Wokingham Art Society
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Demonstration by Derek Oliver,
"Landscape in Pastels", 17 May 2011
Visit him at www.derek-oliver.com or email oliver.paintedhand@googlemail.com
"I always have to have something to paint from", said Derek. This time it was one of his own Lake District watercolour paintings, right.

He had brought a variety of different types of pastel:

soft buttery Unison
harder, square Inscribe and
some Derwent pastel pencils

but not in too many colours, because he wanted everything to look bright, not muddy.

Derek had already completed an outline pencil drawing on a piece of buff-coloured Windsor & Newton pastel paper, below.

Watercolour source
It soon became clear that one of the ways he managed to work with so few colours was that they were almost all very intense tones which he then adjusted with white and black.

For example, he started with a dark cerulean over the top half of the sky but then immediately put white over it and began to blend vigorously with his finger, bringing it down toward the horizon ("Very good for any criminal side of my life - I've no finger-prints left!").

This is characteristic of his approach: lightly to "glaze" a new colour over an existing surface and then to both blend and extend it with his finger (or, for more precision, with a rubber or rolled-paper colour shaper).
Purple went over the top corner and then a remarkable amount of black right across the top - the finger working overtime.

In the same way he brought the sky down carefully to the top edge of the hills (with white and a touch of Naples Yellow to strengthen the buff of the paper) and also back up over the black. This repeated blending of other colours into it brought the black to life.

Strips of black and white (and a paler blue for cloud highlights), repeatedly blended, gradually built up the cloud detail. A touch of "Saturday night pink" added subtlety to the sky over the distant peak.
After lightly brushing off loose excess pastel, some pure purple went right along the top edge of the mountains and was immediately toned back with white and raw umber.

Derek had said he always worked top-to-bottom so I thought the sky was finished when he started into the hills. But to get contrast on the skyline he drew thin lines of black or pale blue along their top and blended up into the sky as well as down.

When he was reasonably happy with the mountains he started the middle distance with a very dark green (he called it sap green). Following his previous routine Derek then went over the edges of this with a lighter green and blended it down.
In a way that was reminiscent of his sky, he built up the texture with light and dark strokes following the curve of the land, some "earth colour" and trees (and can you see the sheep?) blending across, up and down.

The blending finger was still working overtime but for the much greater precision needed around the buildings he used the rubber colour shaper.

Both Inscribe pastels and pastel pencils were needed for finer detail. Charcoal pencil was blended out into the green trees behind the house and white pastel pencil sharpened up the edges. Raw and Burnt Sienna went into the tree on the left.
For the slate roofs he put his purple at the top (blending down with white), raw umber and white at the bottom (blending up) and touches of green and Yellow Ochre. The same colours were used for the walls.

He used pencils to gave a bit more texture to the roofs, define their crooked edges and make the windows and doors.

The foreground was much looser: yellow underpainting followed by pale green, darks dabbed and blended in, Burnt Umber for fence posts and for the bushes on the right, with criss-crosses of Burnt Sienna over them, sharp broken Inscribe edges for the green grasses, all pulled together by lighly touching the same colours, including the purple, into the middle distance.
To round off what had been an inspiring evening, and with 30 seconds to spare before 9:30,
Derek signed the work and gave it to the Society to be used as a raffle prize or what have you.
From my point of view I was pleased to be made to feel much less guilty
for blending my pastels so much, against the advice of some pastel demonstrators.

Thank you very much, Derek.

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