Realistic Techniques Workshop

Today, I attended another fun and informative workshop. The name might sound a bit strange but it’s a literal translation from Dutch “realistische technieken” Am not sure how to better translate it but the intention of the workshop was to focus on proper sketching techniques so the result would be as accurate to reality as possible in terms of shape, proportion and dimension. And of course the drawing should reflect correctly the highlights and shadows according to where the light hits. Parallel to this workshop, though, was the introduction to pan pastels.

Our instructor, Julia Woning, whose workshop I had previously attended a few weeks ago, was very pleasant as usual and made the workshop interesting. Once again, the atmosphere of the event was friendly and positive. The lecture was in Dutch, which I managed to fully follow and am pleased about.Firstly, Julia briefly explained about the theory of sketching by starting with basic shapes (drawing two circles first when drawing a bird), proportions (the body of the bird is twice as bigger than the head) and lighting.

However for this workshop we merely traced sample drawings by applying a grey pan pastel on the back of the sample drawing and tracing it on the drawing paper underneath. I suspect this short-cut was due not only to time constraints but also as a chance to promote the pan pastels by letting us sample them first hand. Not that this was an issue for me of course. I thought it was a great experience and another chance to check it out and see if it’s really for me. Today, I was in the mood for drawing a ladybug.

After successfully tracing the drawing, I in turn traced over the outlines with pastel coloured pencils. Derwent has a good set which I had purchased at the previous workshop. These pencils also help reach areas that the pastels (pan or sticks) can’t squeeze into and help build up areas that need shading.

And now ready to colour away! For those not familiar with pan pastels, they come in dry cakes of pigments in individual compacts. They are typically applied with special sponges a bit similar to make-up sponges and applied directly onto paper without any water or solvents needed. If you want to blend colours it’s best to use a blending medium which is also a dry cake of powder. The pigments are also quite concentrated, giving out a highly saturated result. And compared to pastel sticks, they don’t make dust which makes the experience less messy and friendlier to your respiratory system!

I quite enjoyed the experience but being an illustrator by nature, I had to be reminded to add some shadows and highlights to give more dimension. I need to work on that more! Nevertheless am well pleased how smooth and evenly the colours slide on the paper. That said, am not quite ready yet to embark fully on this media by investing on a wide range of colours and material.

I am though quite curious as to how my work the would turn out when using pan pastels as background. Thus, I helped myself to a set of “tinted” colours, i.e. shades mixed with white for a “pastel colour” effect. I think they’d add some cuteness to my work, whether mixed media or using other forms of pastels. And I also helped myself to a set of metallic colours of golds and bronze to add some bling when am in the mood. Can’t wait to try them out soon!

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