I only work in soft pastel and love the sensuous nature of applying pigment directly to a surface and just adore how you are literally in touch with your art. I sometimes see visitors to my studio looking at me strangely and then I realise I’ve got a green ear or blue chin from the pastel dust transferred from my fingers. The coloured papers and surfaces available to pastellists also really help develop the emotion and mood that I strive to convey.
When considering a piece I sometimes produce tonal sketches and may include an underpainting to help work up those all-important tonal differences. However, more often than not the piece flows straight through to my fingers onto the paper without any intervening steps. I work loosely to begin with, blending and developing the areas of colour, dark to light and then will include more detail in the key areas. Finally, the bright gems and fine detail will be added sparingly, which can really bring the picture to life.
My pictures are normally completed in just a few sittings and I will occasionally work late into the night to finish a piece that has gripped me. I rarely use photographs as references unless working on a specific commission, as my best work seems to be done en plein air or direct from my imagination. Some people produce wonderful work based on the captured image but for me the finished piece somehow always feels slightly subordinate to the photograph.