A Perfect Creative Association With Unison Colour Pastels: Part II

Associate Artists Robert Dutton and Andy Moodie explain how supporting one another as artists helps each to progress using Unison Colour soft pastels.

Artists have often collaborated together in numerous ways to achieve their goals, enrich their creative experiences and to advance and make progress with their art.

Unison Colour Associate artists Robert Dutton (from North Yorkshire) and Andy Moodie (from Harrogate) explain how their long standing friendship and association as artists works in partnership to help each other move forward in new and exciting ways sharing their passion for Unison Colour soft pastels.

Andy Moodie

We are told that being an artist is to be on a continuous journey, and that the path is long and never ending. Indeed it is, and what great fun it is, but it can be lonely and confusing to wander on that path by yourself without a sense of direction. This is where our fellow artists can be a source of great support and inspiration and in this world of social media, we are particularly fortunate to have a whole Unison community to turn to. But there’s still nothing that can beat face to face mentoring – the trick is to find someone who has a synergy with what you wish to achieve and how you wish to achieve it!

And so I was indeed fortunate to come across Rob Dutton’s weekly art classes in Harrogate, not long after my legal career brought me from London to the Yorkshire spa town in the late 90’s. Rob’s classes were exactly what I wanted to keep my lifelong interest in art alive, while my feet were otherwise kept stuck under a desk at work. But there were unforeseen bonuses that were to take my art to new levels at a rapid rate.

First, Rob’s favoured medium was soft pastel. Fantastic! This too was my

‘go to’ medium. However, I was unfamiliar with the Unison pastels that Rob mainly used, and I was quickly (and permanently) converted to their amazing qualities. Second, Rob was, (and is!), an inspirational teacher with an infectious enthusiasm for creating authentic (and definitely not simply commercial or formulaic) art. Being similar in age and having similar interests (wildlife / karate…!) only helped to create an affinity and friendship.

A Perfect Creative Association With Unison Colour Pastels: Part II 2
Andy’s mixed media painting, ‘Honister Slate’, painted on site as part of Robert’s art holiday at Higham Hall, near Keswick

And third, Rob was keen to progress his art and his techniques and was more than happy to share his many discoveries with his students. Back in those days, Rob’s work was full of colour with lots of expressive mark making, but it was early days in his experimentation with mixed media, and in his pure pastel work he was looking to engender a looser approach. And so it has been nice to witness Rob’s own particular journey in this respect over the last couple of decades, and to be able to follow in his footsteps, both with those expressive and energetic pastel marks and with splashy washes of inks or watercolour and vibrant sweeps of liquid graphite (and much more!), combined with our favourite pastels. All that’s asked for is a willingness to learn, to try new ideas, and to expand personal artistic horizons.’

A Perfect Creative Association With Unison Colour Pastels: Part II 3
‘Light Over Flamborough’ – a mixed media work painted by Andy in the studio at Higham Hall, following Robert’s techniques using acrylic inks and Unison pastels on watercolour paper.

When the weekly classes came to an end, I continued to try to paint whenever possible, and in fact it was an important therapy to the stresses and strains that came with my job. I attended workshops of other artists from time to time but continued to keep in contact with Rob and attend where possible those that he was now running as being those I felt most closely related to. However, we met more infrequently as we pushed on with our respective careers.

A Perfect Creative Association With Unison Colour Pastels: Part II 4
‘French Summer’ – Andy’s depiction of a corner of the Dordogne painted from reference photographs taken on Robert’s art holiday in the Dordogne using Unison pastels on SAIT P500 sanded paper

That changed when I was fortunate (and relieved) to be able to take early retirement at the end of 2018. Since then, I’ve delighted in focussing on a new career as an artist. I’ve taken the opportunity to attend Rob’s popular art holidays, both in the UK at different locations in the Lake District, as well as a blisteringly hot week in the Dordogne. I also continued to attend his workshop days around the country. You may wonder if there is anything more to learn, but I don’t think I have ever come away from one of these experiences without a new top tip or technique, and feeling that my art has benefited. And its nice to find that I’m now able to help my fellow students where appropriate, and of course without stepping on Rob’s teaching toes!

A Perfect Creative Association With Unison Colour Pastels: Part II 5
‘Sentinel’ – Painted in the studio at Higham Hall, Andy has used acrylic inks and Unison pastels to capture this Lake District scene.

It has been a great honour to become an Associate Artist with Unison pastels, alongside some of the finest pastel practitioners in the world, including Rob, and this has given me confidence to further develop my art. Unison and the Associate Artist role has brought Rob an I together again, this time in a professional capacity. I’ve been encouraged both by Unison and Rob to create blogs and short tutorials for Pastel Academy, and on the back of these I now give regular art demonstrations and workshops with local art societies. Social media did not exist when Rob and I first met and there was certainly nothing comparable to Unison’s Pastel Academy to encourage a fledgling pastel artist. I would encourage everyone in this community to explore this great facility and perhaps find his or her own mentor. It is inevitably a rewarding experience to be able to share another artist’s talent, ideas and creative energy, and hopefully it will give you the same levels of confidence that Rob has been able to give to me, and propel your art to new and exciting places!

A Perfect Creative Association With Unison Colour Pastels: Part II 6
‘Evening Tide, Tenerife’ – a mixed media painting created by Andy on one of Robert’s workshops in Bridlington.

Life Drawing For Better Pastel Painting

I have attended a variety of life drawing classes over the years and have come to realise just how helpful they are to my progression as a pastel artist of landscapes.

Nifty Shades of Grey

Creative expression with Unison Colour black, white and grey toned pastels.

If At First You Don’t ‘Quite’ Succeed

‘I have many times felt that I have lost the excitement and energy of the initial underpainting stage by overuse of pastel, and I felt that had perhaps happened here when I considered the finished work.’

Announcing More New Associate Artists

We can now announce our second group of new Associate Artists to Unison Colour. Our Associate Artists perform a fantastic role for Unison Colour and we are proud to welcome the following people…

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3 Responses

  1. Fab to have an insight on your art journey, i love both you and Robs art and have attended his inspiring work shops, I started pastelling when I retired 2yr ago and found the glorious Unisons, I’m learning along the way and finding my own style sometimes it works!

    Keep posting your fab art, I can see where Robs influence pops up here and love the mix.

    Thank you both and keep them coming

  2. A most enjoyable read. Both Robert and Andy have provided much inspiration with their words whilst viewing their art. Lovely techniques. Thanks for sharing.

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