Jenny Keal – Pastel Workshop in Marlborough

Sometimes it is a good idea to take a completely different approach to a painting. I normally start by painting the sky, background hills and trees and then painting the focal point, finishing with the foreground. There are practical reasons for this, as it is easy to smudge a focal point that you are pleased with when painting the area above it.
Farm Above Dinas Cross JK
However, in the case of the painting illustrated here, a cottage in the Preseli hills, Pembrokshire, I began with the focal point, then painted the sky and trees ending with the foreground.  The surface I am using is Fisher 400 art paper which has been tinted with a purple ink wash. This gave me a dark background and allowed me to leave some of the surface unpainted giving a unity to the work.

By adopting this order of working I found myself working in a much looser way, for example adding the light between the branches of the trees instead of the other way around, and painting the trees around the buildings rather than painting the building over the trees.

So experiment with your approach to a painting and see what happens.

I will be running a Pastel Workshop in the White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough on 4th August, 2016. If you are interested in enrolling please contact Edwina Pearce on 01672 512071.at the White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough.

Jenny Keal – Painting old buildings

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Cottage at Lynmouth, (Photo)

I know David has already blogged about this gorgeous old cottage in Lynmouth that we both sketched on our recent course for Alpha Painting Holidays but I cannot resist also featuring it in this, my first blog for some time. Circumstances have prevented me finding time to blog lately but it is time to rectify that.

 

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Lynmouth (watercolour sketch)

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Cottage at Lynmouth, Pastel by Jenny Keal

Those of you who know me are aware that old buildings in the landscape are my favourite subject and our recent trip to Exmoor gave me the perfect opportunity to seek out some of the best examples in the UK. This old cottage, perched high on the hill above Lynmouth harbour, seemed to almost grow out of the hillside giving it a timeless feeling.

The watercolour sketch I did included a number of the other cottages which descended the hill towards the harbour but for the final painting, which was done as a demonstration for the painting course, I decided to leave out the majority of the buildings and to focus on the one that interested me the most.  The direction of the light in the photograph was confused by shadows cast by the trees so I decided to simplify things. The background and foreground were suggested with colour rather than detail.

I will be demonstrating a building in the landscape in pastel at the Sandpiper Studio on the Wirral on Friday 20th June, 2pm – 4.30pm, (scroll half way down the page for this event details)  tickets are still available at £13 per head including refreshments from Julie McLean, booking details are here.

Morocco art competition – Final stage

My entry for the Cox & Kings competition is finished.The final stage of any painting is a dangerous time. The temptation to put in every detail is great but it must be resisted. In the photograph which I posted on 28th October, (you can see this if you scroll back through my blog) there were a lot of trees and bushes so these have to be simplified. Also the hillsides were dotted with scrubby bushes but to include all of those would be spotty and distracting.

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There was no obvious pathway leading the eye into the painting so I created one that led towards my focal point, the building. I had moved the building closer to the wadi so that it fell in a more pleasing location, directly below the main peak of the mountain and within the Golden Section. The strongest tonal contrast is on the building and I have added a figure, a Berber woman in bright clothing which I had found in my 1993 Morocco sketchbook.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this exercise and I want to thank Katie Parsons of Cox and Kings for inviting me to take part. It was the incentive I needed to get painting again after a long absence.  I wish my fellow competitors good luck.

Stage 2 & 3 of my competition entry

Yesterday I made more progress on my painting for the Cox & Kings Morocco competition: Stage 2 – Sky: When painting landscapes, I generally work from the top of a painting downwards. This serves two purposes. Firstly it helps prevent the heel of your hand smudging the work where it rests on the support and secondly it helps create a sense of recession. If you think of the landscape in terms of distance, the objects farthest away are usually lighter in tone, cooler in colour and less distinct. Translating this into the painting process means that you use paler, cooler colours in the distance and less detail. By working down the support you can remember that meme in your choice of colour and tone.

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Stage 2 – Sky

Stage 3 – The mountains: The sky was painted down over the drawn lines that defined the mountain tops. This is to ensure that there are no gaps between the sky and mountains and also to give the impression that the sky is, in effect, behind the mountains. Sticking to cooler colours and pale tones, the mountains are painted with sharp edges in places and softer edges in others so that there is not a hard line all the way across the painting. Soft edged cloud shadows helps define the ridges.

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Stage 3 – the mountains

The next step will be coming soon.

The Secret of Speckles

I’ve been asked many times how I get the fine speckles of colour in my paintings so I am going to let you into the secret. I lay the painting flat on a table and using the edge of a palette knife I scrape flakes of pastel on the surface where I want to create the effect of small leaves, seed heads in a field or sea spray on rocks etc. I than press the flakes into the painting with the flat of the palette knife. If there are some stray flakes which you do not want, you simply don’t press them in and they will either fall off when you place the painting in a vertical position or you can blow them away.

Scraping

Step 2. Press the flakes into the surface of the painting with the flat of the palette knife where you want them to stick. Blow away any unwanted flecks.

Pressing in Speckles

Step 1. Lay the painting horizontal on a table and using the edge of a palette knife, scrape flakes of pastel from a pastel stick on to the surface of the painting where you want to create fine specks of colour.

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This technique is most effective if you use contrasting tones and colour.

It is almost impossible to achieve these fine marks with a dotting technique and the random effect is particularly pleasing.  However, I will issue one word of warning. This technique is addictive and it is easy to get carried away using it all over the place and then the effect is spoiled.This technique is described in my book Painting with Pastels and demonstrated on my DVD of the same name. Or you can buy both at a Special Offer Price of £20.