DON’T BE FRIGHTENED OF THE DARKS SAYS JULIE LONGDON
Animal artist Julie Longdon gave us a beautiful portrait of a cocker spaniel at our July meeting. She was this year’s winner of the Best in Show Award at the Association of Animal Artists exhibition.
Julie packed a lot of detail into her painting - all the more impressive because she was using pastels on velour paper. She managed to create fine lines with the edges of the round Unison pastels (the softest and most heavily pigmented type of pastel). Although they are easier to achieve with square Conté sticks and sharpened pastel pencils. (Beware! Pastels blunt pencil sharpeners, use a knife instead.) Velour paper does dull the colours slightly. Alternatively Julie uses Pastelmat, which holds the pastel so that it does not fall off and is easier for fine lines such as whiskers.
“Don’t be frightened of darks” said Julie. “It’s what makes the painting come alive”. Having already drawn the dog with shapes for the different tonal values she likes to use short strokes on the darkest areas first - but not with black. One of her favourite dark colours is the Faber-Castell Pitt 175 Dark Sepia pastel pencil. She saves black until a later stage. The very best colours for animal paintings is the Unison Emma Colebert collection (36 round soft pastels): https://www.unisoncolour.com/product/emma-colbert-animal-36-set/ She used browns, dark reds and pinks to create “splashes of colour” and a cool orange and a warm orange for the eyes. Dogs’ noses are complex and she spends a lot of time on them. She also advised us to vary the direction of some of the hairs.
One of Julie’s tips was to make your own colour/value finder card by punching a hole in white card. Holding the hole over part of a painting and placing a pastel stick or paintbrush next to it makes it possible to compare the two more accurately. Attention to detail is important when painting commissions and a single portrait may take many hours.
Everyone was impressed with Julie’s work. See more of it at the prestigious Southern Nature Art Exhibition at Rookesbury Park, Southwick Road, Wickham, PO17 6HT from 23rd until 26th August 2019.