How I began my pastel journey by Sue Kerrigan-Harris

How I began my pastel journey by Sue Kerrigan-Harris
31st May 2019 Helen Bullock
In Unison News

My pastel journey, started in December 2015 when my sister bought me a Christmas present of 6 pastel pencils. I had no idea what they were as I’d only ever used graphite pencil. I was afraid of colour from many failed attempts with paint!

I quickly realised to my surprise that I enjoyed the pastel pencils so I looked through my art supplies and found that I already had some pastel sticks thanks to my ever supportive partner.  I furiously began using them.

After a month or so I came to the conclusion that I didn’t have enough colours and I wanted to invest in some new pastels. I had no idea what type of pastels I had (they were hard pastels) and what I was about to let myself in for… There are so many brands on the market that it would be a huge task to find out which ones I preferred. I purchased a range of single sticks to test and that is when I discovered UNISON Colour soft pastels. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that they are are made in the UK, (I am British) they are amongst the top brands in the world for quality and texture, so I was very eager to try these pastels.

I was so pleased to find that I absolutely loved them and it was a joy to know that I was buying something that was made in my home country. This was back in January 2016 and since then I haven’t looked back. I’ve discovered different pastel papers – I’ve tried them all and my favourite pastel paper for portraits is Velour. For landscapes and seascapes I use Pastelmat and Colourfix. The paper makes such a difference to the intensity of the colour and texture that it’s really worth exploring all the different papers to see which one suits your style best.

At first I was very tentative about taking the wrappers off my Unisons, it was quite a scary thought not knowing what the colour would be so I made a colour chart and I also now break a third of the pastel off and then I’m able to keep the rest of the pastel in the paper wrapper. This helps me keep track of colours as well as using my colour chart. When there are over  370 pastels in the range you really do need a colour chart or a system if you want to keep track of the colours for when you want to buy more. Eventually I bought a Unison colour chart to make life easier.

So my journey started with 6 pastel pencils 4 years ago and I was without a job due to leaving my role as a Teacher/Tutor to bring up my son and now I am a Professional Portrait Artist and an Art Tutor with weekly classes, workshops, demonstrations and private tuition.

My art journey with pastel has only just begun, I’m looking forward to seeing where it will go.