Our members’ meeting for May was well attended via Zoom, with over 40 people watching. Everyone was looking forward to Val Watt’s pastel demo.
The meeting was opened by SASA president, Liz Pearson, who welcomed new members and council member and thanked those involved with videoing and presenting our Zoom meetings. She also sent condolences to friends and family of Dale Elliot, a long-time SASA member, who sadly passed away a week ago.
Val began her presentation by showing us all the materials she uses, starting with the pastels themselves, pastels being the closest medium one can get to pure pigment. The softest and most intense colour comes from pan pastels, which are applied with a chamois-covered applicator and used for covering large areas.
She then went through all sorts of different pastels and pastel pencils, the softer of which have more pigment and less binder. As the binder increases, the pigment decreases, which give a lighter, less intense colour and these are usually the pastels used underneath the softer ones. She uses the “arm test” to check the “power” of each pastel.
Next we saw some of the many different papers available, from sanded, which has more tooth and can hold more layers, through to much smoother papers which are not as durable…..and for storage and shipping, a sheet of tracing paper is used to prevent smudging.
Val began her portrait by drawing the face with a hard, light pastel pencil, then adding yellow to place the highlights. She carefully chose her colours for lights, darks and mid tones before she began mapping out her portrait, going from hardest to softest and blending with a harder pastel, rather than a finger.
She splashed alcohol on the pastel to make interesting texture and carried on on top of that, darkening and lightening as she went, correcting drawing and tone, often using colours one would never think of using in a portrait.
It was fascinating to watch the portrait emerge.
Thank you Val, for presenting your process to us and for answering all our questions. If you’re interested in attending one of Val’s workshops, her next one will be held sometime in July.