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A Place to Reflect: pastel 14x11 inches

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Following my inner struggle to complete the recent small oil painting of marmalade jar and dish, I have managed to recover and successfully complete not one, or even two, but FOUR pastel paintings in the past week. Today's image was begun last week on a sheet of white Pastelmat card. I chose white because although I wanted a deepish green atmosphere to the whole thing, I didn't want a UNIFORM green all over. Starting therefore with white, I painted over the pastelmat surface with diluted ink, mixing together a deep blue with a deep green, plus a little touch of orange-red which took out the slightly garish appearance of the first two. I marked in the positions for the background trees, leaving an upper middle area white, which was actually a background field. The tree sections were darkened suitably to provide shadowy depth. The ink painting was carried on down into the water area, keeping it slightly lighter. The whole thing was left to dry.

Not all pastel papers cope with ink or other wet media. PastelMat seems to manage fine, and Colorfix is particularly amenable. I have also used fluid on Canson Touch. However do not use fluids on Sennelier Pastelcard, because the surface will flake off.

Once dry, I was then able to plan out the pastel. I say "plan" because in reality I tend to work by instinct; each picture I do is actually begun in a different way every time. I chose to mass in the darks for the trees on left and right, and also add dark "holes" for the central greeny-grey shrub. The upper pale yellowy-green field was added early, to provide contrast. From here, I simply worked downwards, marking in the horizontals for the landing-stage before continuing with the yellowy green growth and adding further colour to the background trees.

The bench was drawn in lightly with a harder Rembrandt pastel, using a pale blue-grey and working into it later with near-white. The boat was drawn in with the same harder pastels, ensuring the boat-curves were visible, before later adding softer pastel. On each side, the mauve-pink shrubs were created with medium greens plus suitable purples and pinks. Finally, moving to the water, all the same colours as used "above" were employed for the reflections, dulling them slightly by occasional light rubbing.

Unison's Dark Jewel range is especially useful for subjects like these; and smaller pieces of broken Daler Rowney pastels provided easier execution of the mauve-pink flowerheads. The work received light fixing-spray at several stages, particularly for the water, where the surface was brushed with acrylic medium at one point to dissolve the pastel dust and move it around. Overall, the result is very close to what I intended.

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