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Pastel: 'Autumn, The Hermitage'


This reference photograph illustrates perfectly how pastels can be used for interpreting the autumn landscape. The Terra Cotta 'ground' proved to be really effective for enhancing the 'warm' colours of autumn. Note how the subject has been adjusted with regard to composition, colour, texture and the degree of detail used.



Mount board prepared with white acrylic primer and then two coats of Terra Cotta 'Art Spectrum', 'Colourfix', pastel primer.


'Unison' using a selection of Reds, Red Earths, Yellows, Green Earths, Blues and Blue Violets. At least three tones of each colour are required.

A mid tone purple pastel pencil.


Step One: Drawing Out

A mid tone purple pastel pencil was used for drawing out. Only the minimum amount of information was required, just sufficient to accurately position the farm buildings and main trees.


Step Two: The Block In

I used two, 'light' tones of Blue/Violet for the sky; Two, 'mid' toned Red Earths, together with a 'mid' toned Yellow for the trees; Two 'darker' toned Blue Violet for the shadows, and finally a 'mid' toned Red Earth and a 'light' toned Yellow for the farm buildings.

The sides of the pastels were used to create a variety of flat strokes, taking particular care not to apply too much pastel on the board in the early stages as successive layers will need to be built up as the painting progresses. The tree trunks were drawn in using the end / tip of the pastel.


Step three: Continue The Block In

The 'block in' was continued, by selecting three, further Red Earths for the masses of foliage and branches. Two, 'mid' tone, Green Earth pastels were used for painting the tree trunks and the foliage mass on the extreme right of the painting.

The sky was taken a step further by selecting a very 'light' Yellow, together with the previous sky colours, this time forcing a little more pastel into the surface of the board. This allows the foliage masses to be modelled by using negative painting.


Step Four: Develop The Farm Buildings

The farm buildings were developed further by using the Red Earth pastels already selected, supplemented by a 'light' Grey to be used for the windows and other details. The ends of the pastel sticks need to be used almost exclusively for this step. To achieve fine lines I looked for any sharper edges on the pastels, otherwise, I broke the pastel in half to create the required edge.

Using my finger, I applied a little 'blending' to the foliage masses. When using, a range of pastels of similar colour and tone, 'blending' can be achieved by carefully, 'layering' one pastel into or over another as necessary.


Step Five: Continue The Block In & Add Detail

I continued the 'block in' as described above and at the same time I began to work on the foreground bracken. For these areas I selected three further, Red Earths (one 'darker', for the branches and two 'lighter, for the foliage and bracken), a 'brick' Red and two, 'lighter' Green Earths for the foreground. I used the pastels in a variety of ways, using the flat sides in some areas and the tips in others. To develop the 'lighter' sides of the farmhouse, two further 'light' Greys were used. These 'lighter' areas of the farmhouse form the 'focal' point so I needed to ensure that they worked effectively in terms of the 'crispness' of the drawing and the 'light against dark' tones used.

At this stage I made sure that some of the Terra Cotta 'ground' remains visible.

Step Six: Add Final Detail

This stage concerned dealt with the final 'blocking in' and the completion of the detail. I was careful not to over detail, or make any unnecessary 'marks' around the outside edges of the painting. Over-detailing, 'marks' such as this will distract from the 'focal' point. Probably the most important part of the completion of any painting will be the attention to 'edges'. I looked carefully at the painting to decide which 'edges' were the most important (usually around the 'focal' point), and which 'edges' could be softened, or even lost altogether. Any successful painting relies on a combination of hard, soft and 'lost and found' 'edges'. The final detailing should be concerned with the branches, the texture of the foreground grasses and the farm building itself.

Autumn, The Hermitage

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