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Soft Pastel Picture - Riverscapes

Updated on August 16, 2013

Iford Bridge Picture in Soft Pastels

This picture was produced using Reeves Fine Soft pastels onto Daler Ingres pastel paper 90g, original sheet size 18" x 12". Colour of paper grey.
This picture was produced using Reeves Fine Soft pastels onto Daler Ingres pastel paper 90g, original sheet size 18" x 12". Colour of paper grey.

Introduction to Making a Picture in Soft Pastels

I don't really think of myself as an artist, I think of myself as a picture maker. I have very little time to be creative, I don't feel creative, I would like to be creative,but it just is not in me, that's fine, work with what you have got is what I think.

So, if you are some one who does not have much of a creative mind but a feeling that they would like to have a go anyway, then you are probably in the same boat as I am. I have little time to make pictures other than at Christmas or late in the evening when the rest of the family have gone to bed.

I take as many short cuts as possible to get the image produced in as little time as possible.

First of all I search the Internet for existing pictures to use as a base for a composition, also using art books and images from magazines, next I scan the Internet for photos of locations to use, if I find an image of a view which is local to me then I might go out on site and visit the area and photograph the site myself.

The digital image was taken from the same position that I had found on the Internet when searching for images through Google image search. The image was then printed in grey-scale onto two A4 sheets of paper and then stuck together. I then used the faded image to use to transfer the proportions of the picture onto the drawing paper. I did this by rubbing the back with a light coloured soft pastel and then drawing on the front of the gray-scale image onto the drawing paper which would then leave a faint image of the picture ready for me to colour in.

I put as sheet of sandpaper under the drawing paper so that when I apply the soft pastels and rub too hard into the paper it will not flatten the texture of the paper too much. I also put a layer of cotton fabric sheeting underneath the sandpaper to give the paper more bounce. it works for me anyway.

I start with building up the mid tones of the picture and then work on the lighter tones and the darker tones until i finish with the detail and the highlights. I avoid using black soft pastels and I try and use as little a range of pastels as possible to produce the picture.

I often get my compositions wrong and nearly always dislike my results. I enjoy the journey, the process that is required to get there, even though I am usually disappointed when I finish the picture.

One thing I learnt from reading about Claude Monet was to revisit the same subject again and again and again, it is sometimes surprising what you find. Take as landscape and capture it in the different seasons, in different weathers, times of the day, use different art materials, use soft pastels and then try the same subject in acrylic paint or oils, pen and ink or pencil. Do the picture small and then do it as large as you can.

Another thing that can be done with a single art composition would be to try and copy another artists technique. I learnt more about art technique by trying to copy other artist than I was ever taught by an art teacher at school.

When drawing with soft pastels I might also have a copy of the image held on a small digital picture frame to help me remember the colours of the image. take more than one image of the subject and edit the image with an online photo editing program which can be found on the internet.

About the picture maker

My name is Carl Armes and I spend most of my time running a sign business based in UK, England. So I find very little time to do any picture making. I also spend too much time on the Internet instead of trying to be a bit creative. I enjoy messing about with blogging and editing images and Internet marketing related stuff. Actually if i am not working I spend most of my time with my family and then it would be blogging and art and photography. The thing is, there just is not enough hours in the day.


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      Dori 3 years ago

      I love this idea. I homeschool my three kidods, 14, 8 and 3. In science, all three are learning about animals; my youngest two are learning how animals camouflage themselves. This project was a perfect addition to our lessons, especially since all three could do this project! They all sat down and created their hidden masterpieces! Thank you so much for sharing this idea. They are beautiful!

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      Emmy 5 years ago from Australia

      Wow, what a beautiful picture. I've worked with soft pastel before but have never achieved such results, you have great control!