PASA - Pastel Artists of South Australia

Demonstration by Helen Stacey at Victor Harbor

Adventures with oil pastels

Guest artist Helen Stacey writes:

It was a great delight to spend time with the pastel artists group in Victor Harbor last Saturday afternoon as we explored ways of working with oil pastel. Two large still life works featuring oil pastel showed the potential of this multimedia approach.  

During the workshop I was very impressed with the way all those exploring the medium of oil pastel combined with turpentine and graphite created such lively experimental works.  

In the initial demo and trial drawing we worked with three oil pastels (3 warm and cool colours) and a soft graphite/lead pencil, mineral turps applied with a bristle brush on photocopy paper.

Simple steps were demonstrated.  Firstly, ways of holding and manipulating the oil pastel and pencil so each person could discover how to have full control of the medium and explore its potential in their own style.  Then there was great excitement when it was revealed that turps, a solvent for graphite and oil pastel, could be brushed on to blend and extend the oil pastel.  Then amazement grew when graphite/lead pencil was applied to shade in darker tones and bring out detail - it gave much deeper, richer tones and enriched the work.  

Then people applied this knowledge in an experimental study of a piece of fruit.  

- first the contour and basic detail of the fruit was drawn using the lightest colour

- then artists used their three colours to build the fruit’s form, observing tonal changes (light and shade), leaving white paper for highlights

- using the bristle brush with turps the oil pastel was blended and extended following the contours of the fruit.  Lighter tones were created by the way the brush with turps softened and dissolved the oil pastel

- then the form was modelled using the graphite /lead pencil to shade in darker tones and surface details 

- on a separate demonstration work I showed how white acrylic paint could be added to areas to emphasise light and to add highlights where needed.

I was so pleased to see the way every one handled their experimental work, asked so many questions - and seemed to enjoy the many stories I told !! 

Thank you to the person who showed us the drawing package from Office Works that included a special graphite stick - all for $22.

We also spoke about the Stationmaster’s Art Gallery at Strathalbyn where groups or individuals can book a room or two or even the whole gallery. It would be wonderful to see the best work the artists in the VH pastel artists group could show at the SMAG in the future. 

 A warm welcome is extended to all members to visit my studio-galley in Strathalbyn - 17 Harriet Street, off North Parade.   Please phone ahead (85 363 069) to make a time to visit and stay for a cuppa.  In November I will be having a re-run of my retrospective exhibition at the Stationmaster’s Art Gallery, HORIZONS.  I’ll send you an invitation later on. 

My best wishes to everyone and thank you for a wonderful afternoon with you all.  





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