What goes on behind the scenes of the Unison Colour 5 Day Pastel Challenge

Following the recent success of our 5 Day Pastel Challenge with Rebecca De Mendonca, I thought our Unison Colour fans might like to understand (and appreciate) what goes on behind the scenes of the 5-day challenges.

We held the first challenge back in August 2020 – we were already amid the Covid pandemic, and we wanted to do something that would be accessible to all artists (pastellists or not!) and so the Unison Colour 5 Day Challenges were born.

We have had 6 challenges so far, all with different artists and covering different subjects.

My main role is to persuade one of our Associate Artists that they may like to do this! I like to approach artists who already teach pastel and who have an approachable teaching manner as well as someone who can cope under pressure.

Planning and development of the challenges occurs months in advance so to ensure everything is in place so that Unison Oliver has time to make the magic happen with the videos, material, social shares etc.

First, the artist will choose an image that would appeal to a beginner as well as an experienced artist. I work with the artist to plan the next stages e.g., development of the step-by-step guidance, videos and the colour palette. The artist does the main brunt of the work, I am merely the conduit!

Once we are all happy, a blog is posted and the announcement is made AND then we wait for the sign ups. This is an apprehensive time for us all – how many will sign up? Will anybody sign up?!

Our challenges are run via Facebook and we are asked why do we use that channel? We use that social media platform because it enables as many folks as possible to take part for free and we do understand the frustration that comes with using that technology. However, by using Facebook we are able to create a mini community of like-minded people.

At 4pm on the Sunday before the challenge, the gates are open and everyone is allowed access to the group. This is the time where introductions are made, and we wait with in trepidation for Monday… will it all work? Will people be happy? Will folk find the material?

The group is monitored by me aka Unison Helen and Unison Oliver, we ensure that any questions are picked up, help people navigate through the minefield that is Facebook as well as share lots of love, whilst watching in amazement as images begin to appear of the chosen challenge image. Our artist plays a major role during the week as they are also on hand to answer questions and reassure participants.

I must admit the 5 Day Challenge is an all-consuming week and it is very difficult to switch off and with participants from all over the world, you want to make sure that their needs are met too. It does feel like 24-hour days during the week.

At the end of each day there is a Live Q&A (another nerve-wracking time for both the artist and us!) The artist answers questions that have been posed throughout the day as well as doing short demos for those who are struggling with a particular technique or general hints and tips to help everyone.

As the week passes by and the artwork is looking a lot like the final image, we reach day 5 and the relief is palpable – we did it! But there is also a tinge of sadness because you feel like you have been a part of a rollercoaster ride with some of the participants – those that have been near to giving up but have given themselves a shake and produced a great piece of art – that’s what makes it for me as well as reading everyone’s happy comments.

We have brought the 5 Day Challenges to over 3000 people, and we take great pleasure in being able to bring pastel learning for free to a wider audience. Some haven’t even used pastel before doing a challenge, but we like to hope we have converted them.

Now it is time to plan the 7th 5 Day Challenge, the question is…. will you be there?

Read blogs from 2 challenge participants here…

Lifelong Learner, by Ewan Ashley | Unison Colour

My 5 Day Pastel Challenge with Rebecca de Mendonça, by Susan Hunter Guise | Unison Colour

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9 Responses

    1. Hi Beverly, we always announce the challenges by email, on our blog, in our Facebook Pastelling Community group and all of our social media channels. In other words, we like to sing it from the rooftops. So as long as you’re following us on some of those channels, you shouldn’t miss it. ☺

  1. These challenges are wonderful and a very generous way of developing our pasteling skills while building a great online community, which itself builds a sharing of talent and friendship, a positive experience when all around seems chaotic.
    I have completed two challenges, both artists with very different techniques but both great supportive teachers, i have learned so much and of course fallen in love with the luscious Unison pastels,
    Thank you for setting these up and please keep them coming they are fabulous 😍

  2. Can we get access to previous challenges? As soon as I learned about your pastels I have done the challenges but unfortunately it started at #5.

    1. Hi Penny, unfortunately the challenges are not accessible as we require participants to sign up to join. However, we have a challenge running in Feb, so keep an eye out for an announcement via our Facebook group & emails. Unison Helen

  3. I have done all but one so far. Count me in for N°7 without a doubt. I can appreciate all the work behind the scenes is massive, and a very vital cog in the success of these challenges. Each one I have learned from, but above all the positive and supportive community that builds up organically around them is fantastic. Thank you to all who have brought us these so far…… Lucy xxx

  4. Thank you for this very interesting read. Such a lot of work for all involved and I thank you again, such a great thing for me to be involved in as a learner pastelist!
    Kind regards Dianne.

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