I have used soft pastels to 'paint' with since I was about 12 years old. I remember the first set I got, and I have my first pictures somewhere, because I have all my old sketch books. My sisters and I all had hobbies - my younger sister played various instruments, which cost money, and my older sister was an avid reader, so she was always buying books. Me? I was happy with a scrap of paper and a 3B pencil. I would draw and draw until the pencil was a stub, and my dad would get paper free from school because he was a teacher. I'm sure I've told you this tale before..
Anyway, my parents were always delighted when I would ask for some new art materials, because I think they thought I was neglected compared to my sister. I must interject here that my parents had little money - it's not like they lavished us with extravagant gifts, and my sisters and I always valued anything were were given, be it new or second hand. I'm getting off subject.
My first set of pastels. Right.... so, this morning in the post is the book 'Colour and Light in Oils' by Nicholas Verrall. At the very beginning he says....the first important decision for an artist is which medium to use..... so we need to find the medium that we feel most happy with, the one that offers us the greatest potential to work in a positive, uninhibited way.'
Okay, so he'll never win the Nobel Prize for Literature, but this idea is timely for me because I am tackling colour - a subject I have avoided for a long time and which I'm determined to got to grips with. Choosing to work in a new medium would be taking on too much at once, and I'd be distracted by learning new techniques when I'm trying to learn about colour.
Hence, I am working in soft pastels. I am not an expert in them, let me get this straight from the start. BUT, they hold no fear for me, unlike the tense thrill I get from painting in oils. I can get them out when I have 20 minutes to spare, and pack them away quick when the kids threaten to interfere.
I may write about the paper I'm using, but I haven't got the pad handy so I won't right now. I want to tell you about this picture; it's the view across the road as I stand in my porch, leaning on the window sill (with a cup of sweet white tea). There's a row of trees on a grass verge, with a planted area behind, then the drop down to North Dock, and the mouth of the River Wear and the North Sea beyond. It's quite a simple view, with a lot of sky above which maybe I'll get into later, or maybe not. I like the lollipop trees, and at 7.30 am in the morning they're lit from the left/behind by the cold rising autumn sun.
This is the first of what I hope to be at least a dozen or so paintings of this subject. I was interrupted by the kids toward the end, and when I returned to the porch I decided to leave this one as it was.