I always take lots of photos when I’m out and about especially when you catch a day with good light!  I took photos of Portrush Harbour where I used to live one sunny Autumn day.  The North Coast of Ireland seems to get a light all of it’s own!  I stock pile oceans of photos as possible reference to work from, or just ideas.

I pieced together a couple of photographs to create a panorama which is what I worked from.


The finished painting…’Portrush Harbour’ 27″x19″ Pastel on velour


I’ve sketched out the town to give me the perspectives of the
buildings.  The water and reflections will be much looser so there’s
no need to sketch anything in there.  You can see my desk set up
here which has everything I need close to hand.  The glass top
on my desk is brilliant as I can have trays of pastels in there
and can pretty much see my whole colour range as I work.
This is also the first time I’ve ever used an entire sheet of velour…
Going bigger is fun but scary!


I’m working on the sandy colour velour as I find when layering
lots of blue, this under colour tends to warm it up a little.  Starting
at the top I’ve put the darkest blue down first and get
gradually lighter as I go towards the horizon.


The velour is great as it takes many layers, but it takes many
hours of scrubbing the colour into the paper to build up a
really smooth gradient.  I love doing this part but my arm is
quite sore by the end, especially on this big painting!


Rubbing it in until smooth


Starting from the left I’m going to work right round the buildings.
This middle ground of the painting will really come to life
in the reflections.  I’m using really vibrant oranges to outline
areas which are being hit by direct sun.  Then adding a light
creamy colour as the highlights.  White is too stark.  Try using
an off white for highlights in sunny pictures to warm it up.


I’ve used a dusky blue for white buildings which are in shadow.



This is one of my trusty paper stump blenders which come in
so useful for tidying up lines.  They can be bought in most art
shops or online.  Cheap and very useful!
I’ve also added the dark area in at the bottom.  Similar to the sky
I’m going to work from dark to light, just in the opposite direction.


Using the larger Unison sticks to bring the light
colours and reflections in to the water.  I find
the Unison blend so well on the velour.  Creating
this mirror like surface on the water is surprisingly



It’s just a case of patience now!  I’ve got my colours all in front
of me, I’ve just got to methodically get round the whole
harbour and make sure that the buildings and their reflections
line up.


A close up of a small area showing the lovely spongey texture
of the velour paper.