Experiment with pastels

On the Fens near Ely

On the Fens near Ely


I was out on the fens between Cambridge and Ely with a painting friend looking for a suitable spot, when we saw a herd of cattle on the edge of the river. As we started to paint they moved slowly away – of course – so it was a matter of remembering and improvising. As it happened they all wandered back  to the exact same spot which was very nice of them. The one or two animals in the water was very reminiscent of JS Cotman’s or Thomas Girtin’s landscapes so I put them in and imagined i was painting in the great tradtion of the Norwich School of watercolourists.  On this occasion I started in a wet-in-wet watercolour wash which dried quickly in the breeze, and then layed over it with soft pastels, fixing it briefly between several applications. I made sure that plenty of the watercolour, particularly in the sky, remained visible. I was pleased with the result, especially since I don’t have more than around 30 hues and since they are all covered in grime it’s not easy to pick out from the ones I do have which stick is best to use. They say putting the sticks of pastels in a tin of rice keeps them clean, but it doesn’t work for me. I think that pastels is a medium that is best suited to the studio on the whole.


~ by noelgarner on April 26, 2009.

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