Category Archives: Tutorials

Longer than quick tips, tutorials will help you understand the process of painting in pastels whether in a pastel demo on video, step by step progressions, or a detailed look at a pastel painting

10 minute painting: Gail Sibley, "Hair Care," Unison pastels on UART 320 paper, 5 x 6 in

A 10-Minute Painting? Yes You Can!

Every week in the HowToPastel Facebook group, we have a Friday Challenge. The challenge could be to paint a specific subject or create a painting in particular way. Last week, inspired by the interviews with Jen Evenhus and Tony Allain, the challenge was to create a 10-minute painting. Yup you heard me. A 10-minute painting. Since it was my challenge, I thought I better darn well take part!

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Detail of Summer Flowers in a Vase

Summer Flowers In A Vase…Or…The Case Of The Disappearing Coaster!

Visiting my Mum and Dad last weekend, I was struck by the light and colour of summer flowers in a vase on the living room table. The thing that really got my attention though was the way the red coaster was visible beside the vase but disappeared behind it even though the vase was transparent. It then ‘appeared’ in two other places ‘on’ the vase. Well I wasn’t about to figure out why and how that happened but I did become interested in capturing the effect. This painting was so much about painting what you see, not what you know! So let me take you through the process.

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Demo with Sennelier pastels

Demo With Sennelier Pastels At Their IAPS Booth

I’m back from four amazing days at IAPS!! This pastel conference connects and reconnects you with wonderful people who are all passionate about pastels. It also inspires you through demos, workshops, and the exhibition of amazing work from around the world. It’s also a place to stock up on pastel supplies at the ‘candy store’ where you can converse directly with the vendors – offering feedback, finding out about new products, getting the best deals you’ll probably find. While there, I had the opportunity to demo with Sennelier pastels at the Savoir Faire booth. I thought I’d share the progression and results of this demo with you.

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Édouard Manet, "George Moore," 1879, pastel on canvas, 21 3/4 x 13 7/8 (55.2 x 35.2 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA - detail. Oh. My. Gosh. The eyes!! You could write a whole blog post about just this! you can see Manet looking, seeing, and making his strokes. Much of the canvas is left bare and that's the cool playing off the warm pastels of creams and yellows. The eyes are there but with so little to describe them. And look at that reddish line for the eye on the left - that says something with so little about Moore's state don't you think?

Édouard Manet’s Pastel Painting – “George Moore” – Audacious And Enduring

There’s a pastel painting I’ve always loved – it’s Édouard Manet’s “George Moore”.

I was reminded of it today when, searching my book shelf for something else, I came across a book, Édouard Manet Pastels by John Rewald published in 1947. This book is particularly special to me as it first belonged to my grandfather Newton Brett and was then passed on to my Mum, Joanne Sibley. The thing is, it also survived the devastation of sea and sand in Hurricane Ivan. My Mum’s note when she gave it to me for Christmas a number of years ago said, “Another ‘Ivan’ escapee – almost. I am sure Dad would love to know that you are now enjoying it.” Like I said, very special!

I’ve been wanting to do another ‘Close Look’ blog and as far as I was concerned, this was a sign to do it today! It was difficult to decide which of Édouard Manet’s pastels to choose – there are so many luscious ones of women! – but in the end, I chose this one of George Moore, executed in one sitting.

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Lack of colour choices: feature image

Lack Of Colour Choices Will Get Your Creativity Flowing

If all you have is a limited palette, a lack of colour choices can stop you from painting some subjects. I’m here to persuade you to take up the creativity challenge with the pastels you have available – you may be surprised!

Take today’s demo – a box of tissues as its subject. It’s a lot of off-whites on off-whites. But say my palette only has a few colours to choose from, what do I do? Well let’s check it out.

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Breaking the rules: I wanted to bring the parts of the floor together and make it all less colourful. So I scumbled a warm black pastel (Unison Grey 13) over much of the floor area. And it's done. Gail Sibley, "Night Slippers on Black," Unison pastels on UART 320 grade, 12 x 12 in.

How Breaking The Rules Can Overcome Blank Canvas Syndrome

I’m back in my studio after a wee getaway to Seattle and then Salt Spring Island. The DK Project is pretty much wrapped up so I can do what I like in my studio. But being able to do anything often means I do nothing! And so the blank canvas sits starring back at me. I’ve spoken previously about the usefulness of boundaries and restrictions in pushing creativity so I decided to set up a challenge. This time, it would be about breaking the rules.

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Creating colour studies: three colour studies with first layer

How Creating Colour Studies Can Improve Your Paintings

I know how tempting it is to get right in there and paint when you’re excited about a subject. But hold on, did you do a thumbnail?! And what about creating colour studies, have you drawn up a couple of those?

I know I know, I hear you – it all takes so much time!! But you know what? A bit of time spent in preparation can save you frustration and disappointment in the long run, and also help you produce an exceptional painting!

So what are colour studies?

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No Time to Paint? Gail Sibley, "The Plug," Unison pastels on UArt 400, 3 1/4 x 6 in. Finished after a few tweaks.

No Time To Paint? No Excuse! Painting A Plug In 20 Minutes

So you think you have no time to paint? One of the things I learned doing the 31 in 31 challenge last month is that there really is always a way to carve out time to create art.

I spend a lot of time on my computer these days, e.g. working on my blog, connecting with members of the HowToPastel Facebook group, or developing my online courses. I often feel desperate for and incapable of finding time to get in my studio, but having done the challenge, I realize that’s a crock! It’s easy to make excuses about having no time to paint. So what to do about it?

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Paint even when you don't feel like it: That's it! Gail Sibley, "Last Fling," Schminke pastels on UArt 400 paper, 6 x 6 in

Why You Should Paint Even When You Don’t Feel Like It… And Some Gerberas

Today I painted even though I didn’t feel like it. The reason? This blog. The looming deadline acted as a spark and ignited my painting soul. And I realized how important it is to paint even when you don’t feel like it.

Painting isn’t easy.

Being creative isn’t easy.

It’s damn hard work in fact. And because it’s hard work, sometimes we just don’t do it!

Those who don’t create usually don’t understand how difficult painting is. It’s all, “What fun it must be to spend time all day painting” and “How lucky you are to spend time painting.” True for sure, but you just know the way it’s being said that those speakers think it’s an easy, laadeedah thing you’re doing.

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