Wokingham Art Society
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Joel Wareing demonstration, 19 December 2017
"Light and Shade: Street scene" in pastel

Visit him at www.joelwareing.co.uk and see an acrylic demo here at FCSA
Joel had brought some examples of his work: some in oils and some pastels.
Joel gave us a little of his background. He was brought up in South Africa, which gave him a love of bright colours. Having had an artist father led him naturally into a career as an artist himself. His main artistic interest is body language, portraits coming next.

He likes sketching out of doors but since people will keep moving, most of his work is based upon photographs he has taken. For tonight's demo he had a photo of a pensive man in a mackintosh and flat cap outside a cafe, and a couple of young ladies chatting over their drinks.

He was using a sheet of medium grey tone Winsor & Newton pastel paper. It's important to use a decent quality of pastel paper (for good tooth). There are several good makes, including Canson or Sennellier but they are more expensive.
He started blocking the outlines in with a Derwent burnt sienna pastel pencil. Derwent are slightly softer but more fragile than Faber Castell's. The tone of the burnt sienna is similar to the paper but it is still visible - just what you want until you've decided exactly what goes where. He holds the pencil in his palm, to avoid marks being too sharp. Joel works very quickly, making many marks for each line, shifting things so that lines are more like fuzzy indications than draftsman's edges.

Doing it this way you gradually reach a point where the composition looks right and you have a fairly good idea of where the edges you are looking for really want to go. That's the time to take a darker colour and draw more definite lines. If you draw the largest figure first you can check the scale of the more distant ones by drawing horizonal lines in your mind to make sure they meet the first figure in the right place.

Next, some shading. Joel does this very loosely, scribbling with the edge of the pencil until he feels ready to introduce colour.
For a little while Joel scribbled in colour with the pastel pencils but very soon switched to medium-hard pastel sticks (Prismacolor NuPastel Premier). He quickly put in some large areas of startlingly strong reds and yellows. It may be unconventional to use such strong colours so early in the painting but they help establish the warm and cool areas and will, anyway, be worked over later.

Nearly all his marks are very quick SW/NE diagonal scribbles with very visible gaps beteen the strokes. Occasionally the gaps disappear. Even less often he overpaints with strokes in a different direction.

Pure whites should rarely be used. A slightly creamy white area will look quite white enough. The gaps between marks mean that such lighter colours can be scribbled over the strong ones to give the effect of blending withour the loss of vibrancy of literal blending. An even softer pastel, like Unison, is helpful here.

Once he has a pastel in his hand he will usually use it in many parts of the painting, but remembering to use the cool (blue, recessive) and warm (red) shades only in the appropriate areas.
The process is very much one of gradual evolution. Joel draws virually no outlines - pastel lends itself better than oils to trial and error. Where there is a sharp edge exaggerate it, but break it up so it is not seen as just a line.

Long before he has finished anything he's back in with touches of darker and stronger colours - for example strong green for a coat, a pinky-purple (cool) in dark areas and even some black. Touches of orange and red-brown for faces. All these are destined to be painted over with lighter colours to tone them down.

What you have worked on most becomes the centre of attention, so do not put detail into the faces - concentrate on getting the lights and darks right in the figures, at the same time getting cooler (more blue) in the distance.

Right up to the end Joel was repeatedly going over the background - it became a most interesting visual melange (look at the detail).
I noted quite a few of Joel's general observations:
Doing life drawing is an excellent way to keep your eye in
Don't stint on how many colours you buy - kits of a dozen or so pastels are too limiting
Pastel sketches are good references for a subsequent oil
Joel takes lots of summer photos (he likes bright colours) to work from in the winter
Trying to do a painting in one sitting makes is more energetic
More strong colour can always be added at the end
Lacquer dulls the painting - avoid.

So ended an unusual and most interesting demo. Joel may do a bit more work on it at home. If so, I hope he sends me a photo of it to be added below. I think we'll be asking him to do another demo or, better, a workshop for us. Thanks, Joel.

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