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  • Writer's pictureAndy Bell

Feeling creative?

What's your favourite art medium?

Our next creative workshop is an introduction to oil and soft pastels.

Let's look at pastels -

Pastel: A coloured drawing medium made from pure coloured pigment mixed with a binder to form a stick.

The most used medium is soft pastel due to their ease of blending. They can be easily blended on the paper by smudging with a finger, soft cloth or a blending tool such as a tortillon. Soft pastels have a chalky consistency and by working chalks into the pigments they can effectively soften intense colours and create a range of hues.

Oil pastels are made using an oil and wax binder so are much creamier in their consistency. To smudge and blend oil pastels, solvents such as turpentine are often used.

Pastels developed from natural chalks, which were used by Renaissance masters such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Originating in Northern Italy in the 16th century, this new medium quickly found approval with many of the iconic masters of the day such as Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8-1543)

Pastels were initially only available in red, black and white and were produced from pure powdered pigments mixed with enough gum Arabic, fish or animal glue to bind them. Today there are more than 1600 hues and shades available.

In the mid-18th century, members of affluent society considered it highly fashionable to have their images captured in ‘crayon painting’, as pastel was then called. By around 1820 this fashion faded and very few Artists worked with the medium. The use of pastels reemerged in the late 1860’s when Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917) transformed the pastel from a sketching tool into a core artistic medium.

Throughout the 20th century, influential artists such as Augustus John (1878-1961) and Roger Hilton (1911-1975) experimented with pastel and this exploratory practice continues in the UK today, in work produced by esteemed Artists such as Paula Rego (b.1936), Peter Howson (b.1958) and Ivor Abrahams (b. 1935)

Two dancers (Pastel on paper), Edgar Degas 1898 - 1899 (

You're invited -

Workshop details:

On Tuesday 1 June Artist Amber Bain will be running a two hour online workshop to introduce you to the medium of oil and soft pastels.

Through a series of experiments, you'll use different techniques and tools to blend both soft and oil pastels and learn how you can mix colours in a variety of ways.

After you've practiced the different techniques, you'll discover which are your favourite and combine this knowledge to produce your own unique vibrant, abstract artwork.

Equipped with tips and ideas you'll be ready to continue exploring this artform after the workshop. There'll be time to ask questions and share your work during the session if you wish to do so.

Tuesday 1 June, 10:30 - 12:30

There are a list of resources you'll need to take part including:

Oil pastels

Soft pastels

Sheets of 220gsm Cartridge paper

Paint brushes

Blending stump/tortillon

Battery eraser

For the full list of materials please click here

There is a £5 fee to take part in the workshop

Material packs are available for £20

Click here for more details and to sign up via eventbrite

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