I enjoyed my previous two summer art classes so much that it wasn’t long before I’d booked myself onto another. During July and August City Lit run lots of short classes that run on consecutive days (instead of one day a week for a period of time) so you can really throw yourself into something new. I signed up for an introductory oil pastels class as I’d recently brought a box but was struggling with them.
I felt so inspired by this class that I managed to make time to practice between classes and have continued with some sketching since the class. One of the big appeals I’m finding with oil pastels is that you can create quite vibrant drawings without the usual mess, so they are great for sketching on location.
The first evening was warm and sunny so we heading out to a nearby park with a life model. This was a really lovely way to draw and created a nice relaxed atmosphere for the class.
We were restricted to using no more than three colours so that we could focus on different types of mark making and get to know the medium. The model was wearing a lovely pink and purple dress, which clearly influenced my choice of colours!
For our second class we got to bring in our own photographs to work from. I took in a few of my safari photos, but ended up choosing to work with the rhino image that I’d already used in the Painting and Photography class. It was nice to work with the same imagine again as it felt a bit easier to get going. I was experimenting with how to create different texture effects as well as layering and blending colours. I’m still struggling with getting the texture right (feel that with painting and other forms of drawing too), so more practice is needed.
In the final lesson we had a life model again, but in the studio this time. We started out with a fun exercise that I’d not done before – you have 5 minutes to start the drawing (focusing on marking out the key features/composition). Then we all had to move a couple of spots around the room to someone else’s drawing(!) and work on that for 5 minutes with a different focus. This repeats until you’ve worked on four different drawings. Here is the drawing that I started, but I wish I’d taken photos of more of them as it was really interesting to see the results.
Using what we’d learnt so far we then produced two more drawings. I felt like I was struggling a bit (working too slowly), but felt better at the end when we collected the previous day’s work and I realised we had been working on a much larger scale than the day before but had the same amount of time to do three big drawings as we’d spent doing one quarter size drawing the day before. I guess I’m not a quick drawer so should work to a smaller scale if pushed for time.
After the class I went to the National Gallery to see the oil pastel works of Degas that they have. Beautiful works of art that could be mistaken for paintings, by my untrained eye anyway! I clearly need a lot more practice to discover the full potential of this medium.