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Gareth Jones, A Ray of Hope, 2020, Unison Colour and Mount Vision pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 60x80 cm. Sold. A second consecutive Bold Brush top 15% entry

Gareth Jones – Unlocking Potential Through Pastels

Gareth Jones was one of those artists whose pastels snuck up on me – one day I noticed that they were there! Little did I know that he hadn’t been using pastels for all that long. Certainly, you can’t tell this from his work which feels as if it’s produced by someone comfortable with using pastels for many years.

I’ve featured Gareth’s work twice in my top ten roundups – once in December 2017 with Dark Waters 1 and again in April 2018 with The Coast is Clear. Evidently, with two pieces featured so closely one after the other, I was enamoured with this Welsh artist’s work. So you can imagine my delight when he agreed to guest post!

Don’t know Gareth Jones’s work? Have a peek.

Gareth Jones, "The Ebbing Light," 2017, Unison Colour pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 60x80cm. Sold. A private commission on a full sheet of the largest size of LaCarte available.
Gareth Jones, “The Ebbing Light,” 2017, Unison Colour pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 60x80cm. Sold. A private commission on a full sheet of the largest size of LaCarte available.

Before handing over the blog to Gareth Jones, first a wee bit about him.

Gareth Jones Bio

Formerly a graphic designer and illustrator, Gareth Jones is now enjoying a growing reputation as a pastel artist. His work features in many galleries across the UK and in private collections overseas. He has exhibited in The Royal Society of Marine Artists exhibition in The Mall Galleries, London, and is a member of the East Anglian Group of Marine Artists. Winner of the North Wales Open Art Competition in 2020, Gareth has recently become an Associate Artist with Unison Colour pastels. He is also a popular tutor, conveying his passion for pastels through demonstrations and workshops. You can learn more on his website.

And now here’s Gareth Jones to share his journey…

~~~~~

Firstly, what an honour…. to receive a request from Gail Sibley to be the guest blogger this month was definitely a ‘pinch me’ moment. I have been a keen reader of these blogs from a stream of wonderful artists, imparting their wisdom and extensive knowledge – and all accompanied by astounding works of art created in this wonderful medium – it’s a tough act to follow!

So, why me? Someone who first held a pastel a little over five years ago, someone who switched from the fast lane of graphics and design to belatedly explore the more scenic route of fine art? What pearls of wisdom could I possibly share with such an enlightened audience? I can only recount the events that have led me to me writing these words. Hopefully, it may provide inspiration to some and prove that it’s never too late to release your potential. I’ll trust Gail’s judgement that I must be doing something right.

FROM THE BEGINNING

To suggest that I was a complete novice at painting would be misleading. Art was the (only) subject I excelled at throughout school, always top of the class. It just flowed and luckily, it came easily to me. My art teacher insisted that I attend art college but coming from a working-class background in North Wales, a career in the arts was deemed fanciful by my disapproving, steelworker father. Thanks to the belief and encouragement of my mother, I went anyway.

Gareth Jones, "Self Portrait," 1971, Silkscreen Print, 30x20cm. My only remaining piece of college work, aged 17.
Gareth Jones, “Self Portrait,” 1971, Silkscreen Print, 30x20cm. My only remaining piece of college work, aged 17.

After training in Graphics and Illustration at Flintshire and Loughborough Colleges of Art, I left Wales at the age of 19 and embarked on what became a long and very successful career running my own design agency for over 30 years. I had been a painter of sorts, a pretty competent and versatile illustrator until photography became more fashionable. Gouache, acrylics, and markers were my tools of trade – the fastest drying media possible. Time was always of the essence and deadlines were ever-present.

Life became a constant conveyor belt of pressures, deadlines, and management, which left zero time for creating art for myself. The advent of computers only distanced me further from the tactile pleasure and thrill of putting paint or pencil to paper. I was a workaholic for decades, in which time I neglected many things in life, including the process of creating purely for pleasure.

Gareth Jones, Commercial Illustration, c 1979, Acrylic and Rotring pen illustration for a motor vehicle filter manufacturer
Gareth Jones, Commercial Illustration, c 1979, Acrylic and Rotring pen illustration for a motor vehicle filter manufacturer

The pressure built. The yearning to return to a more personal way of being creative became stronger. I was always a collector of other peoples’ art and I would often stand in a gallery with my arms folded thinking, “I wonder if I have it inside me to produce something as good as that.” I finally hit life’s buffers at full speed in my mid-fifties – an incredibly difficult personal time – but the opportunity to do something about those private thoughts had inadvertently presented itself.

In 2009 I returned to Wales in a state of mental turmoil. I was fortunate to live right on the coast. Expansive dunes, vast empty beaches, and moody crashing waves suddenly filled my life and began to shape my future. Daily dog walks exposed me to the elements, usually rain, and I fell in love with the sea in all its wonderful guises. I would stare at the waves for hours, mesmerised by their infinite moods, their energy and their beauty. The opportunity to answer the creative call had arisen and the sea provided the perfect inspiration.

So I dug out some old art materials, took a deep breath and plunged in. Some early sketches and watercolours were hardly inspiring. Wasn’t this supposed to be like riding a bike? It turns out this wasn’t going to be as easy as I had thought. Self-confidence has never been my strongest attribute, but I do possess a quiet determination to succeed in all I do.

Gareth Jones, "Sea Holly," 2010, Acrylic on watercolour board, 30x20cm. Sold
Gareth Jones, “Sea Holly,” 2010, Acrylic on watercolour board, 30x20cm. Sold

Working in acrylics, I began to improve and signs were encouraging. In 2010, I produced Sea Holly, my first non-commercial painting in over 30 years. It was a turning point and through an artist friend, I was introduced to a gallery in Tenby, South Wales. One of the four paintings they took, Green Window, sold the very next day. It was a thrilling moment and just the spur I needed.

Gareth Jones, "Green Window," 2010, Acrylic on illustration board, 45x35cm. Sold. My first gallery sale
Gareth Jones, “Green Window,” 2010, Acrylic on illustration board, 45x35cm. Sold. My first gallery sale
Gareth Jones, "Alex," 2010, Acrylic on stretched canvas, 40x30cm. Sold. My first portrait.
Gareth Jones, “Alex,” 2010, Acrylic on stretched canvas, 40x30cm. Sold. My first portrait.

I experimented with various subjects – a still life, and my first ever portrait, Alex – but the sea was always calling and I produced Green Wave, a piece that proved to be a turning point. I had surprised even myself by visualising the connection that I felt with the sea. It had captured the movement, the play of light on water, and the translucency that initially drew my eye. Within two years of picking up my brushes, I was exhibiting two acrylic seascapes at the Mall Galleries, London, with the Royal Society of Marine Artists (RSMA).

It wasn’t until 2014, after a move back to the North Norfolk Coast in England necessitated by my wife’s career, that I began to experiment a little with different mediums. Soft Pastel? It was a medium that I had only encountered through art college in learnings of the masters such as Degas, Lautrec, etc. However, I then saw a contemporary soft pastel up close in a local gallery and was amazed by the intensity of colour and the freedom of strokes. This aroused my curiosity and I researched further. 

I began to open a door into the most incredible world of pastels. I was (and continue to be) astonished by the diversity and brilliance achieved in this medium by artists who I regarded as idols, many of whom have subsequently become friends through social media. 

Gareth Jones, "Green Wave," 2010, Acrylic on primed MDF panel, 40x40cm. Sold
Gareth Jones, “Green Wave,” 2010, Acrylic on primed MDF panel, 40x40cm. Sold

By chance, I discovered the work of Tony Allain online and, through a cancellation, I found myself attending his workshop in Broadway, England, armed with a handful of cheap pastels and a sheet or two of Canson Mi-Teintes paper. My attempts were frustratingly feeble but Tony was an inspiration… the speed in which he produced several masterpieces was quite astonishing. As someone who is always short on time and starting a new ‘career’ so late in life, this was a revelation. It had fired my imagination!

My wife Annette bought me my first ‘proper’ set of pastels that year as a Christmas present – the Heather Harman half-stick stick set from Unison. I opened the box and stroked them lovingly for several weeks not daring to disturb these sleeping beauties. Having read about the benefits of a sanded surface, I also bought myself a sheet of Sennelier LaCarte pastelcard from my local art supplier.

It was a Eureka moment – electrifying in its intensity. I felt the direct connection with the pastel and the surface, it all suddenly felt so natural. I created my first pastel, On Reflection, and realised that I had found my true medium. It was (on reflection) too heavily blended but it was a promising start and it sold immediately. I had started down the road of discovery.

Gareth Jones, "On Reflection," 2014, Unison Colour pastels on Sennelier LaCarte Pastelcard, 35x45cm. Sold. My first pastel painting
Gareth Jones, “On Reflection,” 2014, Unison Colour pastels on Sennelier LaCarte Pastelcard, 35x45cm. Sold. My first pastel painting

There was so much to take in and I preferred to experiment at my own pace, learning from my own inevitable mistakes, but it wasn’t long before I was working exclusively in pastel, still with seascapes as my main inspiration. I began to understand how these incredible sticks of colour worked, the unique qualities they had over all the other mediums that I had tried.

In 2015, I was invited to become a member of the East Anglian Group of Marine Artists, (EAGMA), a highly regarded group of very talented artists who covered all aspects of marine subjects. It furthered my connections and I began to show my work more widely in a growing list of galleries.

Gareth Jones, "White Spirit," 2015, Unison Colour pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 32x50cm. Sold
Gareth Jones, “White Spirit,” 2015, Unison Colour pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 32x50cm. Sold

Pastels liberated my sense of colour and my work gradually became bolder and looser as in ‘White Spirit’. I felt I had captured the essence of the sea that I had achieved with acrylics but now in a looser, more natural style.

My work may be too representational for some – working in a photorealistic way as an illustrator had come relatively easy to me – but whilst I still aspire to retain the accuracy and believability of my subject, I also attempt to convey a deep emotional connection. My aim is to transport the viewer to the precise moment that the subject revealed itself to me, to see what drove me to capture it forever and to share the thrill that I felt at that time.

Gareth Jones, "Heaven Sent," 2017, Unison Colour pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 50x50cm. Sold. A particular favourite of mine that was selected for the Royal society of Marine Artists Exhibition 2017
Gareth Jones, “Heaven Sent,” 2017, Unison Colour pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 50x50cm. Sold. A particular favourite of mine that was selected for the Royal Society of Marine Artists Exhibition 2017

I’m an outdoors person and nature does a pretty good job in providing inspiration. Portraying water and light in those moments that catch ones’ breath is what I love to paint. Two such pastel paintings were selected for my second visit to the RSMA in late 2017 – Heaven Sent (above) and As Day Begins (below). Both were from reference photographs taken whilst on holiday in Malaysia. I had a feeling of inner peace and a growing confidence that I believe shone through in these works. I was finding my own voice.

Gareth Jones," As Day Begins," 2017, Unison Colour pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 50x50cm. Sold
Gareth Jones,” As Day Begins,” 2017, Unison Colour pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 50x50cm. Sold

The North Norfolk Coast is my favourite part of England by far. With its glorious beaches, quaint old fishing villages, sand dunes, marshes, and a wonderful clarity of light, it is an artist’s dream. Many works were inspired by my time living there such as Blue Dune Shadows, The Ebbing Light, and Dark Waters 1. The latter was selected by Gail for her Pick of the Month in December 2017 which was a huge shot in the arm. I began to really believe in myself for the first time.

Despite being a learner myself, I was holding workshops weekly and I became a pastel evangelist. People were inspired by my new found passion for the medium and the energy that I poured into my demonstrations.

Gareth Jones, "Blue Dune Shadows," 2016, Unison Colour pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 40x40cm. Sold
Gareth Jones, “Blue Dune Shadows,” 2016, Unison Colour pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 40x40cm. Sold

All was going so well….. but then a heart attack, out of the blue, in February 2018, changed things dramatically. After a period of recovery, I followed a strong calling to return to live in my native North Wales. A long break ensued before I picked up the reins again in the Summer of 2019 when I painted Alight. It encapsulates not only the force and vitality of the sea but all of the passion I feel for it. This painting remains a personal favourite.

Gareth Jones, "Alight," 2019, Unison Colour pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 40x60cm. Sold. My return to painting after illness. Discovering that the ability was still there was exhilarating – resulting in this commissioned piece.
Gareth Jones, “Alight,” 2019, Unison Colour pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 40x60cm. Sold. My return to painting after illness. Discovering that the ability was still there was exhilarating – resulting in this commissioned piece.

Imbued with a new sense of contentment, I began to paint my local surroundings that I had never had opportunity to do previously. Living in the beautiful Welsh hills but still only 20 minutes from the sea, I have a wide range of subject matter to paint. A local beach at Gronant and a spectacular sky inspired Blue Sky Thinking which won first prize in the prestigious North Wales Open 2019. 

Gareth Jones, "Blue Sky Thinking," 2019, Unison Colour, Terry Ludwig, and Mount Vision pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 52x62cm. Available. Another work painted in Summer 2019, from a local North Wales beach on a day of spectacular clouds. This won first prize in the North Wales Open Art competition, my first ever entry.
Gareth Jones, “Blue Sky Thinking,” 2019, Unison Colour, Terry Ludwig, and Mount Vision pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 52x62cm. Available. Another work painted in Summer 2019, from a local North Wales beach on a day of spectacular clouds. This won first prize in the North Wales Open Art competition, my first ever entry.

Landscapes are appealing to me more and more and I flit from coast to countryside as the mood takes me. ‘Kissed by Winter’ is an example of one of these landscapes.

Gareth Jones, "Kissed by Winter," 2020, Unison and Mount Vision pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 40x40cm. Available. The views from my village here in Wales are such an inspiration. This was my first attempt at a snowscape.
Gareth Jones, “Kissed by Winter,” 2020, Unison and Mount Vision pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 40x40cm. Available. The views from my village here in Wales are such an inspiration. This was my first attempt at a snowscape.

I was very fortunate to travel to Pangkor Lau in Malaysia this year, weeks before the pandemic, where warm translucent waters provided the inspiration for recent work. Wall of Light and A Ray of Hope were both voted into the top 15% of entries in the FASO Boldbrush online competition in successive months.

Gareth Jones, "Wall of Light," 2020, Unison Colour and Mount Vision pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 30x50cm. Available. My first entry into the FASO Bold Brush global art competition resulted in this being voted as one of the top 15% of entries.
Gareth Jones, “Wall of Light,” 2020, Unison Colour and Mount Vision pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 30x50cm. Available. My first entry into the FASO Bold Brush global art competition resulted in this being voted as one of the top 15% of entries.

In recent weeks I have been made an Associate Artist of Unison Colour Pastels which is a massive personal honour. To join the ranks of so many dazzling stars of the international pastel community (including Gail of course!) is both humbling and exhilarating. It also shows that with a modicum of talent, a little luck, and finding the right medium – it’s never too late!

PROCESS

I am primarily a studio artist, which is driven partly by the time constraints of being a house husband. I had only just begun to paint en plein air prior to falling ill. I now frequently sketch outside. The ability to draw is essential in my opinion. I like to complete pencil or pen studies and thumbnails of options for composition. I also do colour studies with NuPastel and wash.

Gareth Jones, Pastel pencil sketches of Norfolk village scenes, 2016
Gareth Jones, Pastel pencil sketches of Norfolk village scenes, 2016
Gareth Jones, NuPastel and wash sketch of Holkham dunes in Norfolk, en plein air 2017
Gareth Jones, NuPastel and wash sketch of Holkham dunes in Norfolk, en plein air 2017

I also believe the years of working with the basic principles of colour, layout, balance, and emphasis have given me a significant advantage in the ability to identify what would make a good painting and to quickly realise its potential. I take photographs with my iPhone constantly wherever I go and I only ever work from my own reference images. It is a key part of my creative process. I have usually earmarked a location in several conditions of light previously, and I sense instantly what will translate into a successful painting. 

Gareth Jones, "Shadows on a Swollen Stream," 2019, Unison and Terry Ludwig pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 38x38cm. Sold
Gareth Jones, “Shadows on a Swollen Stream,” 2019, Unison and Terry Ludwig pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 38x38cm. Sold

I don’t slavishly copy photographs but I love the detail and the fleeting, subtle shifts of light that often set a subject apart. Direct observation, sketches, and stored mental images all combine and filter through to the final piece. I see potential wherever I go, but the need to be emotionally connected to the subject – whether it’s the bond I formed with the sea or places that I love – is essential.

Gareth Jones, sketches for "In Pastures Green"
Gareth Jones, sketches for “In Pastures Green”
Gareth Jones, "In Pastures Green." The start.
Gareth Jones, “In Pastures Green.” The start.
Gareth Jones, "In Pastures Green." Building the painting
Gareth Jones, “In Pastures Green.” Building the painting
Gareth Jones, "In Pastures Green," 2020, Unison, Terry Ludwig, and Girault pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 32x32cm. Available
Gareth Jones, “In Pastures Green,” 2020, Unison, Terry Ludwig, and Girault pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 32x32cm. Available

My preferred combination of materials remains Unison Colour pastels on Sennelier LaCarte pastelcard. Unison pastels have the perfect degree of firmness for me. I love Terry Ludwigs and Mount Vision too, and I have tried various combinations of substrates, UART400, Pastelmat etc. I have recently added a set of the Girault greys which I’m really enjoying. It’s fascinating to uncover the unique characteristics of different brands. From lessons learned, I encourage my workshop students to invest in the finest materials that their budgets permit.

Working on La Carte prohibits underpainting and was a factor in not rushing into painting en plein air. I have barely explored the advantages of underpainting and have recently started to experiment on UART again. 

I select a surface colour to reflect the overall mood of the intended subject. I sketch in a rough outline or use anchor points and, working with the flat edge of the pastels, block in a rough of the entire image to establish the composition and overall values. I will then do a second pass, usually working from dark to light to refine the image. A third or fourth pass usually results in being satisfied with the final piece. 

I apply the same process to seascapes, blocking in the whole image to achieve the essence of the piece, composition, and values, before refining the image in stages.

Gareth Jones, "Breaking Glass." The start
Gareth Jones, “Breaking Glass.” The start
Gareth Jones, "Breaking Glass." Building the piece.
Gareth Jones, “Breaking Glass.” Building the piece.
Gareth Jones, "Breaking Glass." The piece develops.
Gareth Jones, “Breaking Glass.” The piece develops.
Gareth Jones, "Breaking Glass," 2019, Unison, Terry Ludwig, and Girault pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 35x65cm. Sold
Gareth Jones, “Breaking Glass,” 2019, Unison, Terry Ludwig, and Girault pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 35x65cm. Sold

I rarely blend and prefer to layer in stages. I never use fixative at any point in my process. I work very quickly and mostly on one painting at a time although I pin up several works around the studio and live with them for a spell before calling them finished. I will often return to a painting that I had dismissed and see that all it needed was a fresh set of eyes and a few tweaks. This is what happened in ‘The Promise Ahead’.

Gareth Jones, "The Promise Ahead," 2020, Unison Colour, Terry Ludwig, and Girault pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 32x32cm. Available
Gareth Jones, “The Promise Ahead,” 2020, Unison Colour, Terry Ludwig, and Girault pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastelcard, 32x32cm. Available
SUMMARY

I would say in truth, that I think I am writing this article a little prematurely, as I still feel very much the novice in the world of pastel painting. There is so much to learn but I am very content with the progress made to date and, health permitting, I feel there is so much more to come.

So I guess the question I posed to myself the day I stood in that gallery all those years ago ‘Could I ever produce something like that?’ has finally been answered, and without doubt soft pastel was the key to unlocking that potential.

*****

Well! Are you as impressed as I am at how far in pastels Gareth Jones has come from his first-ever pastel in 2014??

Let us know what you think about Gareth’s journey – can you relate or are you gobsmacked?? Or how about sharing your favourite piece? We look forward to your comments and any questions you may have.

Thanks for being here!

Until next time,

~ Gail

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Comments

64 thoughts on “Gareth Jones – Unlocking Potential Through Pastels”

  1. Gareth’s work is amazing!! Thanks for sharing! It would be great to have a demo or virtual class with either of you! I just retired two years ago and this past year have started to paint again. I’m soaking up as much as I can so many wonderful artists in this world!

    1. So glad you enjoyed Gareth’s post Beverly. And yes, totally agree with you about his work. Thanks for your exuberant response!

      I can feel your enthusiasm for your art journey – Wonderful!! You may want to consider joining my IGNITE! membership when it reopens. You can get on the waitlist (no commitment when you do) by clicking here. You may also be interested in my Pastels101 course… I’ll let Gareth tell you about his offerings 😀

    2. Thank you so much Beverly! Enjoy your new found painting time. I do have plans for on-line teaching but have been so busy with two upcoming exhibitions to fully embrace it as yet. Hopefully soon!

  2. I really enjoyed this article by Gareth, I met him a couple of years ago and what a smashing bloke! I don’t like people with egos, but Gareth is so down to earth, and very enthusiastic, I wished we lived closer to each other! His Seascape work is particularly glorious, I live by the coast, but can’t paint seascapes like him!

    1. I haven’t met Gareth but that’s exactly the way he strikes me Keith – down to earth with so little ego around his fabulous work. Thanks for sharing so enthusiastically your own personal connection with Gareth 😀

    2. Hi Keith, thanks for your kind comments! It was a total pleasure to meet you at my show in Yorkshire and to see your super work regularly on social media. Keep at those seascapes, they’re excellent! Best wishes.

    1. Hah hah Michele. Well I think you can tell Gareth has been on my radar for some time. Just had to find the perfect moment to feature him (and fingers crossed that he would say YES to my invitation!).
      And I second all you’ve said!!

    2. Michele, you have always been so encouraging and I’m so pleased we have become such good friends through the ups and downs of our lives. x

  3. I enjoyed reading Gareth’s journey, his paintings are amazing. My favourite is ‘Alight’. The colours used to make the waves transparent are perfect.

    1. Thank you Cathy! I’m so pleased you like my work and ‘Alight’ in particular. I was lucky that it sold before it was even finished. Best wishes.

  4. Really enjoyed Gareth’s story and his sea paintings are extraordinary! So alive, and how does he create such a ‘wet’ image with such a dry medium as pastel?? Very amazing!

    1. Ginette, that’s exactly my question – how does he do that?! Thanks for bringing this ability of Gareth’s to our attention. He deals with values and colour choices so extraordinarily well.

    2. Hi Ginette. People have said the same thing previously… it is a strange contradiction isn’t it! I’m just fortunate that I am able to ‘read’ water I guess. It’s the biggest compliment to me when someone feels the wetness of the subject. Thank you!

  5. Thank you Gail and Gareth for such a wonderful blog! Love your work Gareth. I also enjoy doing photorealism. I’m afraid I’m a bit of a slave to details. I would like to do looser work and improve my skills with the pastel sticks, which Gail is helping me with.
    I’ve enjoyed your journey Gareth. It felt like you were speaking straight from your heart. In Pastures Green is a favourite as is many of your seascapes, which look extremely hard to do. I haven’t tried one yet!
    May you continue your progress and success Gareth and stay in good health. Looking forward to seeing more of your beautiful creations! 😁😁😁

    1. So glad you enjoyed Gareth’s guest post Ed. And thank you for your from-the-heart response!
      And by the way, love that you are finding a new path in your work and delighted to be of help 😀

    2. Ed, thank you for all of those wonderful comments! I’m so pleased you like ‘In Pastures Green’ as the location is literally on my doorstep. I found seascapes easier but I’m equally enjoying landscapes, particularly those with an emotional connection. My work seems pretty ‘tight’ when reproduced on social media but is actually quite loose in reality. Finding the balance that suits takes time… but you’ll get there! Good luck.

    1. Thank you Jill…. find your inspiration wherever you are! You only have to look at Gail’s work to see that wonderful art can be inspired by such diverse subjects.

  6. I have had the great good luck to know Gareth and attend his workshops. I came to pastels in 2013 but was never really pleased with the work I produced. Then I met Gareth at Norfolk Open Studios and, inspired by his beautiful painting of the sea, I asked if he would do some demonstrations for our Art group. He agreed and is such an inspirational teacher as well as a very gifted artist. I have learned so much about pastel painting and am quite pleased with some of my work now.

    1. Ohhhhhh you are lucky indeed Rita! Love that you shared your own connection with this inspiring artist. And i’m happy to hear that you are pleased with some of your work. It’s difficult for some of us to admit our pleasure with our own creations: We tend to be such critics of our own work!!

    2. Thank you Rita! I loved teaching your group and you were undoubtedly my star pupil! You are very talented and grew in confidence so much during our lessons… you must keep pastelling! Thank you!

  7. Gail, thanks so much for inviting Gareth! And Gareth, thank you so much for sharing your art journey! I have admired your work for some time now and was interested to learn how happy you have been since you switched over to pastels. I really enjoyed this article.

    1. You are so welcome Wendy – it was definitely my pleasure to have Gareth as a guest! So glad you enjoyed hearing about his journey. And aren’t we the lucky ones that Gareth discovered pastels?!

    1. Ahhh Ruth, you are one of those lucky people to know Gareth in person!! And how wonderful to gain some more insights into his life and being. And I love how you end….”with much more to come.” Yes!!

    2. Ruth, thank you… I remember our first meeting at my demo in Wymondham and I was so thrilled to meet you… I’m so pleased we have become good friends with a shared passion! Take care.

  8. Amazing! Great place Wales, one of the places we felt quite at home. It clearly raised a great artist. I am looking forward to spending more time digesting these glorious visions and reading. Will be introducing my brother to his work as well. Thank you so much!

    1. Ah Wales, I look forward to one day getting to know this place better. And what a glorious taste through the eyes of this Welsh son! Garth’s guest post is here for you to return to and enjoy anytime Priscilla! Curious about your introduction of Gareth’s work to your brother. Does your brother work in pastels? paint seacoasts? need a Gareth-type of inspiration? Feel free to expand if you wish.

      1. Gail, having finally caught up with replies, I wanted to express my sincere gratitude to you for this opportunity to tell my story and to share my work.
        If you are ever visiting Wales, I hope I’m here to meet you and to show you why it inspires me so much.
        Thank you.

        1. Not so fast Gareth! There are more to come 😀
          And my thanks to you for accepting the invitation and being so willing to share your story!
          When I’m in the UK (we travel is opened up again), I will track you down hah hah. And best of all will be to visit you in Wales boyo.

      2. We grew up on Aquidneck Island. He spends a lot of time in and on the cliffs swimming, fishing and walking. He takes a lot of photos for my use as I no longer live there. Our joke is that all his photos have rocks and water! He is a great supporter of my work and careful critic. He has talked about jumping in with acrylics. Hoping this will do it!

      3. My brother still lives on the island we grew up on. He has fished, and swam off the coast, walked biked and photographed it. He often takes photos for me. He is also one of my critics, a very observant and helpful one :). We share found artists as well. He has mentioned wanting to try acrylics at some point but life… I have to write down my friend’s family name that has a home on Salt Spring, I hope to visit there someday.

        1. OH how wonderful to share so much with your brother and that he can offer you useful feedback on your artwork. I hope you may persuade him to give his inclination towards acrylics a try.
          And I am definitely curious about the Salt Spring island connection!

    2. Thank you for such kind words Priscilla! I’m biased of course but, despite the rain, it’s a beautiful country! So pleased you like my work, hope your brother does too!

  9. Lovely article Gail, I have been following Gareth for a while now on Facebook and love his work. I can relate to so much in his article. Especially his love of the sea. (I live just a bit South of Gareth in Cornwall)

    1. Roger, so glad you enjoyed and connected to Gareth’s article.

      And ohhh, Cornwall! One of these days, I hope to teach a workshop in your neck of the woods!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your journey, Gareth, and Gail, for providing this opportunity to become acquainted with Gareth’s work! I am truly awestruck by its beauty and am so inspired. What a treat is was to see his paintings and hear about his story! Currently a novice starting out in pastel later in life from a totally different world of experience, I found encouragement; not that I expect to become anywhere near this accomplished, but that maybe I can express some of the joy evoked by nature- especially the majesty of the ocean. I believe the process of creating is joyful in itself. I hope maybe to have the opportunity to learn from both of you in time! Many wishes for good health and continued creativity, Gareth!

    1. Ohhhh Diane, I love to hear that you have been inspired on your own journey by hearing Gareth’s. And you are soooo right about the joy that creating brings. Really, I think that the process, the act of art-making, is the place our soul is happiest. It is the place where all time stops and we are completely in the moment.

      I look forward to hearing how your own art journey goes 😀

    2. Diane, thank you SO much for these words. It really is never too late, and if you alone take pleasure in the process, then it’s all worthwhile. Art and nature saved me from a very dark place and I feel I am repaying them somehow.
      Good luck with all you do!

  11. Thanks for another wonderful pastel artist guest blog, Gail! I love to hear about the creative journey and inspiration of artists. Gareth’s paintings are beautiful. I especially love the way he achieves the transparency in the waves of his seascapes. I also appreciate the way he captures his clouds and sky. He makes it look simple, but having struggled with clouds and the sky myself, I know how difficult they are. Inspiring!

    1. I’m with you Mary Ellen! I find it fascinating to hear how artists begin their journeys and where the road takes them, including the many detours that may occur in life. Looking back and seeing the path we’ve taken is easy but sometims surprising!
      And yes, Gareth has an amazing ability to translate pastel into the illusion of light and water! Thanks too for bringing out attention to his ability to do the same with air and vapour ie clouds!! It’s always good when you yourself have tried a subject and know just how dargon difficult it is!

    2. Thank you very much Mary! Water was a daunting task initially but I must confess to dreading painting clouds for years…. they always loved so stiff in acrylic… but again, it was pastel that transformed my ability to render them convincingly. Best wishes.

  12. I have admired Gareth’s incredible skill with pastel for a few years now, ever since I discovered his work on Facebook. This is one of the most interesting articles I have ever read. It was so interesting to see his work using a different medium (i.e. ‘Sea Holly’ and ‘Green Window’ in acrylic). I relate strongly to how he felt when trying pastel for the first time. Well done Gareth, and thanks Gayle for enabling us to discover more about this talented pastel artist.

    1. Lynda, I too found it so interesting to see Gareth’s work in acrylic prior to his discovery of soft pastels. You can how he took is design ability and his knowledge of colour and value, shape and edge, into the pastel world.
      And I too know that feeling of trying pastels for the first time. Love at first stroke!

    2. Lynda…. you were one of the idols I referred to in the blog, so your words are very special to me, thank you so much! I’m just so pleased to be able to share this platform with incredible pastelists as yourself and Gail. Thank you!!

  13. I am instantly captivated with all your work, Gareth, because I love earth, land and sea. I too found you on social media. I have no favorites except all of them, yet the light, energy, weight and motion of the sea that you ‘easily’ capture always moves me. I am always happy to see your work. Thanks.

  14. Thank you, Gareth, for sharing your artistic history. It is encouraging to see your work through the years evolve into the lovely and compelling pastel work now.
    Also, thank you for sharing your process. I have been taught from the beginning to use an underpainting, so it’s second nature to me now, and I loved seeing your first layer.
    I too live on the coast – Oregon USA – and I have been intimidated to paint just the ocean and that vast sky. I’ve always felt there should be a boat, or people, or a distant building/lighthouse in the painting. I’m intrigued, and feel challenged, now, to approach my wonderful ocean.

    1. Ahhh Liz, I’m so glad you enjoyed Gareth’s post and are inspired, through it, to tackle the beautiful ocean. I look forward to seeing what emerges from your hand and with your own unique take on it.

  15. Wow, I am so taken by the article and Gareth’s work! It was a pleasure and inspirational. I am most struck, I think, by “Alight”. It does not surprise me that this powerful piece was after the crashing wave of a heart attack. I feel that I see it in the work. I cannot help but take notice. And I suspect there is something of that in the experience of the artist having had this abrupt interruption of daily living.

    Again, I so enjoyed reading this article and seeing Gareth’s work and process. Again, WOW!

    1. Mary Jo, I love that you’ve made a connection between the artwork and Gareth’s experience of the heart attack. I look forward to his take on this idea!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post so much!!

    2. Mary Jo, thank you for your very kind comments!
      Sorry for such a late reply, I’ve been away from home and way behind with social media!
      I wasn’t really conscious of the effect of my trauma when I painted ‘Alight’ – only of the pent up energy and urge to express myself again. I think the excitement of realising that I still had ‘it’ after such a long lay off shine through!

  16. Gareth and I have been facebook friends for a while now, and we often make jokes about living in Norfolk….him, in Norfolk, UK and me in Norfolk, VA USA. One of the best seascape artists I’ve ever seen….but until seeing this post, had NO idea he’d only been doing pastels for a bit over 5 years!! What an incredible artist and personality. Thoroughly enjoyed this post…..what an inspiration!!!
    Thanks, Gail and Gareth….

    1. That’s funny Curt – two Norfolk artists on different continents!! 😀
      And isn’t that just CRAZY how short a time Gareth has been using soft pastels??!! Inspirational for sure.
      Thanks for dropping by.

    2. Curtis, your comments are so warmly received, thank you!
      There are certain people you meet on social media that you just know would become great friends in reality – you are certainly one of them! You are a great artist and personality yourself and I’m honoured to be your friend! Keep well.

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Gail Sibley

Artist. Blogger. Teacher.

My love of pastel and the enjoyment I receive from teaching about pastel inspired the creation of this blog. It has tips, reviews, some opinions:), and all manner of information regarding their use through the years – old and new. Please enjoy!

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