Australian Fine Artist

Artists in the Round

Barbara McManus (row boats on a river)
Catherine Hamilton (fishing boats at a pier)
Elly Abrat (portrait of a busker playing a flute)
Pamela Pretty (shoreline seascape of Ricketts Pt with a rain storm)
Peter Groom (Lorne lighthouse)

Venue: Pastel Society of Victoria, Australia

PSVA has again lived up to the promise of having new and interesting demonstrations for this year. This one was guaranteed to keep us on our feet – literally as we were to spend the evening watching artists swap work spaces to spend ten minutes on each other’s works to complete five pastel paintings.I wasn’t sure how I was going to write this up to be honest, as I have never been to one of these before. I had a quick look at how everyone had set up their space and decided to just walk around and get about two progress comments for every artist for every ten minute block. So here we go!

To begin with each artist had prepared their work differently and all had different coloured pastel papers and had sketched in using different colours. Everyone had a great mix of pastels and there were at least seven different manufacturers being represented in people’s kits. The preliminary outlines were at differing levels of intricacy plus one was drawn in on the spot just before we began.I started off watching Catherine as she is a very quick and decisive artist, who quickly had the basics of her fishing boats drawn in and some vivid colours blocked in as well. Barbara at this stage was blocking in her shadows, Elly was blocking in all over her work, Peter was working on background areas and Pamela was putting in a lot of bright warm tones to go under what would be laid in later. Back with Catherine she was now blocking in her darks on the boats and water, Barbara was putting in her lightest lights, Peter was now on to drawing in the sea and Elly was on to getting some of her fabrics done.Back to Catherine and she was now on to lights defining edges and working on some of the sky. Barbara was doing similarly with her mid tones, Elly was on to her skin tones and Peter was setting up his horizon. Pam was moving on to getting in some of her rocks in the foreground.

First ten minutes now up! Everyone moved to the right and on to the next workstation.

Artists now spent a minute or two assessing the work they now had to add to. Catherine was very deliberate in selection of pastels to do the job before working, Barbara went straight in with work on shadows, Elly started on highlights on Peter’s lighthouse, Peter  stayed with the lights and then mid tones on storm clouds, Pamela was working on mid tones in the water and the reflections for Catherine’s boats. Catherine was now putting in the masts and other details for Barbara’s row boats.Barbara was now working on the folds in material for the busker, Cathy was working on the windows for the boats, Peter was working on the mid tones in the clouds, Pamela was putting in reflection for Catherine’s boats. Nearing the end of the second ten minutes and subjects were beginning to really take shape.

Second ten minutes up!

Now on their second artwork not their own, more assessing took place. It was interesting to see the difference in approach between artists. The years of experience especially as trainers was showing as well as ability to quickly assess what should be done next in a pastel at any stage.Barbara started putting the trees into Peter’s lighthouse, Elly was doing some serious assessing  of the photo for the seascape and Peter was now on the edges of the fishing boats and forming the hulls. Catherine was putting in some bold swipes of colour for the busker and Barb was adding depth and tone to Peter’s lighthouse.At this point I had an interesting comment made about the approach of al the artists by a viewer. They noted that some were copying the style of the artist whose work they were on and others were taking their own style to the pieces. This made for some interesting viewing of the paintings later.

End of the third ten minutes.

By now Catherine was at the lighthouse and went straight in with big bold shadows. Barbara was working on pulling the sky together, Elly was defining the base of boats and Peter was concentrating on details on the decks of boats. Pam was filling in background colour on the busker. Back with Catherine, she was painting in the foreground features and shadows, Barb had some brilliant features coming out in the sky of the seascape, Elly was walking back and forth checking that she had the proportions right in the features she was drawing in on the fishing boats. Peter was now blocking in the substantial water area on the row boats and adding ripples. Pamela was adding texture to the busker’s clothing.

End of the fourth ten minutes

At the start of the fifth session Catherine was now on Pam’s seascape, softening blends and bringing out details, Barbara was redefing the left hand side of the boats where all the white was on the decks and softening the hard lines on the bows. Elly continued Peter’s work on the large water area, Pater was now working on the features for the face of the busker and adding some shadows to the clothing. Pam was on to the sky around the trees for the lighthouse. Catherine was getting that soft effect of rain under storm clouds on the horizon.

End of the fifth ten minutes. Everyone one was now back to their own artwork! That was interesting.

Catherine was worried about too much pastel being on the paper and softened an area with a large brush and went in with some bright oranges and yellows for the rigging around her boats, Barb started redefining her boat hulls, Elly finished Peter’s work on the features in the face for her busker, Peter was putting little details such as windows and railings on to his lighthouse and Pam decided to put in the darkest darks for her rocks in the foreground.

Back with Catherine, who was putting in bold sweeping layers of colour for the reflections of the masts in the water and gaining heaps of depth in her view. Barb was gaining depth and texture, pulling her little row boats from the surface for her painting, Elly was putting in beautiful mauves and purples for her busker, Peter was adding tiny details for his foreshore and around the base of his lighthouse, Pam was now adding reflections and lights to her water in between the rocks.

All of a sudden time was up! Wow that was a marathon not only for the artists but for the writer of this story too! So many people I passed looked so interested an involved with this demo. It wasn’t a passive affair, but one where you could all be involved by asking questions, making observations to each other or by being the artists for the night.

Each painting will be auctioned off later in the year, so will be finished off in each artist’s studio. There just wasn’t enough time to get a painting completed in the timeframe we had. It was however a really fun night and I think we all learnt a lot. I am also looking forward to seeing the completed works from this evening. Thanks to all the artists on the night as well.

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