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Pastel demonstration by Russ Calver
24 September 2004

Scroll down for the demo. See more of his work at www.artprofile.co.uk
Calver Horses 1 Russ Calver's demonstration was based on a photograph of a mare and foal and a preparatory watercolour sketch. He stressed the importance of proper preparation and a measure of stamina. If you are going to work from photographs, use ones you have taken yourself, preferably of a subject that you have had the time to get to know. He suggested that a roll of film was not unreasonable for one painting but that you should still take notes at the scene.
He was not a believer in classes - you learn by doing, not by reading, watching or being told - and spoke rather disparagingly about those of us who barely do any painting between classes. "Professional golfers practice - amateurs only play rounds of golf". Don't try to be good at everything - accept that you will be better in some contexts than in others.
Calver Horses 2 Materials also need consideration and/or care. He prefers to work with soft pastels on the smoother side of a mid-tone pastel paper (warm or cool, as needed) . Brown wrapping paper is usable in emergency. Pastels must be stored in a dry place (car-boot condensation can totally destroy them). Putty rubber is a life-saver and charcoal is excellent for the initial drawing because it is so easy to rub out. A mirror is good for checking composition.

Amonst others, he recommended Delaney & Smith, 01253 348612 for low-cost quality printing, brochures etc and "Ready Made Picture Frames", 01256 354774
Calver Horses 3 The bounds of the picture were very lightly "charcoaled" in, starting with straight lines but gradually hinting at the shapes of the areas of interest, many-times-adjusted, and rough ovals (for haunches etc.). Just as much as to the subjects themselves, attention, including measurement, needs to be given to the negative shapes . During the demo, analysis of these, and use of the mirror, led to fairly major revision with the putty rubber before firmer lines and some tonal indications were made.
Calver Horses 4 Only then was colour first introduced - in extremely roughly-applied swatches (almost experimantally, as if to establish the colour context before actually going out towards the charcoal outlines). He starts with too-pale or too-bright colours first and then modifies them with much darker ones - resulting in a lovely sheen. Thios won't work if you smudge the colours together. These touches of colour were gradually worked up until the painting was ready for last-minute highlights and some darker edges in Schwan Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencil.
Calver Horses 5 - Calver Horses 6

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