Pastel Painting

For a change I thought I’d write about what I’ve been painting and some painting books.

After dabbling with watercolours and trying out acrylics I’ve settled on pastel painting – or at least the paintings I’ve done recently have all been with pastels, using a mix of soft pastels, hard pastels and pastel pencils. Pastels are pure pigment, held together with a small amount of gum. You can use them on their own or blended together. You do get your fingers messy though!

First a couple I’ve done of our cat, Heidi.

HeidiA while ago I posted a photo of her in her little tepee – here it is again:

Heidi's new bed P1080027

I tried to paint it, but I haven’t got the tepee quite right – it just looks like a frame:

Heidi in her tepeeThere are loads of books on watercolour and oil paintings, not so many on pastels, but I have a small selection that I’ve found useful. They all begin with the basics, explaining the different types of pastels and the various techniques, composition and giving step by step demonstrations of how to build up your picture.

Pastel books

  •  The Pastel Artist’s Bible, edited by Claire Waite Brown – this is spiral bound so it’s easy to use and full of good ideas, but the illustrations are quite small. This is more of a reference book than an ‘how to paint’ book.
  • Pastel School by Hazel Harrison – another good book of reference on techniques and developing your own style.
  • Pastel Workbook: a complete course in ten lessons by Jackie Simmonds. This is what it says in the title, with lessons in landscape, water and skies, still life, winter scenes and sketching.
  • Pastel Painting Step-by-Step by Margaret Evans, Paul Hardy and Peter Coombs, a lovely book, with large illustrations from three artists demonstrating a variety of styles and techniques.
  • Painting with Pastels, edited by Peter D Johnson, another book of demonstrations by different artists, which I’ve found very useful for the descriptions of how each artist works. It highlights the fact that there is no correct way of painting.