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.
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.
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.
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.
Autumn in the Clydach Gorge by Jenny Keal
Although I work in watercolour, I do some painting in other mediums, one of which is pastel. I have neglected it for many years and keep promising myself to do some more, especially when I see what Jenny is producing these days. If you find watercolour difficult, or maybe you are in a rut at the moment, why not try pastels? They make a wonderful change, and you can always return to watercolour later. Many artists find pastel painting so much easier, but some don’t like the dust and mess on their fingers.
Jenny has excellent ways of managing pastel dust and the mess on your fingers, and she is only too willing to show you her methods. She has superb techniques for creating areas of tranquil water with reflections and sparkling highlights. On the right you see one of her paintings of the Clydach Gorge with reflections in deep water. Pastel, with its rich colours, is excellent for autumnal scenes, which can at times be tricky in watercolour, especially when you want to juxtapose light yellow or orange foliage against a darker background. The medium is also much more forgiving – you can alter features fairly easily compared to watercolour. Pastel is also great for fading away the more distant features, as you can see here.
One of my favourite subjects is rocks, and I’ve just seen Jenny’s latest works on rocks, and they certainly have the WOW! factor. Check out Jenny’s blog where she gives free tips, but if you’d really like to give pastels a try why not enroll for her course in Lynmouth from 20th to 23rd May, when she’ll be showing students how to paint the stunning coast and countryside of North Devon?