AT FORMBY POINT – PASTEL PAINTINGS

Another reworked image, this time of the beach at Formby, and the reason for this is that I am also preparing for a pastel workshop, along with some demos.

A lady, from a local art club had seen a beach pastel on my website and asked whether I could do that as a demo. Despite never having demonstrated pastel before, I accepted the booking. I wouldnt even call myself a pastelist. I just started using them in life sessions. I found you get form and colour down very quickly with pastels. From there I used them in my landscapes.

However, I use a different style with life work than with landscapes and seascapes. With the latter I blend a lot, probably because I am working flatter, rather than on an easel in a life session.

After that surprise booking, I received two more requests for pastel demos and one for a pastel workshop. I dont know if there has been some culling of the pastel fraternity around here, leading to a lack of choice and then on to me, or maybe people just talk amongst themselves.

So I have been investigating possible subjects. I have settled for the one above. I did try a couple of others, one of them is below:

This is another old subject, done before in watercolours. I feel, though, that with watercolours, I got a much subtler finish and this was a reason why I am selecting the first one for the demos and workshop. The first demo is in October.

Also, by doing these trial pieces, I get a painting that I can put in to one of my upcoming exhibitions. A little icing on the cake.

Other beach scenes and seascapes are avilable for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

LIGHT UP THE MODEL – PASTEL AND ACRYLIC PAINTING

For me how light interacts with a subject is important. Initially, faced with this pose I saw very little that gripped me. Just sitting the model on a stool like this induces a very boring pose. I walked all around the model getting more despondent as I went and it was only when I went around the rear that I saw the light on his back. It wasnt much, but enough to develop the form of the body with a few highlights.

Later, another pose was struck, but here there was no compelling light and shadow to raise any interest, so I finished up withis this rather flat rendition in acrylics.

It’s good practice – but that’s about all.

Last Saturday I revisited an old club in Liverpool ( the second oldest in the country). I hadnt been there since well before covid. I gave up as they had moved into a small, dark studio where you couldnt dispose of paint. My complaints were ignored so I voted with my feet.

I had heard that they had moved to a different room in the same building, so I decided to give it a try. The light was a bit better, contra jour, which I like, and the room bigger, though disposing of paint is still an issue. I certainly dont want to take acrylic brushes home to find them brick hard?

On this occasion I took my pastels just to keep the peace..

Around here many people do line drawings, so cast and form shadows arent that relevant, but there must come a time when they want to add shadow. It seems that this time hasn’t yet arrived.

Life paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

MORE LIFE SESSIONS – PASTEL AND ACRYLIC

Though still not doing as much life drawing as I did pre-covid I am beginning to attend a few more sessions of late, but on an irregular basis. Here are samples from three recent visits.

This one above was in acrylic which I felt could have been made a bit more dynamic with injections of colour and variations of brush stroke.

And above, I did push the colour a bit more here, but upon reflection it could have been brought into the figure to better effect. Especially to tone down the orange – she looks like a spray tan victim. Also, the upper left arm appears a bit on the short side – but those are the oversights you can make when working against the clock. Hopefully, next time you wont repeat those mistakes, though, in any case, they are easily corrected.

Other life painting is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

DAYBREAK ALONG THE COASTAL PATH – PASTEL PAINTING

Another sunrise painting, this time in pastel.

Last week I was out on the coastal path that runs from Southport, where I live, down to Liverpool and took some photos. I thought that the scene would look good in pastel. I dont normally go outside with pastels as my hands get messy when I use them and then the painting gets contaminated. For this reason I wash my hands regularly when I am doing a painting like this. As there arent any washbasins on the walk I sketched something in watercolour.

This sketch, below, was painted feet from where the pastel looks out, but in a slightly different direction. It doesnt have the same punch as the pastel, but I thought I’d show it anyway.

For this I sat just off the path and watched as the joggers shambled by, oblivious to my presence.

Other landscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

CAUGHT, GREEN HANDED – PASTEL PAINTING

In my previous post I described sitting in the morning sun painting the trees last Tuesday. Well, as I worked, I noticed movement in the field and a large hare came towards me. Unfortunately as I fumbled for my camera it seemed to get wind of me and moved away across the fields. In the end I managed to get a few shots which I turned into a pastel painting.

Other animal paintings are available on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

A DAY OF LIFE – VARIOUS MEDIA

Yesterday I went to a day life session with a local group. It was a small group -there were only three of us, which was disappointing for the organiser. If it had been me running it, I would have called it off. I remember, a few years ago, being barely able to get into the studio on a similar session – in fact, on that occasion I just came home, as being unable to move around in an all day session would just frustrate me. As for the session. it’s good getting back to more frequent life drawing, but I do notice I start in a rush and the basics get overlooked. This one in acrylics, below, required me to rework the whole head area as, on applying the paint, things didn’t actually conform with reality. Making corrections takes longer than taking a bit more time to get it right first time, and then with the time limit, other things get overlooked.

Still, that’s the nature of the game, making quick decisions in the timeframe allowed. It certainly sharpens you. Hopefully, making you better next time.

Other life painting is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

RIGID AND CHAIR BOUND – PASTEL AND PENCIL SKETCHES

Whilst manning a pop-up gallery recently, a painter I know came in and reminded me about a group we used to paint with. I hadnt been to that group since before Covid ( though I had heard that they were secretly running throughout the epidemic – but that’s another story). Also, since Covid they had, for various reasons, started meeting earlier, which makes it more awkward for me to attend. Anyway, last Wednesday I forsook my evening meal and made the effort to attend.

I’m glad I did. I enjoyed the evening, though there wasnt any direction to the model and we were presented, throughout the evening, to my eye, with various versions of someone sitting naked on a bus . The lighting was good, though, but I did have to prevent the organiser turning on all the lights and ruining its effect.

Afterwards, looking back over some earlier pre-covid drawings, what did I see? Similar seated poses, just different models – a bit like the other sketches I did on the night, shown below. Despite these moans, I will try and get back there as we have lost one life group around here completely and I am not getting much figurative practice these days.

Life and figure paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

CLIMBING TO THE TOP OF THE DUNE – PASTEL PAINTING

Undeterred by the sand flowing away from under your feet, you struggle on, brushing past the coarse marram grass and then glimpse sight of the sea. Now, you realise you’ve reached your objective.

This is the last of the short series of beach pastels I have been doing of late. All used the technique of underpainting with gouache and then overworking with pastel. I was trying to get a feeling of intimacy with this one, compared to the others which had a more panoramic detachment.

Other beach paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

EVENING ON BIRKDALE DUNES – PASTEL PAINTING

You may recall in the post before last the gloomy vista of rain clouds about to come over Birkdale beach – and I said it was part of a series, so here is the next one, a contrasting evening on the beach, with the sun hanging low and the light shimmering off the wet sands in the distance. I did this type of evening view in watercolour and it sold a year or two back, so I thought that I would try a version in pastels, placing tonal washes down in gouache first and then working over them in pastel as I had in my earlier pastel.

Mystery encroaches at this hour. The low light casts shadows and darkens ravines between marram covered dunes. Tracks of past beachgoers get highlighted by a glow on the raised edges that is then underscored by the shadow of the depression. Wisps of grass, catch the low sun and seem to glow against shadowed inclines. Soon the mystery will be complete.

Other beach scenes are available on my website for sale: grahammcquadefineart.com

A STORM BREAKS OVER BIRKDALE BEACH – PASTEL PAINTING

I am working on a small series of local beach scenes in pastel. It gives me an opportunity to try out the use of gouache to quickly block in masses of light and shade. Darker passages can take a lot of pastel to build up and painting in a mixture of colours that can be added to with pastel seems to give a fresher result. I have done it with acrylic before, but I felt gouache will retain a better tooth to the paper.

On the beach, the marram grass covered dunes give way to lonely wet sands stretching way out to the breaking waves, almost imperceptible, in the distance. Above, dark clouds gather across the Irish sea in readiness to sweep in eastwards, lashing the country with the moisture picked up when crossing the Atlantic.

It is a good place to walk, in waterproof boots, on a windswept days past wading birds, to view what flotsam the preceding tide has deposited on the wet sand. Broken branches, like reaching limbs, festooned with flags of algae and black jewels of coal scoured from the Welsh coast dot the sand like pebbles.

Other seascapes and beach scenes are available on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com