I have always had an interest in drawing, particularly realism. Bringing my subjects to life is always a challenge and very rewarding.
During my time living in the USA and UK 1980-1993 I dabbled with Portrait commissions. Initially coloured pencils or white charcoal on black backgrounds. Monochromatic work was always interesting and a total focus on values, a basic requirement for realism.
After returning to New Zealand and my children were teens, I went back to work part time in an Art Shop. What a wonderful job meeting so many amazing artists and getting to know all about art materials.
I discovered pastel pencils! One of our customers was the local Representative for PANZ, The Pastel Artists of NZ, and she encouraged me to join. I entered my first pastel into the National Exhibition in 2009 and was accepted and won a Merit Award.
I continued practising, started to exhibit and each year entered a variety of shows, with continued success over the next several years. My body of work is constantly evolving and influenced by New Zealand’s beautiful scenery, flora and fauna that I missed for the 15 years I was overseas.
I was awarded Master Pastellist in 2017 with PANZ, Signature Status with the Pastel Society of America 2016 and was awarded Master Circle status with IAPS in 2018.
Although the shop had a few brands of soft pastel available I had been apprehensive because of my love of detail. One of the benefits of awards here, specifically pastel exhibitions, was winning boxes of pastels, the majority being Unison as they are a major sponsor for PANZ. I wasn’t sure how I was going to use them and get the detail that I loved.
For smaller works my subjects were done primarily with the pastel pencils, and I started using the Unisons for softer muted backgrounds. The colours are amazing and so many to choose from, I was fortunate to have a good selection. They are great for larger and quicker coverage, so buttery and easy to blend. As my style evolved and I started working bigger I was able to use the Unisons in my main body of the work as well. Pastel sticks can be very versatile, I do blend a lot and use the side of the pastel for quicker coverage and then work pastel pencils in, whether it’s for detailing or subtle colour shifts. I can use the tip or shards with the smaller sharper edges for some details. Of course soft pastels do have a vibrancy that pencils don’t have, as they have more pigment. So most of my work now is a combination of both.
I am gradually increasing my stock as I need certain colours. The laminated Unison colour chart is accurate and definitely a must in anyone’s collection. I know my style will evolve further and I am sure Unison will continue to play a major role.