Saturday, March 30, 2013

Marmalade #3

Rather than finish the brass base of the scuttle, I moved on to the kumquats, partly because I already had enough brass around which to manoeuvre without smudging it; and partly because I wanted to try out a new set of hues. 
The first photo is an assembly of ochres, browns and oranges in Rembrandt and Caran d'Aches sticks, and Derwent and CarbOthello pencils. You can probably make out hues such as Spectrum Orange, Orange Earth, Burnt Sienna, Terracotta etc. (I did add a couple more later to extend the value range)

Contrary to my normal practice, I used the softer pastels first, crosshatching and blending to get a tonal. I then worked into that base with the harder pencils, modifying, hatching, scumbling to create more variety. I have a much greater range of orange tints and shades in Sennelier, but these are really too soft to work into with pencils. I might revert to them at the end, when I do a final assessment. The highlights are very pale lemon yellow, not white. Reflections of the fruit will be re-visited when the brass is completed, the reflection of the porcelain is done, and the background finalised.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Marmalade #2

This is a continuation of the previous post. I have begun to fill in the background rather more, staying with the darkest of the neutral greys from Schminke; this is a soft pastel and spreads readily to give a nice even background.
The porcelain jar is about there. I have emphasised some lights and darks, especially in the pattern, and modelled the left side more carefully.
The brass scuttle has been worked on with Rembrandt pastels, with a few Schminke greys and a couple of Caran d'Ache sticks. The handle has been given its second layer; and the lion's face in the centre has been modelled.
I will continue with the brass - the base of the scuttle - and then return to the fruit before moving on to paint the reflections.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Marmalade #1

This is a set-up that contains a brass scuttle with a white and blue porcelain handle, a white porcelain jar with a blue design, and a handful of kumquats - mandarins were too big, and anyway I have a recipe for Kumquat and Pear Chutney that goes well with duck....

The set-up - note that the jar has been resized down in PaintShop Pro - it was originally the same size as the scuttle, creating a conflict of interest between the two major components of the composition. You can clearly see where I merged the layers on top of the left-most kumquat!

The next task is to interpret the colours in the subject. To that end I reduce the photograph to 16 colours in PaintShop Pro.

Using this image as a reference, I block in the underpainting with a limited selection of hard pastels - CarbOthello pencils, Nupastels and Rembrandt sticks. The support is my usual Clairefontaine Pastelmat.

Next I start to develop the porcelain jar, using a range of Rembrandt greys from lightest through about four darker shades. I also make use of the Rembrandt blue-grey shades to obtain a greater sublety in the colours; all are blended by finger. The darks surrounding the jar are in the main the darkest neutral grey by Schminke, which is a very warm grey, to contrast with the cool greys of the jar; this will also harmonise with the colours of the brass scuttle, assuming I continue to use it behind that section.
To be continued.....

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Coffee #2 Final

This is at the point where I leave it for a while until I figure out the finishing details - highlights to be emphasised (edges of coffee pods), edges to be lost (and found too - see the right edge of the jug, nearest the coffee mill); at least I know how it will be framed.  
The reflections were basically the same colours as the main objects, but the more greyed versions within the hues. I considered using the original colours for the reflections, spraying that section with fixative, going over them with a very soft neutral grey from Schminke, and then partially blowing off the overcoat with compressed air. But I think I'll experiment with that idea before trying it on an almost finished piece!
Pastel on Clairefontaine's Pastelmat - as usual! 14 x 11 ins (35 x 27.5 cm) unframed.

Pastel Painting with Sophie Amauger in Mayo

The Société des Pastellistes de France have 2 spaces available for the pastel landscape workshop that Sophie Amauger will organize at Rock House, Co, Mayo, from 8 May to 3 June.
The workshop will last 4 days with 1 day at leisure in the middle. The rate : 
1,000 per person all in, including transfers from Dublin Airport to Mayo.
Contact Liliane Desmarest, President of the Société des Pastellistes de France at or else visit the website of the Société des Pastellistes for an overview.

Le Seau Orange © Sophie Amauger
Sophie Amauger is ideally placed to teach this course. Sophie has been teaching creative arts for children and adults since 2003. Inspired by nature, she paints pastels that she has exhibited both at home and abroad. Her website address is
I suppose it would be useful to be able to speak French, but it is not essential.

Rock House Ballycroy, Nr. Westport, Co Mayo is a large 1820s lodge on a 30,000 acres sporting estate in North Mayo, one of the wildest and most unspoilt regions of Ireland. The house is surrounded by thirty acres of mature parkland. This contrasts perfectly with the stark beauty of the barren, mountainous landscape that is so characteristic of this region.
For  Rock House, the phone number is +353 (0) 85 212 15 64 or email them at

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Coffee #2 cont.

This is where I begin to fill in the background, once it will not interfere with the objects in the painting. It allows me to weigh the contrasts, and decide on how much I want to lose edges in the shadow areas. The coffee mill has been developed with soft pastels in the ochre hues, mainly from Rembrandt, with a nice red/brown from Caran d'Ache - (actually Dark Carmine 089.)
The background is a mixture of soft dark green and dark blue from Sennelier.