Saturday, 3 March 2012

Poppies in the Barley

Pastel on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, 19 x 263/4 inches

I enjoyed painting this one  - a real taste of Summer to come.  It's actually a view across the Welland Valley, just a mile or so from my studio.  I loved the aerial perspective, with the progressively bluer and paler tones of the trees and hedgerows as they recede into the distance, so I felt it warranted a large size board. If you can get the colour and tone right, you convey a wonderful feeling of depth and space in a landscape like this - quintessentially English.

As far as technique goes, I paint in a similar way with soft pastels as I do with oil paint; I lay the darker colours down first, then superimpose the lighter tones and colours over the top.  The major difference between Pastels and Oils, is that you need hundreds of Pastel sticks in all different colours and shades, because you can't mix the colours on a palette - being a dry medium, the strokes have to be put on 'as is' and more marks made with another shade into and next to the previous marks.  I don't find it a terribly suitable medium for plein air work for that very reason - it's just not practical to have so many sticks laid out on a 3ft board in front of me, so I tend to restrict Pastel work to the studio. 

I shall be taking some of my recent oils down to my Devon Gallery very soon for the AAF at Batterea Park.  I shall also take these Pastels to Calmar Framing in Exeter while I'm down there.  Philip Bate who runs Calmar does the most fantastic hand-finished gessoed frames around, and although expensive, they look a million dollars.  One of the main costs for framing is the glass alone - I've taken to using ClearColour with UV protection.  This glass is so incredibly clear, you can hardly tell there is any glass in the frame at all, and the difference compared with standard 2mm float glass is like comparing night and day.  The drawback is that a piece of glass for this picture will be about £90 alone, but I figure the difference is worth it.

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