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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > February 18 > Creating space

Creating space

Patrick Cullen shares his tips for using pastels along with compositional advice as he demonstrates a pastel painting of an orchard in full blossom

On the occasions I run a workshop I usually do a demonstration to supplement verbal advice and suggestions, as many things are better conveyed practically than with words. On this occasion I was working in pastel. Pastels can be employed in many ways but broadly speaking the results fall into two main categories. Traditionally, pastel drawings have been produced on paper grounds not dissimilar to papers used for charcoal, pencil, watercolour and gouache but generally with a mid-tone, often a warmish grey or ochre. The pastel is applied lightly and does not entirely fill in the grain of the paper, giving the resulting work a pleasing airy feel. Liveliness and freshness is achieved by allowing the pastel ‘to breathe’. In recent times papers have been developed with a much fiercer tooth, rather like fine sandpaper. On such supports the pastel quickly builds up to cover the ground almost entirely, giving the appearance of an oil or acrylic painting. In this context, the expression ‘pastel painting’ seems entirely appropriate.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our February issue with our extra 16-page guide to art courses and holidays for 2018, including Kevin Scully's article on what to take into consideration and what to pack to make the most of the opportunities offered by a structured course away from home. Our artists also offer plenty of ideas and inspiration for painting a variety of subjects in a broad range of media, including pastel pencil animals, a horse in watercolour, trees and an orchard in pastels, mixed-media collages inspired by old buildings, a photorealist self-portrait in oils and more. In addition, Hazel Soan starts her new three-part series on light and shade in watercolour by explaining how to train your eye to see and interpret tone, Judi Whitton demonstrates how to mix and exploit a wide range of lively greys in your watercolour paintings, while Paul Gadenne shows why and how acrylics can be the key to achieving greater spontaneity in your work. Be inspired and enjoy trying some new ideas under the guidance of our fantastic team of contributing artists!