Painting Winter Trees in Cornwall with Derwent Pastels By Tony Hogan

For this work I used pastel pencils and pastel blocks. The support paper can be of your own choice but certainly one with a ‘good tooth’.  I chose Colourfix-midnight blue by Art Spectrum.

What you will need:

  • Paper: Colourfix-midnight blue by Art Spectrum

Derwent Pastel pencils

  • Pale Spectrum Blue
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Saffron
  • Flesh
  • Raw Umber
  • Seal
  • Naples Yellow
  • Indigo
  • Dioxazine Purple
  • Carbon Black
  • Ionian Green
  • May Green
  • Fresh Green
  • Process Yellow
  • White

Derwent Pastel blocks in (or similar as these are no longer available)

  • Ionian Green
  • Fresh Green
  • Process Yellow
  • Seal
  • Naples Yellow
  • Indigo
  • Dioxazine Purple
  • Carbon Black
  • Pale Spectrum Blue
  • May Green
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Saffron
  • Flesh
  • Raw Umber
  • White

1) Working first with pastel blocks, to achieve coverage of large areas quickly, I select two different shades of blue: Pale Spectrum Blue & Cerulean Blue plus White. Using free flowing sweeps across the paper, I lay these down using the Cerulean Blue on the top, Pale Spectrum Blue on the middle and White at the bottom (use your finger or a paper stump to blend). The laying of deeper tones higher with white tones lower creates aerial perspective, thus giving your background a 3 dimensional aspect.

The bottom right of the work is left untouched at present knowing it will be developed later as a darker area.

Using pastel blocks to create the background

2) This painting was created from a photograph taken earlier in the day so the overall composition had been established with the camera. However, free hand interpretation of this, to establish a better image, was the next step.

Both pastel pencils and blocks where used at this time. First the branches of the skeletal tree using Saffron, Flesh and Raw Umber pencils. Then the initial marks of denser foliage with blocks of Dioxazine Purple, Ionian Green and Fresh Green.

3) Staying with the same colours, I develop further the structure of the skeletal branches. Then, using the shortest edge of the pastel blocks, additional development of the lower dense foliage is added. Using the shortest edge of the block helps create a natural foliage shape.

Adding in the tree branches

4) To balance the painting it is necessary to additionally develop the lower, denser foliage. Working in layers across the whole picture is vital to good art work (as opposed to finishing one area first).

The darker lower area is developed with pastel blocks in Indigo, Dioxazine Purple, Ionian Green, Naples Yellow and Raw Umber.

Adding in the foliage

5) Note: as foliage grows to sunlight leaves sizes get smaller having received less nutrition from the roots.  To illustrate this, use the short edge of the blocks at different angles and pressures as needed.

Adding in the foliage

6) As you advance the work, it is important to pay attention to the harmonious aspect of the image by adding marks to both the lower and higher areas. The green foliage climbing the tree on the right is added (here I include May Green from the pencils) as are the dark smaller trees to the lower left. Overall development of the main foliage below the main tree, is brought to life with the addition of Process Yellow to the left and top of the foliage and Indigo and Carbon Black into the darker areas. Using the Saffron colour pencil, hundreds of small flicks, to represent thin twigs, are drawn to the lower left of the work – around and behind the small dark trees.

Adding in the foliage

7) The counter-change of the dark shadowed areas to the right of the brightly lit skeletal branches is one aspect that drew me to the view. To give full reflection to this feature I add darker shading under the tree branches. I add additional small, brightly lit, skeleton trees to the middle right side of the main foliage area using the Saffron pencil. Further working of the green foliage and strengthening where the light catches the left and top is executed.

8) Heading for completion, there is still work to be done on the skeletal branches of the main trees. When drawing a large amount of sun seeking small twigs, note how they are not all attached to their branches but importantly they always point upwards, even where a heavy branch hangs lower.

9) Finally the dramatic difference of light and dark aspects create the catalytic impact of this stunning view. So allowing plenty of time and attention to establishing this is worth the effort.

Final piece

Thank you to Tony Hogan for providing this blog for us. You can discover more of Tony’s work on his Instagram, Facebook and website.

You can purchase your own Derwent Pastel Pencils here or purchase the Derwent Pastel Collection here.

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