My Pastel Journey

Hi everyone, I’m Kath Woollen, www.kathwoollenartist.co.uk, and when I saw that Unison Colour were asking for artists to write pieces for their monthly blog I immediately put my name forward. Then forgot about it if I’m honest, as life gets busy eh?!! So it was a delightful surprise to get their email saying:

“Thanks once again for putting your name forward to contribute to the Unison Colour Monthly blog. You have been chosen to write a piece for May.”

Eeekk!! Slight panic, very quickly turning to feeling honoured. ‘What do I write?’ I asked myself…’Should I make it technical, or businesslike?’ …. No, I decided…it’s just going to be me, unashamedly me, written from the heart, a place of honesty and, perhaps, incredulity. So here goes …..

Having drawn and painted all my life as a hobby from a very young age (from my first Painting by Numbers Set aged about 5 years), and having been primarily a self-taught watercolourist, I thought I’d explored most art mediums available up until about nine or ten years ago. After taking early retirement from a stressful management role in 2006, and downsizing to a bungalow, with nowhere to paint, I joined my local art club in the community centre in Seaton Sluice, and was pleased to see the many different mediums and styles that other members displayed in their work. A small number of people used Pastels, a medium I was aware of but had never tried, or even fancied trying to be honest. Not for me, I thought. Give me my paints and brushes any time. Ha ha, how wrong could I be?!! There was a visiting pastel artist coming to give a demonstration and run a workshop – Clare Money, using Unison Soft Pastels – and I really wasn’t very interested in attending. But as I was Secretary of the Art Club at that time, I decided that I should be there. Well, it was a revelation! And it completely changed the kind of artist that I was – and am to this day – no exaggeration. In that four hour workshop I was enthralled and bewitched by this new-to-me medium that I could blend and manipulate with my finger tips into very acceptable impressionistic works of art. I produced two paintings in that workshop, and afterwards signed up to another Clare Money Pastel workshop, during which I later produced two more, larger paintings, again using Unison, that to this day remain amongst my favourites “Spring Tide, Whitley Bay” and “Morning Light, Whitley Bay”.

To say that I was hooked would be an understatement.  From then on, my paints and brushes were relegated to the cupboard and I very rapidly increased my colour collection of Unison Soft Pastels, box by box, set by set. The sheer amount of colour choice available is mind boggling, and as my confidence grew, I found my online followers grew, loving what I produced, and asking me for hints and tips as to how I used them to achieve the results I got, and asking me to run my own workshops that they could attend. I even put together a Pastels Hints & Tips document that I freely share with anyone who wants it.

I was then asked by a gallery owner in Cumbria to produce nine pastel paintings, see examples below, depicting his local area, for a solo exhibition in March 2012, that ran in his establishment for a month. Phew!! Amazing!

I then went from strength to strength, painting many pastel landscapes and seascapes for friends and family (see examples below), and exhibiting at art festivals such as Alnmouth Arts Festival, where I was lucky enough to exhibit five years running, and having many of my paintings displayed in galleries in Northumberland. I even tried my hand at Pet Portraits using Pastels on velour paper, very successfully (see just a few examples below).

I did also start to run my own pastel workshops, giving in to demand, starting with a small group in my local community centre, then to larger groups in hired venues, and eventually in my own studio that I rented for a short while – always using Unison Soft Pastels for my demos, and converting many budding pastel artists to using them also. I think it’s safe to say I influenced a lot of them into using Unison, and they are now fanatics too!

Then in 2015 I was approached by a publishing company wanting me to be included in one of their women’s art journals. Flabbergasted, and incredulous, I accepted. All my artworks submitted and published were done using Unison. I was then invited to be featured in several more publications, one of which was dedicated to Pastel Art, and one to Landscape Art, for which I also wrote the Foreword. Fame at last!

I could write more, but perhaps this is enough…for now!

I can’t believe how these little sticks of soft and deliciously beautiful colour have transformed my art journey in such an incredible way.

Thank you, Unison!

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