A Change Of Tone – A One Box Challenge

Are you in the ‘too many colours is not enough’ camp? or the ‘less is more’ camp when it comes to having colours to choose from?

I love the excitement of getting a new box of Unison Colour pastels, whether refilling some of my most used tones or treating my self to one of the boxes I feel I am missing. And I have been known to buy a box that just “looks so pretty”.

Soft pastel sets stacked up on a table.

But sometimes we can all be guilty of using our favourites over and over and perhaps overlooking other tones. Or, at times, it can seem overwhelming as to which colours to start with, without repeating the same ones we are used to using. Or we simply may not have yet built up a large collection of colours in our pastel wardrobe.

Lots of coloured pastel sets laid out on a table.

If like me you are lucky enough to have a wide range of beautiful pastels it is sometimes too easy to stay within your comfort zone.

So for this blog I decided to randomly pick a Unison Colour Collection tonal box of pastels and use only that box, plus a black or dark tone and a white or light tone.

It is my One Box Challenge………

I always think it is important to have one dark and one light for balance, definition and contrast in most of my work. Unison Colour luckily give us some beautiful choices for the darkest darks and the lightest lights

The Midnight 8 set gives such sumptuous rich darks, but also I find Grey13 and Grey 36 deep and dark. As for choosing a near white tone I adore the Light1 or Grey 26 which has a touch more warmth.

In this case I opted for Grey 13 and Light1

The Brown Earth 19-36 coloured pastel range.
Unison Colour Brown Earth 19 – 36

I plumped for Brown Earth 19-36 rather than my much loved blues, aquas and pinks.

Rather than paint a scene that I automatically thought would match these beautiful earthy greens, browns and mustardy tones, I plumped for a seascape as an additional challenge. The beauty of Unison Colour pastels, as you probably know if you are reading this blog, is their buttery softness and bendability. Knowing the consistent quality of your materials helps in having confidence to just play and have fun with them.

I started by just laying down some of the earthy green and sandy tones having fun blending to create a moody sky on my mid toned Canson Mi-Teinte paper. My technique is very much a soft blend and build. So I carried on this experiment, saving darker tones for the sea.

I discovered some of the pastel sticks in this box had hardly been used until now and I started to really enjoy the simplicity of having just the one box to dip into. So I continued to build up a very different looking simple seascape.

Pastel painting of a couple walking along the beach just after sunset.
Late Night Walk by Lucy Brangwin

This is not a technical lesson in seeking tonal values, it is a lesson in feeling free enough to just experiment with a more limited palette than you may usually use to create a simple scene, or discovering colours that are less used than your usual go-to tones.

Try stepping out of your comfort zone, use some colours that maybe until now have been less loved than your favourites. Who knows, by doing so, you may discover a new favourite.

Will you try a one box challenge – and which box would you use ? I would love to hear about your experiments…

My Pastel Journey as an Untrained Artist

Maybe it was a ‘Sliding Doors’ moment of walking past a Spanish art shop that had a box of pretty pastel sticks in their window display in the centre of Palma.

Announcing New Associate Artists!

In May we held a recruitment exercise for new Associate Artists and we were overwhelmed with the number of applications. So much so we will have 2 groups of new artists. Our 2nd group will be announced in August 2020.

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