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Tony Jackson, "Seascape in pastels"
Friday 9 October 2015

Visit him at www.spanglefish.com/TonysPaintings - Back to History Page

Tony trained at the Bath Academy of Art. He took early retirement from teaching so he could get the time to concentrate on actual painting.

He works only about 15% of the time in pastel (much more in acrylic). But his style of working suits any medium that allows him to build paintings up and change his mind as he goes along. Pastel in particular is good for both drawing and painting. Needless to say, watercolour is not his favourite!

He has made several visits to India. These inspired many of the pastel paintings he had brought as examples of his work.
. .

Marine Point in Cornwall
I'm afraid I failed to change my camera settings to take the image from his screen - strange colour cast.
Like many artists now, Tony no longer works from paper prints of his photos - the tablet computer can easily be held in the hand and lets you zoom in and out to get the detail you want.

He seems very laid back about materials. The very dark blue paper he was using was a mounting paper from Hobbycraft. Its main selling point seemed to be that it came in convenient sheets. But he also warned that you couldn't use cheap stuff like they use in schools because the colours are too fugitive.
The pastels, too:
Conté (hard, for small paintings and portraits);
Inscribe (good price, medium hardness)
Unison and Rembrandt (really soft, less "him")
But all were there and all were used!
"Dont be too finnicky". Use a decent sized piece of paper (why do people buy those silly little A4 pads of pastel paper?). Be reckless (although he admitted he is a bit more reckless in demos, just to drive the point home). "Going wrong is necessary"

He started by trying to find the main lines of the picture - lots of strokes with light brown Conté, gradually homing in on a good composition.

Then start covering big areas with colour - they don't have to be the right greens or blues yet because you are still looking for the feel of the painting.
As part of your "recklessness", remember you shouldn't be a slave to the photo. Photos tell lies and you can improve upon them.

We were surprised that he produced the hair spray can as early as this - before coffee. Use the cheapest you can get (no unwanted oils) - Tesco value perhaps.. It seals the pastel to the paper leaving a firm surface for subsequent layers. This is particularly important if you have forgotten that hard pastel will not take on soft. Yes it affects the colours, making lighter ones more transparent, but who cares as long as you don't use it at the end.
As Tony worked through the rest of the demo he was (a) adding lots of small marks - the nearer the end the smaller the marks - and (b) adjusting the colour of quite large areas. This was accompanied by a stream of "interesting comments"

He would normally have more than one picture on the go at a time.
Paint a complete picture, not a series of detailed bits - if you concentrate on detail you forget how the whole thing looks
Go away and come back later with a fresh eye. A demo is artificial - at home he would be breaking off every 30 minutes
Avoid pure white
The direction of the marks should tell you about the layout of rocks etc.
Don't bother much about foreground detail - keep the drama where you need it
The sweep of the grass is the main line of the picture
Add a touch of red into the greens and use dark blue in the shadows and yellow in the sun
Shadows are impotant shapes
Dont be a slave to "how to paint" books Don't use fixative to stop pastel falling off the finished painting - put a piece of smooth paper over it and rub it in.
. . . until you reach the point where either you run out of time
or you feel that nothing more needs changing.
Thanks Tony for a most interesting evening.

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