Following my tutor’s recommendation in my assignment one feedback I have been looking into David Blackburn’s work and technique. I found this documentary including interviews with him and footage of his pastel technique.
I was pleased to see him using Unison pastels as I bought two recently to experiment with but have not yet tried them. I would like to try how David masks his work, beginning strokes with the pastel on the masking paper and across onto the piece he is working on. This provides interesting blending but also introduces an element of surprise into his work. I am particularly drawn to the way he gets the colours to sing so vibrantly. I love the magic of the northern lights, and his colours and blending has this ethereal quality. I suspect this is lots and lots of layering.
He talks about transformation and the beauty of the landscape. His work also shifts you from small to large, the way something could be a leaf or a horizon. He clearly loves his local moors. This has given me some thoughts about how I might reflect my Essex surroundings. Essex has such a bad reputation and it would be nice to show the parts people miss in their stereotyping of Essex girls and suburban sprawl. There are many beautiful little areas, not to the scale of the moors but lovely nonetheless.
David also produces several pieces and then arranges them into a larger piece of work. Again this is not something I’ve seen done with pastel before. I’m really looking forward to trying this out. I’ve also discovered Chardin and Levy-Durmer from this OCA post on pastels. There’s also some interesting techniques described in this OCA post New ways with pastels.
In my sketchbook submission for this assignment is an A4 page of blocky pastel colour. I followed David Blackburn’s method which you see a little of the in the video I mentioned above to see if I could replicate his effect. It’s fair to say – after trying different things such as blending with my fingers, a brush, a stump, applying a sweep of one colour over another running it across a piece of paper on top of the drawing and then onto the drawing – I ended up with a muddy mess. This was with Unison pastels too which he uses. How he blends his colours so effectively and conveys such luminance is still beyond me. I have a lot of exploring to do yet!