Thistles: pastel 18×14″

This latest picture has taken me some time; around 25 hours over the past two and a bit weeks. It has been made with both Carbothello and Conte pastel-pencils, with the occasional input from some green Rembrandt pastel sticks. The thistle heads were made from a soft white pastel plus the slightly harder edges of one or two purple Rembrandts.

The surface is black Colourfix sanded paper. All the plant parts were drawn with Conte pastel pencil and then various shadings applied using colours from both pastel-pencil ranges. The greens and yellows in particular tend to stand out, almost fluorescent….it is a characteristic of harder pastels that the resulting image is a somewhat muted one….not as “powdery” as one done with soft pastels such as Unison or Sennelier.

A fair amount of detail is achievable, although the pencil-points are prone to depositing pastel-dust where you don’t always want it. This work was quite experimental, both in subject and in size…I was not sure how much was achievable with just pastel-pencils alone, but in the end it worked out fine. I used the standard-grit Colorfix paper….next time I may try the newer “smooth” one, which has a lower-profile grit surface, just to see whether it is better suited to pastel-pencil points.

I have been very particular in using only pastel-pencil colours that are lightfast; two or three-star gradings, with 3 being the best in these makes. Pastel pencils are very short of the paler colours, it’s necessary to substitute with other pastels (I used Rembrandt, which are fairly firm and can provide a sharp edge). Flower pastellists do, unfortunately have to face the fact that pastel-pencils don’t provide them with lightfast colours in the magentas, mauves and pale pinks categories. Not in these brands anyway, so some ingenuity is required to overcome the problem.

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