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A Lion In Pastel
Having visited a wild cat sanctuary only a few days ago, Vic had taken a picture of “Tiny” a mature male lion of about 10 years of age who was to be the subject on tonight’s demonstration.
Vic used velour paper, which is an acid free backing paper with nylon fibres sprayed onto it. This feels like old fashioned flock wall paper but acts a bit like a short pile rug, in which the pastel is the dirt and when rubbed in stays fixed. Many layers can be added to give deeper softer colours and effects. Vic uses 2 types of pastels, Faber-Castell - a hard edged square shaped pastel and an SAA soft round pastel which gives the effect of a 3B pencil.
He creates his pictures in 5 stages. In stage one, he gets the image on to the paper using either charcoal or a soft ivory pastel, NOT graphite as this stains too harshly and is difficult to cover later. He uses straight lines and angles to obtain his basic shape even if the image has curves.
In Stage two, Vic adds the under painting using grey tonal features. This adds shape, shadows, mid tones and high lights. When the pastel is smoothed in with your finger the pastel will not move.
Stage three sees the introduction of colour, where Vic recommends restricting the palette to 3 colours only, 2 warm colours and a complimentary cool one. For the lion he used dark orange, yellow ochre and dioxazine purple. This is what Vic calls” the slap it on stage”, when blocks of colour are added to give a good grounding which will support the subtle tones to be added later
At stage four, details can be added. Vic told us that up until about 10 years ago he could spend 10 days painting fur, adding tonal layers from dark, through medium and then light. This would be one layer and he would do as many as 50 layers especially if he was painting wolves. Now he doesn’t do so many layers.
For the lion he showed us his own drunken pastel technique, (holding the pastel very loosely and allowing it to wobble over the fur) to give it a more natural look. An important tip was to always work from root to tip for fur or whiskers, blending in the root so that the hairs or whiskers didn’t look like a line painted on.
Finally in stage five, came contrast using orange and yellow ochre, bringing out the important features of the picture deepening the eye colour or the leather (nose) and jowl.
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