My 5 Day Pastel Challenge with Rebecca de Mendonça

I’m relatively new to pastels (I normally paint in oil). I wasn’t sure about signing up for this challenge, mainly because I didn’t know the instructor, and am definitely not familiar with the moors landscape in England. I do have a lot of Unison Colour pastels, and like them a lot, so ultimately that is why I decided to sign up.

The day before the challenge, we received an email notification directing us to files with a line drawing of the subject matter, and a complete materials list. It was in colour, so I could compare the pastels to what I currently had. I didn’t have time to order more pastels, but with my Unison Colour landscape set and the Emma Colbert Animal 36 set, I was able to find some, and substitute for just about everything else. I prepared my paper (toned, as advised by Rebecca), drew out the line drawing, and gathered my pastels together in anticipation of day one.

We also joined a private Facebook group to access the lessons and worksheets, and to post our progress and chat with other students (there were over 1,000 signed up!). Rebecca had carefully prepared a short lesson for each day, which comprised a PDF worksheet with a daily exercise, and every step detailed (including Unison Colour pastel codes), a video lesson, and a Q and A session. Initially, the Q and A sessions were to be held live, but the internet was just not cooperative, and Rebecca had to pre-record them. We were able to post questions to her earlier in the day, and she also looked at our work online, and gave us group feedback in the daily recording. So, each day was a lesson with follow up, and very useful!

We started with the sky and the background, learning how to blend (and learning that some of our paper doesn’t blend well!) and setting the stage for what was to come next. Each day was a perfect length, not too short and not too long.

Next was the mid-ground (trees and fields), which we needed to keep in the background (using blues and greens), and then the rocks, followed by the foreground grasses (or ferns, depending on your choice). We learned where to place our focal point and why. We also learned ways of bringing colours used in the back and mid-ground into the rocks and foreground, a way of harmonizing the painting. Finally, we learned how to set down colour and leave it alone, making bold strokes to personalize our painting. We got to use the brightest colours in our palette.

I was a bit out of my comfort zone working in stages like this, as I like to work on the whole painting all at once, but everything worked out well in the end. On the last day I was able to revisit areas of my painting and make small adjustments to relate different areas to another, to add complementary colours, and put the final touches in (adding people).

Every person’s picture turned out different, and it was so interesting to see how each painting developed over the week. Students were so supportive of one another.

I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge. It was hands-down the best workshop experience I’ve had, and I look forward to what Unison Colour has to offer next. I’m thinking about registering for Rebecca’s online workshop in late January (deadline is Dec 1st). I know that I’ll get the same high-quality preparation and instruction that we received during this challenge.

Congratulations to Unison Colour and Rebecca De Mendonça for a great workshop! Thank you!

My 5 Day Pastel Challenge with Rebecca de Mendonça 1

Read another challenge participant blog here…

Lifelong Learner, by Ewan Ashley | Unison Colour

Learn more about what goes on behind the scenes of a 5 Day Pastel Challenge, with a blog from Helen Bullock…

What goes on behind the scenes of the Unison Colour 5 Day Pastel Challenge, by Helen Bullock | Unison Colour

Lifelong Learner

For most of my life I assumed art was not for me, obviously I tried it at school, but I was never that good.

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2 Responses

  1. (Translated)Five-day challenges leave so many impressions that there are few words! The indescribable feeling of unity of different people from different countries is worth a lot! The reverent and empathetic attitude of both artists and beginners to each other creates a creative atmosphere and harmony in this community created by the Unison team!!! I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to learn from the experienced. Talented. patient, delicate mentors!

    (Original)Пятидневные челленджи оставляют так много впечатлений, что мало слов! Непередаваемое чувство единения разных людей из разных стран – это дорогого стоит! Трепетное и чуткое отношение и художников и начинающих друг к другу создает творческую атмосферу и гармонию в этом сообществе, созданном командой Юнисон!!! Я бесконечно благодарна за предоставленную возможность учиться у опытных. талантливых. терпеливых, деликатных наставников!

  2. Great blog thanks Unison and Helen and the contributing artists.
    I joined the Sue Kerrigan-Harris Bailey challenge and thoroughly enjoyed it, also carrying on with her horse workshop.
    Time constraints have cursed further participation, but keep up the good work Unison, you are doing a fantastic job of promoting pastels as a painting medium.

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