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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > November 18 > Pastels en plein air

Pastels en plein air

David Allen describes what he looks for in a subject and demonstrates an autumn landscape in pastels


There is nothing more satisfying than being out in the open air with your easel in front of an inspiring view bathed in sunlight. The desire to capture it in paint is overwhelming – even more so when you have hundreds of pastels arranged in front of you and coffee and sandwiches to hand!

I am attracted to the effects of light on a subject but also to colour. Ideal conditions for painting en plein air in the UK are few and far between and you are more likely to be cold, battling a wind or incoming tide, dealing with fickle rain showers or being chatted to by bystanders. It is exposure to these factors and constantly working against the clock that imparts a fresh quality to the painting, in addition to the obvious advantages of being able to observe the local colours and tones. The couple of hours of intense concentration that you experience rubs off on any subsequent studio works. Photographs are good for both reference and for painting from in the studio, providing you are aware of their many pitfalls for the artist. My aim is to get the same degree of feeling that I experience outside into studio work, which is created from the plein-air study, photographs or a combination of the two.

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About The Artist

There's a definite seasonal theme in this month's issue as we say goodbye to the UK summer and our contributing artists turn to working with a more autumnal palette in watercolour (Ian Sidaway and cover artist Paul Talbot-Greaves), and pastel (David Allen), whilst Geoff Hunt shows how it's possible to paint watercolours in the rain. Mixed-media enthusiasts will love the demonstrations by Chris Forsey and Soraya French, who shows how to create exciting textures in acrylic landscapes, whilst Robert Dutton urges us to embrace our 'mistakes' as we develop our creativity. For more detailed painting styles, be inspired by Lucy McKie's intricate paintings, and Tim Gustard's photorealist approach to creating the illusion of glass objects. We also include articles on line and wash techniques, 16 invaluable tips from female members of the Royal Watercolour Society, advice on painting the sea and sky in watercolour, how to create a strong focal point, and develop a style of our own. Plus, study our additional 16-page Art Courses & Holidays supplement for great ideas for some personal art tuition in the UK or overseas!