Wokingham Art Society
Graham Cox demonstrations
Visit him at www.moodyviews.co.uk for more detail of colours, paper etc.

Pastel landscapes
2013
Pastel workshop
2014
Landscape in Pastels
2014
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Demonstration, Landscape in Pastels, 20 May 2014
Graham works from photos rather than outdoors because of the difficulty of transporting pastel pictures. He makes a pencil drawing of his scene on thin paper, editing the view to make a good composition. He uses hedges, paths and so on to lead in to a focal point.

He then traces the picture onto his pastel paper using carbon paper. He never uses pencil to draw the final picture, because pastel will not adhere to pencil. The pastel paper is Hahnemule 160gm. His pastels are Unison with Caran d'ache pencils.
For his first picture Graham stroked in a base layer of colour, large areas of white, pale pink, blue and purple, to suggest the sky. Using the heel of his hand he blended them using a circular movement. The clouds are purple with a white edge, also blended.

The hills are drawn with a pastel pencil. Large horizontal strokes of green and blue form the sea, with light blue dragged over for sparkle. Foreground details and the puddle were made with white and pastel pencil. The scene was finished with three birds

Painting 1 (photo from screen - excuse the distortion)

Painting 1 (finished version)
The sky in Graham's second picture was tackled in the same way as the first, taking the colour right over the hill area.

The hills were then worked loosely in purple with dark blue shadows. Four shades of green and grey described the fields and trees, using the lightest green on the tops of the trees.

The large tree was drawn with black conte and the four greens, leaving lots of gaps for the sky to show through. Sparkles of yellow over the green fields and darker tones at the front gave an effect of distance.
Tractor tracks and puddles as in the first picture, with white and pastel pencil finished it off. Not forgetting the birds!

Graham never uses fixative because it dulls the colours. He "pushes" the pastel into the paper using glassine paper.

Two super pictures in one evening! Thank you Graham.


Pat Johnson and Maddy Hawes.

Painting 2 (before highlights etc.)

Painting 2 (finished version)

Pastel landscapes
2013
Pastel workshop
2014
Landscape in Pastels
2014
Return to Archive
Pastel workshop, Saturday 22nd February 2014

Work in progress and on screen
Unlike most workshops which start with a tutorial, this one was tutored step by step throughout the day. Graham focused a camera on the work in progress and showed it on a large screen so that we could see the techniques in close-up. Most of us had little or no experience of working with pastels so this was invaluable.

He told us we would be working on two paintings and we were very dubious, but the end results were amazing - quite professional. We so enjoyed our day and went home fired with enthusiasm to produce more.
Thank you Graham, many thanks.

Brenda Baldwin
Boat at Rest
Autumn trees

Pastel landscapes
2013
Pastel workshop
2014
Landscape in Pastels
2014
Return to Archive
Demonstration, Pastels Landscapes, 21 May 2013
Although announcements took over 10 minutes and extra time would be needed for voting and judging the Exhibition poster competition, Graham still said he'd complete two paintings this evening.

He does not paint on location with pastels - transporting the finished work is too inconvenient.

Instead he takes lots of photos and uses them as inspiration for linear/tonal drawings on cartridge paper.

When he is satisfied with his composition he transfers onto the pastel paper using old-fashioned carbon-paper - pencil is no good because pastel will not stick to it.
He uses only 18 colours of pastel, preferring Unison soft ones (probably only a dozen for one painting). Sets of 18 pastels were on sale during the coffee break.

It is most important that the paper has good tooth. He was using the textured side of 160 gsm Hahnemühle LanaColours 160 gsm paper, this evening. This comes in a wide range of colours but he tends to use only three darkish ones.

Tonight he did a summer scene on dark grey paper preceded by an autumn scene on purple paper (before coffee) . Packs of paper were on sale during the coffee break.
Three overlapping areas of colour went roughly into each sky, using the flat sides of the sticks: two blues and a pink for the summer scene; white, yellow and purple for the autumn one. He smoothes this by rubbing the ball of his thumb in very small circles, working from the lighter to the darker areas.

If you take a bit of pastel worn to a dead-flat face and touch this very lightly over the surface across the grain of the paper you get an excellent foliage effect. The direction is important because pigment is wanted only on the peaks of the texture.

If this is too stark (as, say, for distant trees) it can be softened by gently tapping and pushing the pigment with a finger. You put very little hue, of course, in distant trees.
Tree trunks were usually started with white pastel pencil on the sunlit side and then texture was built up with darker colours, sometimes even charcoal. He used pastel pencils for the branches, too, pressing hard at first at the trunk end, pushing, rotating and reducing the pressure as he moved to the end where the point was flicked off the paper. Remember to stagger branches.

The white (for contrast with trees) and yellow middle distance was blended horizontally in the direction of the land. Some of the hedge colour was smudged down into the white to make shadow.

Graham frequently tested or prepared his pieces of pastel by rubbing them on the tape holding the top and bottom of the paper to the board.

I never thought to ask him why the board was so blatantly multicoloured.
Trees were painted from dark to light (except that branches were added quite late) and so the light green used to finish the summer foliage was wiped on the tape between every stroke, to remove any dark colour that had been picked up. He occasionally modified a colour by using it to pick up a little of another one from this tape.

I was surprized at first at how much use Graham made of charcoal and white pencils until I realised that they always picked up traces of the underlying colour. Even a small flooded area was started with white before other colours were added and pulled in from the surrounding area.

Charcoal created the lines of hedge and the smaller trees. The merest dashes of white and black created fenceposts. A little warm brown dabbed on lightly with a finger-tip provided the autumn foliage.

It is worth repeating that Graham's touch was nearly always very light - almost never enough to grind pigment into the hollows of the surface.

The finished autumn landscape
After the two-blues-and-a-pink sky of the summer landscape had been palmed smooth the same technique very quickly created some summer clouds (white, pink and purple smoothed up in small circles with a finger) and distant hills (blue-green, mid-green and dark blue with colour shaper and finger).

By the way, use a dry rag to clean your fingers, not a damp one.

Tree-tops started with the foliage, working from dark to light. Branches followed, breaking frequently for nearer foliage.
Foregrounds were warmed up and texture added - again very lightly with a totally flat piece of pastel.
The demo ended with two more useful "tricks":

For flowers in bushes and fields, for spume blowing off waves or for falling snow, try putting the paper flat on a table and letting fine scrapes of colour fall onto it. You will need to practice to be confident about height and density.

That trick, even more than Roger's light touch, means that the pastel is not all very firmly bonded to the paper. Spray is anathema to him (it kills the vibrancy of the colours). Solution? Buy a sheet of Glassine, drop it lightly onto the finished work, hold it firmly, so that it does not move, and then rub as hard as you can to force the pigment into the paper. Sheets of Glassine were on sale during coffee.
Thank you, Graham, for a really inspiring evening.

The finished summer landscape.

Pastel landscapes
2013
Pastel workshop
2014
Landscape in Pastels
2014
Return to Archive

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