I’ve just finished the HowToPastel’s 31-pastels-in-31-days Challenge. This year I decided to use only my Unison Colour 36-set of pastels. In the end, I created 29 pieces with this set. Only two pieces weren’t: the first day’s pastel which I did prior to making this decision to use the Unison Colour 36-set; and one created when I only had a few minutes and for some
I’m a huge fan of Unison Colour pastels. Having used them, and only them over the past month, I’m now a committed user!
Unlike some other brands, the texture of Unison Colour pastels is consistent across all colours. The pastels are soft but not crumbly soft (again unlike some other brands). They are created from natural pigments and because of this choice, you won’t find some of the intense colours – like bright pink for instance – that I love and crave. Many of the colours have a greyed look which makes sense considering their Northumbrian (grey skies) origin. All in all, the company produces a wide range of colours and tones.
In this post, I’m going to show you the variety of work I did from this single box of Unison Colour 36-set. You’ll see which colours I rarely used (though I tried!) and those I put to use often. And through this experiment, I’ve begun to get a better sense of the pastels I’ll be including in my own Unison Colour set which I hope will be developed in 2019. (I’ll keep you posted!)
Right. Let’s crack on.
The first few pastel paintings I did in the 31-in-31 challenge were of a single subject. You can see the pieces and read about the experience and value of painting one subject by clicking here.
One morning I was wondering what to paint and there, hanging in the bathroom after his swim, were Cam’s goggles. I loved the way the light glowed through them – I’d found my subject! This was an easy one regarding colour availavility as the Unison Colour 36-set has a plethora of yellow and blues.
Next, I’ll show you a piece I did while visiting my parents on Salt Spring Island. And yes – this set is easy to travel with! I wanted to do something metal as I prepare for a workshop I’m teaching on that topic in Florida. The Unison Colour 36-set only has four darks – a red, a blue, a green and an almost black (Grey 36). Whenever I can, I always try to reach for a colour rather than black. And as you’ll see, this is what I did in this piece.
The next piece I have to show you is a piece of Venetian glass that’s backlit. This is a vase that my parents brought home from Venice in the 1960s so it’s pretty special! The glass itself has a cloudy appearance of whites and pale blues. It was tricky to create this creamy opacity without using only light colours. Instead, I applied full on colour and then began layering in complements and lighter colours.
I then started a scissors series (say that three times fast!). Here’s one that frustrated me colourwise. In life, the scissors sat on a warm mauve coloured paper but there are no cool reds in the 36-set. There’s only one purple (
After working on six scissor paintings, I needed a break! And so, painting over a small piece I’d done on location at the Albuquerque Hotel at IAPS in 2017 that hadn’t worked out that well, I made some random marks using a colour selection that I liked (blues, greens, and yellow). And then, because I love figurative work, I looked for signs of people within the piece. And there they were! I made sure I had colours that spread through the three main value areas of light, middle, and dark. The colours in the Unison Colour 36-set worked fabulously!
Even though, during the Challenge, I spent a couple days with family in Bowser celebrating my Dad’s 89th birthday, that didn’t mean I could stop pastelling daily! So in the quiet part of evenings, I did a couple of small images from photos I’d taken on our celebratory afternoon outing. Since I hadn’t done any landscapes so far, I was happy to do something in that genre. For the “Walk in the Forest,” I played with value and instead of trying to recreate the colour of tree trunks, I made these natural pillars red. They’re still a dark value but red!
The second one is more of a realistic landscape though dominated by the figures of my brother and sister-in-law with their dog Peri.
Both of these are small pieces! Again, I loved the constraint of using only the pastels from the Unison Colour 36-set!
And if you know me, you know I love pears both to paint and eat. So I had to do some of those! I woke one morning to a mental vision of pears lined up against a blue background. I liked the idea of a tall format, and, this colour combination would give me a chance to get into the brownish pastels of the set to complement the blues. Well, that mostly didn’t happen because I still couldn’t get excited about using the browns. Sigh. Instead, I tended to use reds and yellows to create an
Notice the pink strip? You can see that it doesn’t have any relevance to the pears. Well, that was part of my vision too! It’s there to remind us that the painting is only an illusion of reality and is, in reality, pastel on paper (which, as it turns out, was the group mantra for the Challenge!).
Back I went to scissors after having
So there you have a few of the pieces I did for the 31-pastels-in-31-days Challenge and all done with the Unison Colour 36-set of pastels.
What I want to know is, has this inspired you to try a set of paintings using ONLY one set of a limited number of pastels? You can make up your own set of 30 or so pastels if you don’t have bought set. I encourage you to try this! It will push you to think in terms of values. It will also develop your sense of colour and layering to achieve what you see as closely as possible. Please leave me a comment!! Have you tried this? Will you try this??
You can see all 31 paintings by clicking here. Remember, all my 31-in-31 pastel paintings are half price in November! Email me if you’re interested – firstname.lastname@example.org
And that’s all for now!
Until next time,
PS. I’m thinking of releasing videos of me painting many of my 31-in-31 paintings for a very reasonable price. Is this something you would be interested in?