In this demonstration I shall attempt to capture the feeling of clusters of wisteria in full bloom, touched by the morning light and casting delicate shadows over the façade of the building and foreground.


Figure 1

Step 1:  Select a neutral grey mid-toned piece of Pastelcard, which will give equal importance to both light and dark marks.

Step 2:  Using the side of a thick stick of natural charcoal, sketch in the composition. Draw as loosely as possible because the pastel painting will become tighter as the work progresses. By using the ‘side’ of the charcoal, different tones can be suggested effortlessly.

Step 3:  Lightly use the side of a lemon yellow No.2 pastel to indicate the sunlit highlights and to suggest form.


Figure 2

Step 1: With a delicate touch so that subsequent layers can be applied easily, block in colour and tone using the side of broken pieces of different coloured pastel. Raw sienna No.6 is used for the oak door; purple grey No.6 for the shaded areas around the wisteria; dark shades of green-grey and blue-green for the foliage; raw umber No.4 for the stonework and different tints of rose madder for the wisteria blooms.

Step 2: Leave some areas with little or not pastel showing, so that the neutral grey background shows through to represent the grey flint walls. This will help to unify the overall colour balance.

Step 3:  Lightly add transparent glazes of yellow ochre No.4 and lemon yellow No. 2 to areas that are lit by the morning sunlight. This is done by gently dragging the side of the pastel across the affected areas.

Step 4: Using a tissue, lightly soften any unwanted hard-edged areas.

Step 5: Block in the foreground using broader, bolder, horizontal strokes of cadmium orange and raw sienna.

Now is a good time to take stock of your work and decide which areas can be left as they are and which areas need more modification and refinement.


Figure 3

Step 1: In order to create texture, intensity and a feeling of strong sunlight, I need to work into the previous layers of pastel with more vigorous strokes.  Working a lemon yellow No.2 pastel into the existing layer of colour creates sunlight on the door, and the introduction of olive green Nos. 8 and 4 bring the foliage to life.

Step 2:  The blooms of the wisteria are emphasised by adding a rose madder No. 0 to the highlights and pansy violet No. 8 to the areas in shade.

Step 3: The foreground, parts of the wisteria and the stone wall are treated with a texture by using a slight stabbing motion with the tip of the pastel.

Step 4: At this stage I usually check to see if I need to use any fixative on the work.  If any layers drop away from the board after tapping it, then a light application of fixative is required.  Having applied it, your work will appear slightly darker and the delicate, transparent layers will be less evident, so some last minute modification is needed.

Step 5: Restore your highlights by delicately using lemon yellow No.0 and strengthen your drawing by putting in ‘accents’ particularly around the door and window frames, using a deep warm pastel such as autumn brown No.8.

Avoid overworking your pastel painting.  It should remain fresh and, if possible, have some of the different stages still visible at the end.