Thursday, 11 September 2014

Figures in pastel workshop

Yesterday I attended a very good workshop at the Lady Lever Gallery at Port Sunlight, run by Steve Hersey.

The subject was figures in pastel, and it was designed to accompany their current Rossetti’s Obsession exhibition, where you can see drawings and chalk sketches that Rossetti made of his muse Jane Morris. It's really interesting to see these pieces, they helped me to understand Rossetti's pre-painting process of pencil drawings, chalk tonal sketches, chalk colour sketches, all before he began his oil paintings.

In the workshop we began by looking at stick figures, dividing the body into 8 head lengths



which we then turned into block figures. I have studied these before but did have one ah-ha! moment when we used arcs (which I turned into circles as I find them easier to draw) to find joint positions.



Next we developed our block figures into robot figures and added shading, taking around 10 minutes on this. Something went wrong with the arm on the right here - I should have noticed and corrected it at the stick figure stage, but never mind, I'm pleased with the rest of it.




After a much needed coffee break, we completed 5 minute A3 sketches of each other, concentrating on proportions that we had learnt in the previous session and starting out with a stick-to-robot under-drawing.



Next Steve demonstrated a figure in pastel using an improvised sheet of paper (a piece of paper table cloth) and very basic reeves pastels, proving that you do not need specialist materials to get a good result.

And finally Steve posed for us and gave us half an hour to complete our own A3 pastel portrait. I really hate the feeling of chalk on my fingers so was not looking forward to working with pastels, but I can honestly say that we were working so fast that I didn't have time to think about it!



I really enjoyed this workshop and whilst I'm not converted to pastels, I did enjoy using them for half an hour. They create far too much dust for me to consider using them at home, I'm not overly fond of cleaning (!) and need relatively a dust free environment for my oils.

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the blog, I'm glad you enjoyed your workshop and your portrait of Steve is really good!

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    1. Hi Margaret, thanks for your comment and compliment, although if you saw Steve in real life you wouldn't think it looked much like him...I can see lots of errors, but given we only had half an hour from start to finish I'm just pleased that he looks human!

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  2. Looks like he was very thorough and you got through a lot of work in a short time. I love the action shots and the pastel of him posing for you. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to have a go myself.
    Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Polly you'll really enjoy this workshop, Steve is a lovely guy. He whizzed along at quite a pace, but you're already adept at figures in your watercolours so you won't have any trouble keeping up. If you have some good quality pastels it might be worth taking them along, although the Reeves ones were perfectly suited to the fast nature of the job and we all encountered and overcame the same 'wrong colours' problems.

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  3. Replies
    1. Yes it was a lot of fun! Thanks for stopping by :)

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  4. Super blog Stephie.... just shows how you can be taught to draw... think the 5 minute A3 sketch is excellent!!

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    1. Thanks Judith :) You and I are on the same page there, I firmly believe that both drawing and painting are skills that can be learnt - it's simply a case of knowing the rules and then allowing yourself to break them!

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