The magic of soft pastel

Sheep, hillside, by Aleda O’Connor. Soft pastel on board. 16″ x 20″

Though I’ve been using oil pastel for almost 20 years, soft pastels aren’t part of my regular kit. So when I noticed a six-class session at the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH) taught by pastel artist Clarence Porter, I jumped at the opportunity to experiment. I first saw his exquisite cityscapes of the Hamilton skyline in the spring of 2012 and loved them.

The class was as much fun as Clarence’s colourful paintings. He led us through a variety of techniques and concepts: using sponges to apply and blend colour; the effect of alcohol as a blending/fixing medium; the differences between hard, soft and pan pastels; tips on using a variety of tools from pencils and erasers to palette knives. We experimented with several different surfaces, including paper and board prepared with Golden Pastel Ground, which I also use as a base for oil pastel.

My painting, Sheep, hillside was completed during the class.  Clarence Porter will be teaching another pastel class from March 24 to May 5 2013, at the AGH.

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