Lesson 1 of 10
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Crummock Water soft pastel painting by Robert Dutton
‘Sun after rain – Crummock Water, Borrowdale, The Lake District’
Unison Colour soft pastels on ‘Sait P500 pastel paper 15 x 18 inches  (38 x 46cm)

You don’t have to ‘go big’ to create impact with pastel paintings. This smaller painting is packed with all the drama and energy that any of my larger paintings for a similar subject (even with different media) would be. The buttery rich layering with Unison colour pastels comes into their own on this very heavily textured support. Hardly any fixative was used, the paper holds a lot of pastel indeed allowing you to intermix pastels easily one into the other to create richly layered effect. The immediacy of pastel and the wonderful Unison Colour range being right at my fingertips without the paraphernalia of mixing colours with other media, was essential for capturing the fleeting dramatic light effects in the painting.

It’s often said that light makes or breaks a landscape painting. I beg to differ. I believe tone does. Contrasts of light and dark alongside all the subtle half tones with lost and found edges ARE the painting.

There is no better way to illuminate these facts than to explore and express paintings full of dramatic skies.  Clouds as transient moving air, holding and releasing moisture which are driven by kinetic energy filter sunlight in the most dramatic and awe inspiring ways.

Soft diffused ‘blanket’ cloud creates magical ethereal effects with light. In contrast, stormy clouds create brooding deep darks and richly saturated tones with dramatic contrasts of light and dark. Rain and wind are fabulous to express in paintings and allow me to personally engage with nature at its best.

Wastwater soft pastel painting by Robert Dutton.
Winter solitude – Wastewater, The Lake District
Unison Colour pastels, Nitram Charcoal, Liquitex and Daler-Rowney acrylic inks and metallic inks on Canson Mi-Tientes ‘touch’ 350gsm pastel paper (Light Blue). 50 x 65cm

Contrasts of light and dark with a limited colour complimentary palette in create the undisputed drama in the scene. Fluid inks in rich saturated and transparent glazes build depth. Unison Colour pastels as Blue Green 2, 9 and 17 together with Blue Violet 9, 10, 12, 17 and 18, Additional 30, Dark 1, 2, 5, 13, 16, 18 19, 23 and 24 together with warmer colours and tones.  Additional 12, 13, Orange 3 and 4, 5 and 6 create textures, blended areas throughout whilst the highlights using Yellow 18, Green 24 and 36, with Blue Violet 7, and Grey 26 and 28 create the sparkle.

The gentle days of Spring and Summer we all have come to affectionately know as ‘fluffy cloud seasons’ create sharp bright landscape colours on warm tranquil and brightly lit days.

Personally I find the heavy greens of the landscape too ‘Blousy in the Summer so look skyward. Global warming has increased much more frequent rainstorms in the Sumner months these days. The positive is that the heavier laden clouds form a real sense of drama in landscape painting.

The sudden atmospheric change in the weather and the fleeting light effect before and just after heavy downpours reveal within the landscape intense colour against the back light of receding dark clouds and create really dramatic effects to express. In the featured mixed media and pastel painting ‘Winter solitude – Wastewater, The Lake District’, this richly layered landscape using a limited colour palette using acrylic inks, charcoal and Unison Colour pastels the sky is plays such an important element in the painting. Without the brilliance in the sky the painting lacks its real impact.


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