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Sunday 5th February: image updates.



St Helen's, Lundy; pen and oil-pastel 8x8 inches

I have a liking for technical fine-line pens. In my drawing-box I have several sizes of Sakura Micron pens; I choose these because they offer two very fine nibs, coded 005 and 003. The slender lines possible with these are excellent for small drawings and details.

It is some while since I spent time on line-drawing but several ideas that I have currently for pastel work will require a reasonably decent drawn-out I need to get on with it and practise. Today's image isn't aimed at being painted, but it might form an idea in the future. The drawing was started lightly in pencil on cream-tinted Ingres paper, before inking over using black technical pens.

Ingres paper isn't ideal for heavy application of soft pastel---it just dusts off---so I used white and blue oil-pastels instead, for the sky area. About ten years ago I had quite a lot of oil-pastels, but never managed to really find a technique for myself, so I eventually sold them off. However; I'm now feeling a lot more confident about my ability to experiment and explore media, so I've bought myself a group of 30 oil-pastels and plan to start again with them.

Finally; I've made a new drawings page with a few small examples; it is not as yet linked up properly with the main website, however. I'll add to it as and when something new has been completed.


Sunday 22nd January: image updates.



The Boathouse, Llanover, Wales; pastel 14 x 10 inches (35x25cm)

This is an old house with a "docking station" once used for a boat.

I'm not doing a lot at the moment. A few pen and ink drawings; a prototype webpage with small drawings on; a pencil sketch of a small church, being prepared for a pastel work about the same size as today's image. It's too cold in the work room to concentrate much, even with the heater on. The simple line drawing work can be done in a warmr room, though. Maybe one or two more by next post.


Saturday 7th January: image updates.



We And Our Shadows; pastel 6x6 inches (15x15cm)

At the end of last year I had a few pictures in progress. One project started off as a small oil painting of fruit, leading to a pastel of the same grouping.Working with fruit, like flowers, can be tricky when the said objects decide to wilt or go soft. My pear and apple were both looking decidedly wrinkled after a ten-day pose perched on a couple of flat canvas-boards. I took a few photos of them before they reached this state.

The main picture today is just six by six inches (15 x 15cm) and came about as the result of a "technical breakdown" of its predecessor (picture 2 below). Painting 2 successfully created the apple and pear, plus base...and then things went astray. The smaller pastel took its cue from what I learned in the first effort; apple and pear were created within an hour, leaving me to decide the colours for the background which was originally a dull brown. The use of a dark blue-ish purple and dark magenta, intermixed as fairly wide strokes, seemed to solve the problem.

Painting 2 broke down as I put, to begin with, a much lighter background in order to display the shadows. I didn't like the result and proceeded to brush it off; having filled the tooth of the paper I painted clear gesso on top, to provide new tooth. This normally dries quite quickly but for some reason remained tacky in places. Being reluctant to scrap the work altogether, I wiped the gesso away, left it all to dry, then applied oil paint with a palette-knife. Now, the pastel-paper was Colorfix and does have some ability to take oils on its surface...but I am unsure about whether it is technically sound. In any case, having somewhat ruined the piece, I had elected to turn experimental with just pushed on to see what would happen. Sometimes you have to accept a loss, and then play around with it.


We And Our Shadows II ; pastel with oils 8x8 inches (20x20 cm)

The third image....there isn't one....yet... is an oil painting of the same fruit, done on an mdf panel. I have wished for some time to make myself get more paint into the image construction, by way of using either liquin impasto or cold wax; I have to overcome my tendencies to be a skinflint when quantities of paint are involved. Liquin plus paint dries quite quickly; cold wax does not, and can be worked for a long time, it also gives a matt finish to the painted surface. Which to choose? I haven't decided yet.....this one will be a while before completion.


Saturday 31st December: newspage updates.


Start of 2023 newspage. Last post from 2022 is below. Minor changes on the website: pricelist has been discontinued, due to reduction in the number of paintings shown. 2021 newsletter now replaced by the 2022 equivalent. Next update here around the end of first week in January.


Saturday 17th December: picture updates.



Bridge 85, Mon and Brec Canal, Wales 14 x 10 inches

What to do for what is probably my last post of 2022? Taped to their respective boards are two completed pastel pictures, both depicting a scene along the Monmouth and Brecon canal. Recently finished also is a small sketch of a green pear on more traditional Canson paper. Across the room is an oil-board, in the early stages of a small fruit still-life. Alongside it is the outline sketch, in white pastel on paper. Finally, sat inside a pochade box is a little 4x3 inch oil-painting which may, or may not, make it successfully to completion. I do not have just the one work ongoing, at any time; there is always at least one other.

There is little doubt that a dry medium has many advantages. No water, oils or turps to tip up all over you. Everything contained safely in a box or two. This applies whether you're indoors or out. The main disadvantage is in having to have a sizeable number of pastels to hand, AND be able to carry them around. I have occasionally taken with me a "reduced box" of colours, only to find that actually the ones I really needed for the scene that day had been left at home. In recent years I have made a lot more use of my camera as a sketch-tool, as well as doing pencil drawings. When I say camera, I mean a proper one, not a smartphone snapper. The resulting photos remind me of the day and place and various details, but at the same time I find it important to make mental notes of light quality, inner sensations, state of the mind etc that related directly to that place and the reason I was there. These latter elements are things that a camera cannot record, but are essential to try and lift the resulting painting up from being merely a depiction of the place, and make it into something more special.

In today's picture, the canal was quiet, flowing silently below autumn-coloured trees; not filled with sunlight but rather dimmed due to the density of the trees. I was on a twelve-mile walk, no time to stop and paint. After taking photos, a period of time was spent mentally absorbing the feel of the area, like a sponge.

Back home, some days later, the picture was started with hard pastel-pencils and conte carre hard colour sticks. There is virtually no soft pastel in this one at all, which will explain why it looks more muted than my usual offerings. The dark shady areas were laid in first using many hundreds of cross-hatched lines, of dark blue, purple, deep red....mainly the deep dark colours. The bridge was placed with a white pencil early on, to get the picture balanced and allow all the other areas to be laid down. Paler greens and ochres were added in more sunny areas to assist with contrast and then develop the darker regions where required. Towards the end the sunlit edges of the bridge were added; fixative used on the really dark regions to permit further colour overlay. The end result is intended to be one of contrasts; quiet shaded tree-dense banks set alongside sunlit edges and patches. Hard pastels have a tendency to dull down somewhat when fixative is applied; the use of some soft pastel on top helps to revitalise colour where needed. I may yet add some to the right, where shadows were very dark but the leaves clearly visible as tan-gold colour.

That's it for 2022. With many thanks to all who have made purchases this year, I hope you are still happy with them. The new write-up for 2023 will start around...well, probably end of first week in January. Delivery of any purchases will be via other couriers, I won't be using Royal Mail until their backlogs have been cleared. So happy Christmas to all, have a good New Year and will see you in '23.


For 2022 news, follow this link

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