I was asked to create a painting for a wedding present of this beautiful period house called The Argory which is just outside Moy in Co Tyrone.  I grew up close to this National Trust property and have always loved visiting it’s beautiful grounds with the dogs.  I went on a really sunny late afternoon to photograph for the painting.  I ended up using the sky from one photo and the view from another.
It’s always lovely to be asked to produce such a memorable gift for someone, and in this case even more so as our families have been friends for many years.  I hope this piece marks the start of a new chapter for them and that they enjoy the painting for many years.
The finished painting, pastel on velour 20″x 13″


My line sketch on the velour.


Working from furtherest away to the foreground I start with the
blue gradient of the sky.  This was built up using about 3 shades of
Unison blue pastels.  I love their softness but they do stick
well to the velour by rubbing in these lower layers.


You can see from this how I’ve added the purple grey tones first
marking in the shapes of the clouds.  The beauty of pastels is how
easily blended they are.  I can soften the edges of the clouds
with my fingers as it will blend into the blue I’ve applied underneath.


I keep adding thin layers and blending until the clouds get
smoother and the gradients within them more subtle.
I’m tempted to work this area below the horizon
all at once adding in all my darkest tones all over but I just
can’t help working in this left to right fashion.
I know that I can rest my hand
and not worry about leaning on worked areas.
It’s not the classically taught method, but in my
opinion it’s the end product that matters most
and I like working this way.  I would use
the other method if I was painting plein air though.
I would have to work quicker to capture the light
so it would be important to judge the picture as a
whole.  In this case I’ve already captured the light
I wanted in my photos.  It’s how I transpose that
into pastel that makes it a painting.


The contrast is high in the photo so I can really
go for deep dark shadows and vibrant highlights.


Although I’ve used mostly Unison soft pastels
I’ve also used a Faber Castel black stick for the
darkest value.  I also used some dark pastel pencils
for the very small fine lines on the building.



Working the whole back row of trees.  I’ve used about 6 or 7
shades of green only although it’s one colour you’ll want to
have lots of if you’re interested in painting landscapes,
especially here in Ireland!



The building is quite small in the composition and there is
a lot of detail in the stonework. The best I can do is hint at it!
I use pastel pencil to mark in the darkest shadows first.


You can see here a Grey28 Unison pastel which has been worn
down when I used it on it’s side.  Using the different sides of
pastels creates good edges for detail.  I’ve exhausted every sharp
edge I have doing this building!  But I can easily create more
without wasting any pastels.


Working the foreground now with that dappled light.


Almost there!  The final highlights to some of the speckles of light.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the progress.  Check out my website for info on how to go about commissioning a painting of a loved one, pet or even a favourite view.  www.EmmaColbertArt.com