I’ve had such a busy few weeks getting ready for a couple of exhibitions.  The Pastel Society of Ireland have their big 25th Annual Exhibition on at the moment in Belfast and it looks spectacular.  I’m very happy to have 4 pieces in this.  I’m also gearing up for the weekend when my two ‘man’ show with a fellow pastellist starts.  It’ll be the most amount of my work I’ve ever seen in one venue so I’m looking forward to that!
This piece is something I wanted to get done in time and I’ve just about managed it!
Hope you enjoy following the progress!

The finished painting ‘Portballintrae Bay’ 27″x19″ Pastel on velour


My photo reference.  I joined 2 photos together to create the panorama effect.


My drawing on the velour.  I measured the horizon line so that
the ratio between sky and land is the golden ratio which is
about 1.62.  I’m using the sandy coloured velour as I find
it gives a warmth to the solid blue in a sky.  It will also make
a good mid colour ground for the sea.


Starting by blocking in the blues.  Darker blues first and towards
the top of the sky.  I want to create a smooth gradient which takes a lot
of layers and a lot of rubbing and blending.  I also spray the lower
layers so that it’s not all loose pastel on the paper.


I’ve added the cloud area.  The left hand side is where the main
light is coming from.  The sky next the horizon is a mixture of
lilac purples, blues and warm yellows and peaches.  Blended
all together they give a lovely luminous effect.


Starting to define the cloud shapes
Most blending is done with my fingers.


I’ve blocked in some of the darks with a Faber Castell black stick.
This will create the depth when I layer on the lighter tones.


The lighting in the picture is really dramatic with only the
gables and rooftops of some of the houses catching the light.
I’ve used dusky blues and oranges for the shadow sides.  I use
a mixture of pastel pencil and sticks for things like this but prefer
to use most the bigger pastel sticks as they are most vibrant.  The
piece I’m holding in this image is part of a Unison pastel.  My
smallest bits of pastel are most treasured as they come in useful
for tiny details.


I’ll work my way from the horizon line forward.  I’ve blocked in
a sandy pink which will shine through the water as the sand
beneath the surface does.


Working on the small details of where the sea meets the beach.
Using some lovely Unison sea greens and greys.


I’m quite new to painting moving water so I’m still having
a lot of thinking time about how the waves come in and the
direction of the strokes needed to give that impression.  I find
that keeping a strong sense of the horizon line throughout the
water keeps it from going askew.
Building up the sea tones gradually.  The lip of each wave
gets a good bright highlight and I’ll dot some bits of white
over these at the end to give little sparkles off the water.


Close up section of the finished painting.  I love the drama
in this sky and the velour is perfect for creating the soft blend.
Hope you enjoyed my progress.  If you are in Northern Ireland between the 19th and 26th April please call into Gallery 1608 in Bushmills to see this and many of my pieces in person..