Working on a dark paper allows me to easily judge mid-tone values and true colours. I use the pastels in a variety of ways —
scribbling, crosshatching, scumbling and feathering. Variety adds interest and energy to the paper surface.
Going to extremes
Working on a dark-toned, sanded pastel paper, I loosely
sketched in the main shapes with vine charcoal. I filled in
the darkest areas with the charcoal and the lightest areas
with a white conté crayon. Before moving on, I knocked
off the excess charcoal dust and sprayed the work with a
light coat of fixative.
Starting at the top
I began with the cloud formation. Using the sides of my
pastel sticks, I lightly applied broad strokes of burnt
sienna, ochre light and grey for the clouds and horizon,
then gradated into greenish and prussian blue and cobalt
blue, finally working into the warm horizon using
ultramarine pale. I was careful not to overload the
paper so I could make adjustments later. I then added
a few of the same colours to the field.
Moving to middle ground
Next, I developed the cooler shadows within the focal point
of trees using blue indigo tone, ultramarine and cold green
deep in the foreground grasses. I added more light ochre,
moss green and bohemian green for variations, with burnt
light ochre and ochre light for the highlights.
Unifying with colour
To finish the middle ground field, I filled in with cobalt
blue, then highlighted with moss green. I repeated
these same colours, as well as a variety of reds,
oranges and greens, in the stand of trees. For the
foreground grasses, I used cobalt blue, moss green,
pinks and ochres. Finally, it was time to blend and
push back the sky by lightly tapping it with my fingertip,
then layering on more pastel to keep the
‘bloom' or freshness of the colour.
Finishing with flair
Still working top to bottom, I continue to blend and
soften the colours through the middle ground and
Finished — "Moment in Time" (14 x 30" or 35.5 x 76 cm)
I also added bright highlights to the fenceposts, and
finished with some lively strokes of colour in the