I recently completed an oil pastel painting of the renowned 'Sycamore Gap tree in Northumberland. Using highly abrasive paper helped me apply the pastels more efficiently and with greater speed, ultimately resulting in a beautiful impasto finish.
Upon careful analysis, the application of pastels is deliberately loose and patchy, creating the illusion that it is resting on the surface of the paper. This particular approach imbues the artwork with a distinctive quality, providing a fresh interpretation of the subject matter. This is a unique rendition of a very popular subject.
A little background on the subject
The Sycamore Gap Tree, also known as the Robin Hood Tree, is a popular attraction near Crag Lough in Northumberland, England. It stands next to Hadrian's Wall and is situated in a dip within the landscape, surrounded by dramatic cliffs and rising walls. The tree gained its alternative name from its appearance in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. In 2016, it won the England Tree of the Year award. The National Trust owns the wall and the land around the tree, a favourite spot for tourists and photographers. It is visible from the nearby Military Road and is considered one of the most photographed trees in the country, possibly the most photographed point, even in all of Northumberland National Park.
If you're interested in commissioning an oil pastel portrait, you can contact me or visit my commissions page for more information on how to book your own personalised painting.
I am working on an artistic project involving four beautiful oil pastel paintings. Each painting is a crucial element of a carefully planned photo shoot that presents a blonde-haired lady dressed in authentic 1950s apparel, driving a magnificent bright green 1956 Mercury Montclair.
This painting focuses on the female driver, who exudes confidence as she casually dangles her legs out of the car window, displaying her turquoise stilettos. The artwork strongly represents carefree summer days that bring back nostalgic memories.
The artwork immediately caught my attention with its serene and carefree ambience—its sunny setting added to the positive energy. As someone who grew up in the 80s, the mint green high heels are reminiscent of a pair I cherished years ago and were a delightful addition to the overall composition.
How the painting came together
I used Sennelier oil pastels and Caran d'Ache Neopastels on Dark Grey Pastelmat by Clairfontaine, an exceptional paper for pastel art, which allowed me to create this beautiful drawing.
It's important to be careful when working with oil pastel drawings since they are never fully dry. To prevent dust and debris from sticking to the pastel, I used a non-stick sheet to protect the surface as I worked. I also used blending tools to avoid unintentional colour transfer and applied the finer details gradually, which can be difficult when working with a soft medium like an oil pastel.
Oil pastels offer a fantastic opportunity for artistic expression. Their opaqueness allows for easy correction and the ability to add more colour as desired. Embracing the freedom to adapt and modify certain aspects of the image can create a captivating and thought-provoking piece. For instance, the open arch symbolizes a journey, sparking the imagination to ponder what lies beyond.
This portrait is available individually or as a complete set. It will be shipped without a frame, but rest assured that it will be well-packaged to prevent any damage or dirt. I highly recommend taking it to a trusted framer for secure mounting and framing. Every painting will also include a certificate of authenticity and aftercare instructions.
8.5" x 12" on Pastelmat
Free UK delivery
* The complete set is available for purchase at a price of £950.00.
Included below are three compositions that will feature in the quad. To view the progress page for each portrait, click any of the reference images listed below. If a link is unavailable, the piece has yet to begin. I will include the finished paintings on this page once they are complete.
I enjoy using oil pastels to create portraits in addition to coloured pencils and acrylics, and I find it to be one of the most versatile mediums available. When it comes to creating beautiful and unique works of art, oil pastels offer an unmatched finish that can be applied to any subject with ease.
One of my latest portraits is of our late black Labrador Haze.
When creating my oil pastel paintings, I use professional pastel brands such as Sennelier and Caran d'Ache. One of the most significant advantages of using Sennelier and other soft pastel brands is their superior coverage and pigmentation. These pastels offer a rich and vibrant color that makes each stroke stand out and come to life. On the other hand, harder pastels such as Neopastel enable me to produce fine lines, which is essential when creating intricate details and textures in my portraits.
When it comes time to store or frame my oil pastel portraits, I always take great care to ensure that they are protected. Since oil pastels never dry, it is highly recommended to store them in a secure location until they are framed.
When framing, I highly recommend using glass to prevent debris such as hair and dust particles from damaging the painting's surface. Improper removal of debris can damage the painting's surface, but utilizing glass can prevent this from happening. Upon completion, this portrait will be framed and an image uploaded to this blog.
Overall, oil pastels are an incredibly versatile and beautiful medium that can create stunning works of art. Should you wish to inquire about ordering an oil pastel portrait, please get in touch.
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Karen M Berisford
- Acrylic Paintings
- Picture Framing for acrylic art
- Coloured Pencil Portraits
Videos from the Studio - Art in Progress