Pastel painting techniques and an amazing tutorial with Lyn Diefenbach I Colour in Your Life

G’Day viewers, My Name is Graeme Stevenson and I ‘d like to invite you to come on a journey of creativity and learning, and adventure through this series, Colour In Your Life. There’s an artist in every family throughout the world, and lots of times there’s an artist deep down inside all of us as well, so grab your kids, your brothers, your sisters, your aunties, uncles and mums and dads, and come and see how some the best artists in Australia do what they do. (Music Plays) (Graeme) Welcome back viewers, and welcome back to Colour In Your Life. (Graeme) Well we are in Yeppoon in Queensland at the moment, with one of Australia’s Master Pastelist, (Graeme) a lady that does workshops all over the world, and when you see this woman’s work, I don’t think the superlatives (Graeme) of wonderful and beautiful and amazing come close… Lyn Diefenbach, welcome to Colour In Your Life. (Lyn) Oh, thanks for having me Graeme. It’s really great. I’m very excited today and I’m looking forward to it too. (Graeme) It’s going to be great. This lady, when you see the work as you go through, you’ll perfectly understand. (Graeme) She’s a world renowned teacher, travels all over the place to pass on her legacy of education to other people. (Graeme) Very, very talented woman. But you’ve really got a history of crafts people in your family, going way back, (Graeme) and then obviously the learning process and getting in touch, I mean, you’ve said to me before hand that (Graeme) I mean, your whole career is twenty-five years, but you’ve had three months of learning but it’s so important. (Graeme) So can you tell me a little bit about where you came from with your family, and those people that you ran into? (Lyn) Yeah. Well my mum and dad were creative people, and dad was a wood turner, mum was a potter, (Lyn) my oldest sister is a weaver of world renown, my second oldest sister does led lighting and everything, (Lyn) every craft known to mankind, as a Uniting Church minister as well, and my brother, he’s a Uniting Church minister, (Lyn) but he catches dirty big fish, and that is a craft and an art in itself. And the generations before were potters and painters, (Lyn) and I had a great Aunt Elsie, who was a painter and whose work I used to stand in front of, when I was a little child (Lyn) and I would say, “I am going to be an artist like great, great Aunt Elsie one day,” and so, that is what I set out to do. (Lyn) Really, that was all I wanted to do, wanted to be, was to be an artist. (Lyn) Apart from momentarily wanting to be an archaeologist, (Lyn) but then I decided I only really wanted to dig in the dirt, and so became a gardener instead. (Graeme) And a beautiful home and an amazing studio that’s right up on top of a hill that looks down over the Yeppoon area, (Graeme) which is really, really beautiful. What you wanted to do as well today is that you’re going to go through (Graeme) and show us one of your roses, one of your florals. (Lyn) Yep. (Graeme) But you felt that it was really important as a teacher, and that’s why this show is going to be really special, (Graeme) is that there are other things that you really need to show them in the process of getting to where you go to (Graeme) with the flowers themselves. And just about anything that Lyn does, whether it be oils or pastels, is quite amazing. (Graeme) But let’s go through these exercises. First off, it’s a sphere, and then getting your different colours and your tones. (Graeme) What we’re going to do is we’ve got a little table set up at the side here, so we’re going to go over there (Graeme) and then show you what you’re talking about as far as that’s concerned. (Lyn) Yep, great. (Graeme) Let’s go and do that. (Graeme) Okay, now this is the part that you’re going to show us on, how to do the background on the one you’ve already started on? (Lyn) Yep. (Graeme) And what sort of paper is this? (Lyn) This is Kitty Wallace paper. It’s aggressively sanded and you’ve got to be really careful with it. (Lyn) If you don’t get enough coverage of pastel it will make you bleed. But it holds a lot of pastel. It’s terrific to work with. (Lyn) So what I’m going to do, is I’m going to just… This is what I’ve done with the background of the painting underway up here, (Lyn) and I’m doing it because it’s going to curtail the time spent, because it’s got to dry. I’m just going to take some red, (Lyn) which is a type of a violetty colour, but I call it a red because it’s mostly red, and some green, and if you put red and green together (Lyn) you create this wonderful rich dark. Now the whole point of doing this is to also save some of the pastel (Lyn) that you have to use on this Kitty Wallace paper, because otherwise it just gobbles your pastel up. (Lyn) Now what I’m doing now is just taking some artist quality odorless solvent, putting it on my brush (Lyn) and pushing around the pastel, and pushing it into the surface, and that holds really nicely (Lyn) and actually lays a good foundation for the subsequent layers of pastel. (Graeme) Wow, that’s fantastic, isn’t it? And it’s just so strong as well. (Lyn) Yeah it is, but it dries dull unfortunately. I wish it stayed shiny but it doesn’t. (Graeme) Alright, so that’s the preparation for the behind, and now you want to show us the shapes that go into your work as well. (Lyn) Yeah, I want to be able to describe how to create the illusion of the three dimensional on the two dimensional surface, (Lyn) because that’s really important. I’m about creating the illusion of reality (Lyn) and so I certainly need to understand how to gain that illusion of three dimensionality. (Graeme) Let’s have a look at that then. (Lyn) Okay. (Graeme) Great. (Graeme) Okay Lyn, you’ve got your spheres up there. Now I do understand that when you look at a rose, (Graeme) it’s actually like a teardrop inside, isn’t it? (Lyn) Well yes, yeah. It’s got lots of round things on it though, that’s the whole point of doing a sphere. (Lyn) Some people call them flesh balls, which is terrible, but anyway, the whole point of doing it is just to be able to create (Lyn) the illusion of the three dimensional. Because everything on a flower, or everything on a face, (Lyn) or anything with any kind of roundness has, “How do you create that illusion?” Well it’s, in essence, spherical. (Graeme) Okay. (Lyn) So, I’m going to leave this as a circle, because it’s just a drawn circle. A circle like that, it’s flat. (Lyn) Here, I’ve got exactly the same circle, but I’m going to turn this into a sphere. And so, I’m going to use (Lyn) what’s called three tones, which are like, if you were looking at black to white, this would be quite close to black, (Lyn) then I’m going to another grey one, and I’m going to put on the second tone. (Lyn) And then I’m going to go to the lightest tone, which, on the grey scale, would be like white. (Lyn) And there we have something that looks spherical. And if I wanted to get to and refine it a little bit more, (Lyn) it could get rounder and rounder and rounder, and we have a nice bowling ball, and then you could put on a shadow (Lyn) and it would be seated on a table. So basically, in essence, that is what I’m doing when I’m creating form, (Lyn) the illusion of form, on a two dimensional surface. (Graeme) And you’re simply doing it with three colors? (Lyn) In this case it’s three. You can use three hundred, and sometimes I do. (Graeme) Sure, sure, definitely. (Lyn) But you only need three tones to create the illusion of form. (Lyn) Two tones will give you a flat pattern, but three tones will give you that illusion of form. (Lyn) If you look on your face with all the ins and outs, you’ve got light tones, mid tones, dark tones, underneath, (Lyn) as it comes to the light. The lightest point is on the end of your nose, because it sticks out the furthest. (Lyn) And so, if you read that tonal play properly, you will give the illusion of the three dimensional (Lyn) on the two dimensional surface. It’s a lot of fun. (Graeme) So we’re going to take that – and then in saying that, the extent of knowledge that you have is over decades. (Graeme) But we’re going to take some of the basics that we’re doing today (Graeme) and then turn them into one of these floral masterpieces of yours, (Graeme) and this is where it gets really interesting, because then you use all of those other colors as well. (Lyn) Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, color can be a little bit tricky sometimes. (Lyn) People get confused between colors, between color and tone, (Lyn) but I have a little method to unclutter that. You know, art’s not really all that mysterious in that (Lyn) there’s a lot of technical stuff in painting to create the illusion. (Lyn) Now if I’m talking about reds, I’ve got a number of reds here, but they’re all a little bit different. (Lyn) So we’ve got a blue red, we’ve got one with less blue in it, we’ve got another one with less blue in it, (Lyn) it’s getting more yellow in it, but they’re still all reds. Still all reds. And we’ve got one that’s even more yellow, (Lyn) and we can even go more yellow again, and that’s getting almost into your yellow altogether. (Lyn) Now all of these are basically reds, however when I look at my colors, when I identify my colors either in my reference photos (Lyn) or if I’m out on site, I look at the color and I think, “‘Oh, are you a red?” and then I say, “Oh, what sort of red are you?” (Lyn) “Are you a blue red, a yellow red?” or whatever. And it’s in its color association in its particular field there. (Lyn) And so, that really helps simplify this color business instead of talking warm and cool. Now talking tonally, (Lyn) I can also grab absolutely unrelated colors, and it can actually be the same tone, and in the way that if I then photographed (Lyn) all these different colors, stuck it through a black and white photocopier, (Lyn) they would actually all come out on the same grey scale. (Graeme) Well it’s fantastic information. How does it apply to the rose? (Lyn) Okay, well let’s get the rose up there. (Graeme) Fantastic. (Lyn) So what I’m going to do is I’m going to turn it upside down. Not for the fact of seeing it in a different light, (Lyn) but the fact that when you put pastel on it falls, and so, I don’t want the dust of the dark dust (Lyn) going all over my drawing in the middle, otherwise I’d never be able to come up with the right painting in the end. (Lyn) And this is the same darks, so Quinacridone violet. I just want to get that down rapidly, (Lyn) and I’m going to incorporate a little bit of a different green in there, just to give a nice little glow into the corner here. (Lyn) So, there’s not gonna just be a flat background. It’s going to have a bit of movement and a little bit of interest. (Lyn) Okay, now, with that, then I’m going to get in with my hand. Now some people are against this, (Lyn) but this is the way I create the things I do, and my hand, I will never lose it and it’s always here. (Lyn) I constantly wash my hands so that I don’t get too much absorption of pastel dust, and I always have this piece of paper towel (Lyn) in my hand to keep it clean. So I’m just going to get in on the side and rub that in, (Lyn) and fuse the colors together. You can see the amount of dust falling off there.(Graeme) Yep. (Lyn) Now, if I had that up the other way, that dust would go all over my rose, and it would have been a waste of time drawing it (Lyn) because I wouldn’t be able to find it. And so, I’m just coming in on the corner… Now within your hand (Lyn) there’s some definite strengths and weaknesses, and one of the things about blending, there’s blending and there’s blending. (Lyn) A lot of pastel artists say, “Don’t blend because you’ll obliterate the colors,” but what I’m doing is actually tickling. (Lyn) I’m tickling the pigments together. I’ve got an extremely light touch and it’s like a dance; it’s like a hyperactive dance (Lyn) over the surface and just pulling those pigments together. And you get this nice, out of focus blurry kind of look. (Lyn) Okay, well let’s turn this up the other way so that we can see what’s happening and actually get in to the flower itself, (Lyn) and so I’m gonna go and whack in some of these yellows that I can see here. I do have to be a little bit careful. (Lyn) I don’t want to lose my drawing, because my drawing is my road map, and if I lose my road map, I lose my way. (Lyn) Everything is about creating that illusion of form, and so, right at this stage, I’m looking at that, and so, that I start getting (Lyn) the feel of the form of the flower. I’ll go and get a lemon yellow now, which has got more blue, (Lyn) it’s leaning more toward the blue spectrum, as opposed to this red yellow, and I’m just going to walk that on. (Lyn) You can see around this area where it’s more lemony. (Lyn) I’m going to now go into pinks, and start establishing these other little pink areas on this beautiful rose. (Lyn) Now, I’m going to change the type of pink that I’m using, because this is a paler pink and I’m just going to walk that through that area. (Lyn) So now, I’m going to start just getting in some shadow colors, and I’m going to use a purple; a type of purple color, (Lyn) it’s a great old color, and I’m going to just drag it ever so gently, with what I call a whisper of pressure, (Lyn) the analogy would be one hair tickling across your face. (Lyn) That sort of feeling, because I don’t want to deliver too much of this, you know? If I pressed really hard, you can see here… (Graeme) Yep. (Lyn) See the coverage. Here, you can still see the paper popping through. The thing about pastel, you can go back and forward, (Lyn) back and forward, over and over and over it, and build it up as long as you don’t press too heavily initially. (Lyn) And what you’re doing in working with pastels is you’re working with the purest form of pigment known to mankind. (Lyn) It’s exactly the same pigment as oils, exactly the same pigment as watercolor, but a different binder, (Lyn) and so, it’s one of the earliest painting media. And it’s just a little bit seductive, (Lyn) and so quick and spontaneous. Like I’m an oil painter too, as you’re aware. (Lyn) When I’m painting in oils, I probably spend an hour mixing my palettes before I even start painting. (Graeme) Yep. (Lyn) I like to have all my colors, all my tones of every color that I’m seeing in my subject is there. (Lyn) Where as with my pastels, I can just pick them up. I can pick all the elements up and put them up here. (Graeme) And part of the fantastic repertoire that you’ve got, apart from the fact that you do florals, (Graeme) I mean, you also do seascapes and portraits. Now we’re just screening up some of your other floral work as well. (Graeme) ‘Pure Joy’, magnificent piece of work, and ‘Going Native’. Now what type of plant is that? (Lyn) That’s a Banksia. Lot of the Australian natives are extraordinarily complex in their nature, (Lyn) simply because they’ve got such harsh conditions to deal with. (Graeme) I mean the ‘Tapestry of Light’, which is… (Lyn) It’s the White Waratah, yeah. (Graeme) Yeah. And you’re just sort of looking at all of these little… tiny little details. It’s amazing. (Lyn) And it again is about the multiple layers of light. But we’re going to get into the heart of the matter now, (Lyn) the heart of the matter being the eye, or the center of the rose. Because it all comes from this. (Lyn) Well, it unfurls from out here, but then it keeps unfurling, unfurling, unfurling, unfurling, and so, we need this little deep central area. (Lyn) It’s very much like the eye of the flower. Your eye will always catch there, and so, we need to make it work. (Lyn) And I’ve got to get down some of these little dark areas, to create the illusion of forms and ripples and rolls. (Lyn) Basically with pastels, you work from dark to mid tone to light, basically, although you can go back and forward as well. (Lyn) I’ve got to keep this dark enough in here, so that the light does its work. If I’m looking at sort of an orangey color, (Lyn) obviously orange is made up of red and yellow, and so, I’m putting elements of both in there. (Lyn) Sometimes, you could go just directly to the color, but I find that it’s actually more interesting (Lyn) if you use the elements of the color rather than the one single color. (Graeme) Yes. (Lyn) That you put the two colors in there. So it’s just, “bit-by-bit, inch-by-inch, row-by- row, gonna make my garden grow,” is what I say. (Lyn) And you’ve got to find your way through all this little maze of tiddles and diddles and allude to it or try and make it look believable. (Lyn) So again using – this is a very pale mauve, but it gives this lovely, sort of a dreamy sort of quality, (Lyn) because going in over the yellows and the oranges underneath, it’s basically the complimentary color, (Lyn) the opposite on the color wheel and so, it’s subduing the brightness and just leaving a lovely, dreamy quality to it. (Graeme) I’ve had a look at some of your other work as well, and you’ve got a series that you’ve put together called (Graeme) ‘Reflections on a Journey’, with some fantastic pieces that you did in Venice and other locations. (Graeme) One called ‘Behind the Mask’, another one called ‘Just Passing Through’, and also another beautiful piece called (Graeme) ‘Just Searching for Home’. Can you tell me a little bit about the emotional response behind those and why you’re doing them? (Lyn) Yeah, they’re my very, very personal series, and I came to the conclusion that I wanted to do something like that. (Lyn) They’re going to take me the rest of my life, something that I can do forever and amen, that’s about me, (Lyn) it’s about my journey, where I’ve been, where I’ve gone, come from, and also my own philosophies and my own thinking, (Lyn) which I think is really important for an artist to be able to do. One of the things I find a lot of fun to do, with the florals in particular, (Lyn) is doing dewdrops, and I’ve become known for doing dewdrops. Sometimes for me the water droplets are more fascinating (Lyn) than the flower itself. There’s no recipe for doing dewdrops unfortunately. Every dewdrop is different, (Lyn) depending on what the light source is doing, depending on what the surface that it’s sitting on, (Lyn) but I’m going to do a couple of different sorts. I’m going to do one that’s trembling on the edge, (Lyn) which is just simply a little arc of light, like so. You’ve got to make sure it looks rounded. Just poke it in. (Lyn) And then, its got a little touch of light where it’s getting caught, just at the edge. It’s a little bit strong so I’ll just prod it in. (Lyn) But I’ll do a different sort down here, one that casts shadow, because the light’s coming this way, (Lyn) so it would be acceptable and believable to actually cast a shadow down this way. (Lyn) So I’ll do the shadow first, like so, the long shadow, and then whilst that’s in my hand I’ll just very lightly (Lyn) with a whisper of pressure put in an influence of that color for the outside edge of the dewdrop. (Lyn) And then I’m gonna just, sort of, push that in, and then I’m gonna drag it over, (Lyn) and then I’m going to put in just a little rim of light that catches down in the base of the dewdrop. (Lyn) And so the final thing we’re going to do is just put in the little bright touch of light. Ting. (Lyn) And there we have a nice little dewdrop shimmering, all aquiver, on the rose petal. (Graeme) And I also think Lyn, with your ability, that your workshops are a must for people. (Graeme) Now you’ve taught in Italy, UK, Scotland, France, Greece, New Zealand, and the American workshop (Graeme) that you’ve got coming up next year was booked out in forty minutes when people knew that you were coming over. (Graeme) So I think that that’s a great indication of the skill that you can pass on to people, and obviously the people that are in America (Graeme) will want to see more of you if they’re that enthusiastic about what you’re doing. (Lyn) I was, yeah, very excited. I can’t wait to pass on what I’ve gleaned and what I know, (Lyn) because that’s the whole point of it isn’t it? There’s not much use of holding on to it for yourself. (Lyn) Might as well get everyone else enthusiastic and the more the merrier. (Graeme) Fantastic. It’s a great thing that you’re doing. (Lyn) I like lighting the spark in other people that’s for sure. And I feel that my teaching is actually my service back into the community. (Lyn) My painting’s my own private meditation and spiritual activity, but teaching, I go and I give back to the community. (Graeme) Now, if people in all of those countries, Australia, particularly America, (Graeme) if you want Lyn to come along and show you her skills, what is your website address? (Lyn) My website address is So I’m just getting these colors down, and again, each area is a little puzzlement (Lyn) of color, of tone, of line, of edge. Everything comes under those banners of consideration, (Lyn) and then, once you’ve got all of that, it sounds very technical, when in actual fact, this is the technical area of painting, (Lyn) but without knowing the technical areas of painting, you really can’t… you haven’t got a platform for self expression. (Lyn) This is giving us information that then can help me give voice to my artistic inspiration. (Lyn) But this is the platform on which the world will see me. This is where my delight is, in expressing who I am, (Lyn) what I love, where I’ve been, is all through my painting. (Graeme) Okay guys, fantastic day, and as you can see we’re just screening up the finished piece that Lyn has just done. Lyn, fantastic day. (Lyn) Thank you. (Graeme) I mean the one thing that I really love about this lady is her philosophy towards life, (Graeme) and obviously giving back to the community, and obviously all of the workshops that you’re doing overseas. (Graeme) Your website address again? (Lyn) (Graeme) And make sure you come and see Lyn and get in touch (Graeme) because there’s not too many people that can do pastels like this on the planet, (Graeme) as far as I’m concerned anyway. If you want to come and see all of the other great artists that we’ve got you can come to (Graeme) and you can also see us on Facebook again. But once again, thank you so much for having us in the studio. (Lyn) My pleasure. (Graeme) As always guys, we’re heading off again, mid North Queensland, but we’re going to go somewhere else this time. (Graeme) But thanks for tuning in, and remember, make sure you Put Some Colour In Your Life. We’ll see you next time. (Lyn) Bye all! (Graeme) Bye now! Bye!

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