Pastel course in Catus

Pastel course in Catus

Day three

The weather still being uncertain we had to accept that it wasn’t going to be possible to work outside. Instead François and I decided to set up an interior scene in the main room downstairs. We bought down the easels and Gabriella posed for us on one of the blue arm chairs in front of the glass doors.

I have done several paintings of the salon and find it constantly interesting as a subject. The terracotta floor tiles reflect the light from outside in the garden and the objects on the coffee table provide interest, placed against the light. I liked the fact that this subject demanded an over-all view, considering the model as part of the whole scene.

model posing for art class.

I asked for an initial sketch in order that each person considered their composition before starting and therefore were clear about the format and size of their paper. It is also relevant to make certain colour decisions at this early stage. Working on a warm, dark toned paper, for instance, can be very satisfying for a ‘contre jour’ subject, such as this.

painting class working in the salon.

One thing that seems to be particularly difficult here is to accept the strength of the tonal contrast: everything outside the window in the garden is lighter than everything inside in the room, even though the light falls strongly on the model’s shoulder and foot and the side of her face. I try to discourage the use of pure black or pure white pastels, and therefore colour equivalents need to be found.

After lunch the sun came out and we were able to take some time out to drink our coffee and relax in the garden.


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Some of the class continued their pictures in the studio after lunch and others chose to paint some small, looser images. For the more experienced pastellistes on the course, it isn’t so much detail and photographic likeness that they are looking for in their work, but rather a freer, expressive style and an individuality in their pastels.

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