and I plan to use it a lot.

Having no hard pastels (yet) I thought I'd try the underpainting with the pastel pencils.  Whilst I achieved a lovely sensitive drawing of the trees, the vibrancy wasn't there, compared to the oil pastels I've been using.  Well duh.  I don't know what I expected, but they are very faint compared to stick pastels in general.

Giving that up as boring, I hacked into it with the Rembrandt pastels.  And the intensity just really pooped out at me.

Soooo intense.

Whilst this is not as spontaneous as the oil pastel drawing (shown here small)....

(Oil pastel version:
I think the quality of the medium kept me more spontaneous, and I just wanted to cover the paper with colour.  There are less  colours in my oil pastel set, which is both good and bad. Good because with the massive selection of colours I have with the soft pastels, I'm spoilt for choice, and the temptation to throw too many colours at the work is almost overwhelming.    Bad because there are not many light shades with the oils, and it's annoying.)

..... I managed to layer a  LOT more, and the fine details were actually achievable.

(Soft pastel version:
Lacks a little of the lovely scribbly stuff, but the colours are more intense, and I thin I achieved both movement and a sense of distance. The foreground pops more, because the layering is so much better.)

It's too easy to be precious with the soft pastels, but that's down to using them a whole lot more.  Which I shall do this week.  


Saturday, June 15, 2019

A Sketch A Day.

Jesse's diets Tessie's art.

This week, I have been mostly using oil pastels.

Attempting to make at least one sketch per day just to keep some kind of practice going, and in this case, trying to deal with a really tricksy medium.    these are Sennelier oil pastels, really buttery, and I know it's become a cliche, but it's like painting with lipstick.  Seductive, fun and just scrummy.

Oil pastels are hard to layer, and near impossible (for me) to make fine detail.  This is good, because it encourages me to loosen up and not to care too much about the result.  the fun is in the journey anyway. Right?

Some of these are sketches from other people's art, which I know is a no-no, but just for my own purposes, and for some idea of composition. Others are from photos, and my head.

Materials - Sennelier oil pastels, and Sennelier oil pastel pad.

These are such fun to smoosh onto the paper, and smoosh about with fingers, other colours, and palette knives.

Tuesday: Messy, with no reference material used. Had fun with the feel of these new things.  Found out that palette knives are fun with oil pastels.

Wednesday: This is my personal favourite of the week.  Had great fun painting the light.  the blue background tree forms were an accident.  Learned about trying to make a foreground interesting.  That's my weak spot in landscape work.

Thursday: Attempted some trees with their foliage, and was interested in the light.  Badly drawn, but I learned more about foregrounds, and about how few pale shades are in the Sennelier set. the skies could really do with some paler blues, and I find the oil pastels so hard to mix.  I may try taking palette knife to mine, and mixing some pale shades of my own.

Friday: Wanted to attempt a sense of distance, and also have a busy, fun and impressionist foreground.  Not sure I succeeded, but again, learnt a lot about the things I was aiming for.

Saturday:  Tried a still life, but for the life of me I can't remember why!  I prefer landscapes, I think.  I like a lively still life, but again, not so easy with this medium.

For a change, I've posted some of the stages of this one.  I like the first stage best.  I always do. Just when it still has potential....

I think I picked a boring still life, and trying to make the white background interesting was a bit of a losing battle.  There are a couple of nice patches though.  Something I need to work on.

I have this incredible set of Unison soft pastels I want to try, but am still too terrified to start using them.  #OMGsoexpensive


Sunday, June 9, 2019

Studies for a potential painting

Taken on my digital camera, and faffed around with in Gimp Image Editor.


Sunday, June 2, 2019

Finished pastel drawing

Pastel is fun.  I kind of like the mess, and love making marks with these things. 

For the finished drawing I had a false start.  Initially it was spontaneous, and could have been rescued...

...but then I panicked and threw lots of pastel at it, and consequently buggered it up.

 Do-over tiems.

I switched the colour scheme from my recently posted sketches.  Blue and orange are lovely, but I feel I can't make them work that well.  My personal favourite is pinks and greens, so those colours have been used for this.

I still like the composition.  There's perhaps less movement in the finished drawing, because one gets more precious over a considered piece, than a few spontaneous sketches.  I'm still kinda pleased with it though.  Abstract is HARD. It's harder than representational work, and I still struggle with it, and my own self-confidence.

With pastel, I've discovered that I personally prefer a structured underpainting.  This was done in charcoal pencil, and acrylic paint.  The a coat of Golden pastel ground was applied over the underpainting.  Golden pastel ground is lovely to work with, but diluting it just a little is advisable. If it's neat, the coarse texture really eats up the pastels.

Another good ground for pastels is Winsor and Newton clear gesso.  It providers a gorgeous surface and tooth.  I switch between these two according to my mood.

I'm good with this, and decided to stop before I wrecked it. there's movement, and composition, and reasonable value.  Loving those yellow greens,. They really pop.

I use Talens Rembrandt pastels, but have some issues with colours. that's the thing about pastels. With paint you can mix any old shade you want.  With Pastels, there's a great selection, but sometimes, finding that tint between bright and pale is a nuisance. Some practice at mixing on the paper is clearly required.

I read that Unison don't use blacks and whites to mix their different tints, tones, and shades; which is awesome.  It helps to avoid mud. 

So I have some yummy (and OMF expensive!) Unison pastels on order.  Can't wait.


Friday, May 31, 2019

Sketches in soft pastel

This paper isn't the greatest. I'm not keen on the texture, it's hard to cover it completely.  But in general I'm okay with the sketches.

I've just been playing about with composition sketches, and made some in colour.

This one worked well enough, from a compositional point of view.  I've been trying to restrict my palette too. I usually throw every available colour at a painting or drawing, which doesn't always work out for the best.  In this case, I've been using the complementaries of blue and orange.  In the second and third sketches, I threw in a little spice colour  (thank you, Bob Burridge.)

The second one was less successful in terms of shape and movement.

The third final one is my favourite.  Working slightly larger helped, and you can click on the images to see them enlarged.  I just feel there's more interest here.


Sunday, May 26, 2019

More layers

Still plugging away at it.   I was so enamoured with my initial monochrome layers, that I felt a bit precious over the thing, and when I got to the colour, it went through that ugly stage that you're supposed to persevere with, I nearly abandoned the whole idea.

All the YouTube vids I watch, where this process is shown,  keep saying 'trust the process', so I did, and a few layers later, I'm liking it again. There's some nice things happening here and there.

It's looking very Betty Krause, one of my favourite artists, which is hardly surprising as I gobble up every video she posts.  I know I need to make it my own though.  Find my own marks and colours.


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Initial stages

I had my creative flow disrupted when we all changed bedrooms in our house, and after doing up my room to be optimal for sewing and painting, I've finally been able to sit down and make a glorious mess.

After the meticulous and uber-clean work of sewing a doll's garment, it's just so nice to be able to get in a mess and just.. play.     I have a bit of an issue with composition at the best of times, so I'm trying to keep it together with this one.

A lot of this will be covered in more layers, but I'm finding this initial monochrome drawing quite exciting.

I've used lots of media.  Charcoal, Gesso, Derwent Inktense stick, pencils, crayons, neocolor pastels, Indian ink, Posca pens, and acrylic paint to name but some.

I'll keep going with my usual mantra  of - hope I don't screw this up.