We started teaching the oil pastel module a few weeks ago in our Bournemouth painting classes, enabling the students to introduce colour and blending techniques to their art for the first time.
This proved a real eye-opener for some of the pupils who were able to skillfully create paintings with real depth and tone, producing pictures from both still life examples and prints that we provided for the class to work from. We taught them how to paint a piece of fruit (with the leaves still attached), replicating the pores of the fruit and the veins on the leaf by using techniques such as sgraffito.
The following week we then moved onto painting family pets and other animals, again using colourful pastels. This allowed the students to practice their skills at recreating life-like animal fur and feathers, while getting the important artistic details right such as the eyes and overall body outline.
They painted all sorts of different animals and birds ranging from Welsh Border Collies and their own pet cats, to lovebirds, colourful parrots, amusing cows, sea eagles and other birds of prey, mainly in close-up so that they could enhance the facial features, texture and tonal qualities of their artwork.
We also used a variety of different coloured pastel papers including relatively neutral shades, through to deeper reds, various tones of blue and green, and a selection of darker colours including graphite grey and black. These latter shades can be very effective when used with oil pastels, providing great contrast and enabling the artist to replicate light and shade using the positive and negative areas of the paper while making the most of the paper’s tooth to enhance the texture of the finished picture.
All in all these pastel lessons have proved to be very popular with the pupils, with many buying additional pastels and coloured paper so that they can continue practicing at home once the class has finished.
We are now about to start the watercolour lessons, which will doubtless prove just as encouraging.
“Watch this space” as they say!