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How To Draw Using Pastels
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Pastel workshops last Saturday of every month in Devon 10 - 4pm
On a recent trip to the beach I found a scallop shell half buried in the sand. something about the simplicity of the image made me want to draw it, so I took a quick snapshot for reference later.
How To Draw Using Pastels
The only problem, was how to draw the sand, in particular how to obtain the grainy effect. After a bit of mulling I decided on using artists' pastels. I particularly enjoy using pastels, as they have a slightly uncontrollable nature, in that it's difficult to draw sharp, straight lines due to their softness, so sharp edges have to be suggested rather than drawn.
They are also incredibly messy.
Rather than usuing the more straightforward technique of drawing with the pastels, I decided to work by shaving flakes of pastel with a craft knife, on to the paper, thus creating pastel 'dust,' which I hoped would give the texture of grains of sand when the piece was finished. You can judge for yourself whether or not this has been successful.
Artist's Pastels. Sand and Shell - first two layers
When using artist's pastels I find it easier to begin with the darkest colours and areas of deep shadow, before adding more colour and the body of the drawing, and then finishing with highlights.
In this picture there were no deep shadows as such, because I was looking directly down at the shell, so I began by covering the white page with pastel shavings, firstly of black, then dark brown, Indian red then grey/brown.
I used a rolling pin from the kitchen (notice to family - I will wash it, I promise) to press the colour into the paper, then continued with a layer of ochre shavings, pressing these in the same way.
From then on I let rip with all the colours I fancied, although I stuck to earthy browns, greys, yellows, oranges, reds and peaches, with the exception of a few sprinkles of duck-egg blue, without which, the picture would have become 'muddy;' the blue acting as a highlight and providing contrast. Sometimes I used the rolling pin to press the colours into the cartridge paper, and sometimes I placed another sheet of cartridge paper over the picture and pressed with my hands.
Every couple of layers of pastel, I used spray fixative to stop them from rubbing off.
Artist's Pastels. Ochre shadows
Once happy with the sand, I used an ochre pastel to roughly put in some shade lines on the shell itself. Then, and this is where I cheated a little, I used white artist's Gouache to paint in the body of the shell in bright white, as it's often difficult to achieve bright white with pastels alone.
Artist's Pastels. Artist's Gouache Highlights
After letting the Gouache dry (which took about the length of time I took to drink a cup of coffee) I began to put some detail on the shell. I put broad shade lines in using a snady/peach colour, then, using the sharp edge of an Indian Red pastel I used short inverted curved lines to suggest the ridges on the shell's surface.
I added more ridges in the same way, using a dark brown pastel, then finally suggested some shadow by drawing broad vertical lines with the duck-egg blue.
At this point the shell looks like it's floating, so I used the shaving technique again, and sprinkled pastels over the edges of the shell to simulate parts of it being buried in the sand. I used the same blend of colours that I'd used for the body of the sand.
I also shaved some dark pastels lightly over the shell itself to suggest a few stray grains of sand.
Finally, I stippled black pastel around the top of the shell, just to give the whole picture a little more definition.
Once happy witht the whole drawing I used the spray fixative again to set the whole picture and stop the pastels from rubbing off.