Exploring oil pastel with the Markham Group of Artists

Thanks very much to Maureen Thompson of the Markham Group of Artists who invited me to lead a full-day beginner workshop on how to use oil pastels.

It can be challenging to work in a new medium, but as one participant observed it is also liberating because it is easier and more fun to take risks when you’re a learner. We began by preparing masonite panels with Golden Acrylic Ground for Pastels.  While they were drying, everyone practiced applying and blending colour as well as mark-making on test sheets of tinted paper coated with pastel ground, before turning their attention to their chosen landscape images for the rest of the day.

Most of us recall working with crayons or coloured pencils as children, an experience that gives artists their starting point.  Colours can be stroked gently into the surface and feathered together to create new transparent blends, almost like tweed, or they can be scrubbed firmly into the surface to create dense opaque shapes – and everything in between. Everyone finds their own unique way to apply colour.  

 As part of today’s process we also looked at the work of two very different artists: Canada’s  A.J Casson whose paintings are notable for a strong sense of design that he used to tame complex landscapes. Later, we looked at a number of exquisite works by the American artist  Wolf Kahn, whose brilliant colour and calligraphic approach to landscape suggest a completely different way to tackle the challenge. 

And here are the results of today’s labour:

Markham Group of Artists Pastel paintings

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