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Exuberant Colour Pastel Workshop

Updated: Feb 9, 2020

Today I gave my first workshop for the Usk Community Hub, 9:30 - 12:30 in the adult education room at the library. In total I had 15 students, most arrived early and many stayed behind to chat at the end. I'm really touched that many of the students asked if I would be presenting any more workshops in the coming year. No plans to do that so far as the weekends at the Hub are pretty much fully booked.

The workshop was about being expressive and exuberant with colour. Pastels are sticks of pure colour, they vary in degrees from soft to hard. A good range of hard pastels are useful for drawing finer lines while soft pastels are used to cover larger areas and give you a really good bunch of colour. As usual I insisted that the students worked from life instead of photos so we focused on colourful flowers as our subject matter. I'm a strong believer in observational drawing rather than letting the camera make all the decisions for us. Having said that, because of the nature of pastels, its very hard to do any fine detail with them so I encouraged my students to aspire to an approximation of a flower and not get bogged down in trying to create a botanical detailed illustration.

As part of the workshop I created a small sample painting of a wild poppy.

In this sample, using lots of water I washed some of my favourite colours onto the paper, cadmium red, yellow and some crimson. Once the paper was completely dry I drew the poppy freehand in a very loose style using pastels only. I then started to use my selected range of pastels to build up layers of colour, pattern and shape, all the time allowing the watercolour edges to show and basing my 'petal shapes' on the random pattern of the paint.

The final touches were the very darkest colours to fill in the centre of the flower and some veins on the most prominent petals.

Its all very loose and expressive but still being responsive to the subject and hopefully showing off the best aspects of both watercolour and pastel media. Hope you like it.

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