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Art Masterclass   

                          March 2009


Each month presents a feature from either The Artist or its sister publication, Leisure Painter.  

Art masterclass      

from The Artist, the monthly magazine for amateur and semi-professional painters, giving practical instruction in painting and drawing in watercolour, pastels and oils, as well as news of art events, exhibitions and competitions open to leisure artists;  


This Month:

How to paint spring flowers

Fiona Peart

spring flowers

Practise your flower-painting skills and get ready for spring! Follow this step-by-step demonstration and learn to paint beautiful blooms in pastel




All techniques are done on 180gsm smooth drawing paper using magenta and turquoise pastels.

overlaying colourOVERLAYING COLOUR

Pastels with a soft consistency successfully sit on top of a full base colour (left) although slightly harder or perhaps lighter colours may result in less opacity (right )


Mark makingMARK MAKING

Creating details or marks can be achieved by using either an edge of the pastel, or using the end of the pastel block creates an oblique mark.



Creating a natural texture – blending

A light texture is created by gently shading the pastel onto the paper; this leaves small sections of paper untouched thus creating a natural texture. The rougher the paper, the more gritty the texture will be. By pressing a little more firmly, a fuller, richer texture is developed.
Letting one colour overlap the other results in the two colours blending together. Varying the pressure and using different colour combinations


sgraffitoThis is the technique of scratching out or removing a top layer of pastel to reveal the surface or previously laid colour underneath. Use a tool such as a cocktail stick, unfolded paper clip, blunt craft knife or plastic card to gently scrape off colour. This enables us to add incredible details and textures to drawings.

We can use all these techniques to create a drawing of spring flowers. Try not to copy from a photograph, just enjoy using the colours and experiment! Use any colours you wish; if you use similar colours to mine, your drawing will have the same feel about it. You could use very different colours providing they are the same tonal value and the result, although different, will work equally well.


DEMONSTRATION  Blowing flowers


  • Surface 180gsm smooth drawing paper 6x7in. (15x18cm)
  • Oil pastels
  • A cocktail stick or blunt craft knife

step 1


Step 1

1. Gently position the blocks of colour as shown, which will later suggest flowers. Avoid drawing outlines.
2. Using green, draw in the direction that the grasses grow. Lefthanded artists may find it easier to move in the opposite direction. Choose which feels the most natural position to create movement.

step 2


Step 2

Once you have positioned the blocks of colour, begin to apply more pressure and overlay some of the colours. It’s important to build up the colour at this stage, keeping areas of light and dark within the drawing and still retain the directional quality of the drawing.


step 3Step 3

1. Begin to use the blending technique to create denser colour; press more firmly to achieve this.

2. Cover most of the white areas, although small textural gaps are fine and add to your drawing. But if you want white anywhere, use a white pastel.


step 4


Step 4

Add darker directional lines. Although there is a tendency for us to remain cautious and keep our colours subtle, be brave. It’s important to add darks as, in the final stage, we will be scraping off quite a bit of them to reveal the lighter colours underneath.



step 5Step 5

This is probably the most exciting part of the drawing! We now add the detail and create more movement by removing pigment.
Using black or a dark pastel, add the flower centres. Make any alterations now before removing the pastel.
Finally, use a blunt craft knife, a cocktail stick or the end of a paper clip to scrape out the directional lines, which will reveal the colour underneath.




This demonstration was taken from the March 2009 issue of Leisure Painter. If you would like to see more pastel articles please click here.




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