Hydrangea (sketch); 8×6 inches approx.

Currently trying to get my larger recent pastel outdoors to photograph, but it’s now raining for a few days so will have to wait. Meanwhile, here’s a small sketch in pastel-pencil of a faded hydrangea bloom.

The shrub I have produces delicate off-white flowers, with touches of green and blue in the early stages of growth. Later in the year, the white petals begin to blotch and acquire pinkish-red edges; some florets change colour completely. This particular bloom was brought indoors and drawn using Conte pastel-pencils on a grey shade of Daler Ingres paper. Thinking about it, I might have also used a few Carbothello pastel-pencils as well.

I don’t often use this paper because it doesn’t have enough tooth for my soft pastels; it also has lines and ridges in it because it is a laid paper. However, it works fine with pastel-pencils and provides a tinted background; the lighter colours stand out against it, they would be rather lost on a white one.

The sketch itself isn’t totally finished, it was all I had time for on that particular day, which was last year….but I retained the drawing because I liked the effect of the light-coloured lines against the grey paper.

There is a belief that pastel-pencils are just for adding details to a nearly-complete soft-pastel work. They can certainly be used for this, but if this was the sole purpose for making them, there wouldn’t be a range of some sixty colours. These pencils can create delicate, almost watercolour-like drawings; they will blend and smudge easily, permitting sharp lines to interweave with softer forms. I used them to begin last year’s “Rudbeckias” picture, and also “Pewter Mug with Daisies” and “Casual Gold”. They are proving to be highly effective at providing the layout and base for softer-pastel floral work.

Next post will be a day or so before the end of September.

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