Pastel painting techniques and tutorial with Barbara Beasley-Southgate I Colour In Your Life

Pastel painting techniques and tutorial with Barbara Beasley-Southgate 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) Well, hi guys and
welcome back to Colour In Your Life. (Graeme) Well we’re back in Victoria and we’ve
got, I think a really, really special day today. (Graeme) We’re with a lady – Barbara
Beasley-Southgate. Thanks and welcome to the show. (Barbara) Thank you Graeme,
and welcome to my world. (Graeme) That’s fantastic. We’re in Barb’s studio,
and you really are one of the Grand Dames
of Pastels in Australia. (Barbara) Yes, Okay. (Graeme) That’s the best way I can describe it.
After 50 odd years of doing what you do
and and being a teacher, (Graeme) and having accolades, and
exhibitions overseas, and awards, we
are lucky enough to be here today. (Graeme) If you like Hans Heysen’s work,
Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts, you’re going
to love this show today. (Graeme) Because this woman is an amazingly
talented human being. And Barb’s an effficienter
of oils and watercolors, but why pastels? (Graeme) Why did you go towards pastels? (Barbara) Well I tried painting in pastels many years
ago. Somebody had gifted me with a little box, (Barbara) and I played around with them
I looked at what I did and thought, “Not for me.”
They’re very scratchy looking bits of work. (Barbara) But one, day I went to a demonstration
and saw a professional pastel artist
by the name of Helen Sharp (Barbara) do a demonstration; and I thought, “Oh!”
the penny dropped. “That’s how you do it! Wow.” (Barbara) So, I quickly raced home
and set up a little still life. I haven’t looked back.
I just, “I love this – this is brilliant.” (Barbara) So the next day, I was out
buying a few more pastels, and so on, yeah. (Graeme) And when was that?
20, 30 years ago? (Barbara) Oh yes, it would
have been mid 80’s. (Graeme) Okay, okay, but when you see
what Barb does during the show today, (Graeme) there are obviously people that
paint and we have some amazingly talented people
on Colour In Your Life. (Graeme) When you see how she takes
pastels and utilises light and color, (Graeme) it’ll blow you away. It’s going to be
most amazing. But let’s – it’s a gum tree
(Barbara) Yes. (Graeme) which I love. (Graeme) Very, very iconic Australian landscapes.
You’re going too love this show I guarantee it. (Graeme) But I’m going to step out of the picture,
and I’m going to let Barb take us on the journey. (Graeme) I’ll be asking you some questions
as we go along. (Barbara) Okay Graeme. (Graeme) Very interesting history I can
assure you, and we’ll see you create this masterpiece.
(Barbara) Okay, thank you. (Graeme) Thank you. (Graeme) Well you’ve already got it mapped out,
but this is obviously a scene that you’ve
taken a photo somewhere? (Barbara) Yeah. Yes It’s at
Woori Yallok here in the Dandenongs (Graeme) Very, very pretty area. So where
do we go from here then, if that’s the case? (Barbara) Well, because I’m working on black
paper, I usually like to start with a few lights (Barbara) and then block in a few of the mid values.
Because the black paper, leaving the black as the darks, (Barbara) they stand out, so it does the
job for me. It’s totally the opposite working with
black as you work with light. (Barbara) I use the pastel lightly to begin with,
just to give me an indication of where I want
to, you know, place some of the stuff (Barbara) and from there, I can sort of perhaps
go in somewhere around here. Put a few
lights in for the sky area… (Graeme) You really do map in the overall
effect. I mean you don’t just concentrate
on one area do you? (Barbara) No I don’t. And it doesn’t matter
if you put things in the wrong place. That’s
the great benefit of pastel, (Barbara) you can take it off if it doesn’t work.
So from there, yes, we’ve got a few lights down
here, haven’t we, where we’ve got the water (Barbara) that’s maybe not the exact color,
(Graeme) Yep. (Barbara) but like I said it doesn’t matter –
put some other colors. Sometimes
I use a strokey fashion, (Barbara) and other times, I use the side of the
pastel. It just depends, I let the painting basically
dictate to me the way I want to work it. (Barbara) So, I have to look at the subject
and work out for myself which way do
I want to do this? And in a case like this (Barbara) where you’ve got a lot of foliage
and that sort of thing, it doesn’t matter. (Barbara) You can sort of get in and use –
I’ll just pick out a green here, say for some
reason, put it on in a strokey fashion like that, (Barbara) and so on, and so forth.
So, we’ve got all sorts of bits and pieces
happening and some of the lighter greens. (Barbara) As you can see, you can put light
over dark, and dark over light. The dominant
focal point of this painting is of course the tree. (Barbara) And so, just because this is dark,
we want a mid tone, that tonal value in here.
That’s a very strong color. (Graeme) Yep. (Barbara) But, that will be worked over and over.
Sometimes, I will come back with a dark, I use
black occasionally, (Graeme) Yeah. (Barbara) and just work the darker paints or
perhaps something a little bit warmer like that.
And even if that ends up too dark, (Barbara) I’ll still come over that at a later stage.
The other thing that’s important too that
I feel is the highlights. (Barbara) Even at this stage, I like to suggest –
well, maybe here which is going to be the edge
of the tree (Graeme) Yeah. (Barbara) to put these highlights on.
It just gives me a guide as to where
I need to place so, like that. (Graeme) And that’s one thing I’ve really
noticed about your work, and obviously as
the viewers see the landscapes (Graeme) come up, your play with light’s
just extraordinary, it really is. (Barbara) Yeah I love light, and I’m always looking
for that special fleeting moment that happens. (Graeme) Well, you really capture them,
and say, subtle sometimes. (Barbara) I’ll just put a little bit down there.
That’s not necessarily the final color, it’s just to
place basically something there. (Graeme) Sure. (Barbara) So we can sort of
get the whole thing going. (Graeme) So do you have a preference towards
which pastels are the best for you? (Barbara) I have a – Yes, I work with soft
pastels. I don’t mind the brand so much,
as long as it’s really soft . (Barbara) Particular pastel that I really like at the
moment is – well I like Schmincke, but the
Terry Ludwig pastels are really brilliant. (Barbara) They’re very soft, but they have range
of pastels were you have the – or set of greys and
a set of intense darks which are magic, (Barbara) because they’re so dark, and the colors
within the darks are beautiful, love them. (Graeme) That’s fantastic.
(Barbara) I could eat them.
[laughter] (Graeme) There you go. Actually
they do look, I was just saying before it
looks like a lolly store in here. (Barbara) Yeah. This is a darkish
grey-blue and this’ll represent the foliage.
As you can see, I’m scribbling it on. (Barbara) Now within that area there
are a few lights which are going to probably
go in like that. And then here, go up there (Barbara) and things like even a pink in
the distance, it just helps create the
atmospheric area of the distance, (Barbara) because that being the
focal point. I want to eventually push
what’s there, back. (Graeme) And it’s those cool colors. I mean
most people looking at a photo, they see the
blacks as black (Barbara) Yes. (Graeme) but they never really area are they?
(Barbara) No they’re not. (Graeme) Yeah. (Barbara) No. But look you know, once upon
a time, I would be so scared to use black, (Barbara) I wouldn’t use it, but
I find it very useful nowadays. (Graeme) After 50 years, I think you
might know what you’re doing now.
[laughs] (Barbara) Ah yes. I should do, but the
truth is, you never stop learning. I’m just
scrubbing a little bit of the foliage, (Barbara) a whole lot of broken or fallen
branches here and there’s a branch that’s
coming across here (Barbara) and this is all sitting
on the edge of the bank. (Graeme) But this really, it really verges on the
edge of impressionism. (Barbara) Yes.
(Graeme) It’s the way you create things. (Barbara) That’s right. Down here we’ve got
this tree which is reflected in the water, (Barbara) and in this dark part of
the bank we’ve got some foliage. (Barbara) I probably could have done with a,
I might shortly get another green, but that’s
basically just representing these little bits here. (Barbara) That pastels one I’ve made myself.
(Graeme) Oh is it? You just… (Barbara) I break them up from time to time if I
can’t get a color that I really want. I’ll get a mortar
and pestle and crunch them down. (Graeme) And then how do you
put them back together again? (Barbara) Just a few drops of water and just
work it is together, and make it a heavy paste
(Graeme) Yeah. (Barbara) Yeah, it worked good.
(Graeme) Oh, that’s amazing. There you go. (Barbara) So little bit by little bit. I’m going
to take this towel off because it’s falling off. (Barbara) Now, here we’ve got a few
little branches that come off the main branch,
and there’s little bits of things like that (Barbara) now it’s going into the detail, which I don’t
particular want to get into at this stage. (Barbara) I might just come back to that
background area here we go, and start to
establish a little bit more here. (Barbara) Using the blue like this, it helps in
the recession; it helps the painting recede.
(Graeme) Yeah. (Barbara) And blues, mauves, violets, any
anything like that, I’ll sort of come up with –
that’s foliage in the distance, it just disappears. (Graeme) Do you ever break, stop, consider,
sit and look, and then come back again? (Barbara) Yes, I do. Actually that’s a
very good point. I think it’s essential that
you have break from you’re work. (Barbara) Work for maybe half an hour,
an hour. Go and have a cup of coffee. (Barbara) Go right away from it, and
then come back and have a look at it. (Barbara) You have fresh eyes, and you see things
that you would normally not have seen, had you
been staying working with it too long, okay. (Barbara) And I’ve just established that bank,
that’s the grass in the distance.
(Graeme) Yeah. (Barbara) Now, I’ve got probably got a little bit
much of that green there, so we’ll get rid of it. (Graeme) So you use the paint brushes
is it, I mean, you’re obviously using that
to soften the details. (Barbara) No I don’t do that, no I was
just rubbing back some of the green
that I’d put on because what I wanted here, (Barbara) we’ve got a branch that’s coming
out, or coming out from the tree here, (Barbara) and that’s a bit light. But I just wanted
to have that nice clean bit of sky area just there,
against the branch. (Graeme) Okay. (Barbara) And I was picking up some of
that green, which didn’t seem to work.
And the same thing’s going to happen here. (Barbara) There’s a bit – probably I’ve come
down a bit far, so like I said, it doesn’t matter. (Barbara) You can change things, and you can rub –
I rub occasionally, but not so much these days. (Barbara) Once upon a time you used
to rub everything, and I heard that was a no-no,
but I don’t believe anything is a no-no these days. (Barbara) I really think it’s essential that you
do your own thing, and I learnt more by breaking
rules that by sticking to rules. (Barbara) Because if everybody painted the
same, it would be a boring old world. (Barbara) I’m just adding little bits and
pieces here: softening, lightening, darkening. (Barbara) And so, it goes on right
through the whole process. (Graeme) Well what we could probably do, is
we can let you continue on and sort of
(Barbara) Okay. (Graeme) probably bring it a little bit more
forward than where it is, and we’ll duck away and
come back shortly. (Barbara) Okay, Graeme. (Graeme) Okay Barb, well you’ve made some
fantastic progress, where do you go from here? (Barbara) Well, from here Graeme,
it’s just a question of letting the painting
emerge. So, it’s pushing and pulling (Barbara) and filling in and
doing all the finer detail work. (Barbara) And towards the end of the painting
is when you get up and very close, and I call
it becoming intimate with the painting. (Barbara) So, there’s times when I usually
like to sort of spend a little bit of time away
and just sitting and looking at it, (Barbara) which unfortunately, I won’t be doing
today. Buy yeah, so I’ll just keep on, keeping on.
(Graeme) Definitely. Excellent. (Barbara) Okay, All right, so we’ll start to add a
little bit more. I’ll start working back into some of
these rough areas in the sky. (Graeme) Yeah. (Barbara) And I’m really pushing the pastel in
now, but still trying to keep it as broad is I can. (Barbara) It’s very important when you’re
painting foliage to have a feeling that the
birds can fly through the foliage. (Barbara) You need to have that space, to have
sudden, heavy, dense pieces in your work,
doesn’t look very good. (Graeme) Sure. (Barbara) So, I – you know, my motto
is, “Try and keep it as realistic as possible,
but as paintly as possible.” (Barbara) So here we go, and go back
to some of these greens. (Barbara) I’ve always been fascinated
that you can get such fine lines with pastels
sometimes, but they seems so ungainly. (Barbara) Like large chunks of chalk but
you can get these fine lines when you need them. (Graeme) It’s amazing and I think its, you
have to be very delicate. It’s a delicacy in the
way that you apply the pastel. (Graeme) Sometimes, you have to go in very
lightly, hardly touching the paper, and at other
times you can push in quite heavily. (Graeme) Yeah, just what you’re doing there,
I mean I think the beauty of pastels is,
if you were using oils (Graeme) or even acrylics, you just couldn’t
sort of punch that color directly across the top.
(Barbara) No. (Graeme) And get the effect that you’ve just got. (Barbara) No. I do like to walk backwards and
forwards from the easel, so I can you know, relate
and see what I’m actually doing. (Graeme) Uh-huh. (Barbara) If you work too close, you
become totally bogged down in certain
areas, and that doesn’t always work, well. (Barbara) So I’ll just, it’s a fairly soft
area in there. Up here, there’s probably
little bits of sunlight just hitting the tree here, (Barbara) which comes down behind a bit,
that popping out like that there.
(Graeme) Yeah. (Barbara) And there’s some pealing bark that
comes down. Now bring the down, put the
highlight on the tree in quite a heavy fashion. (Graeme) Yes, you can really see
it standing out. My goodness. (Barbara) Yes, it’s starting to look
more like a gum tree now. There’s another
branch coming in here that’s sort of cutting in. (Graeme) I mean, I think the question that anybody
that would watch you doing what you do is, (Graeme) sort of like where to you start with
stuff like that? Just like that mat of dead bark. (Barbara) It’s not easy.
It’s not easy.
(Graeme) Yeah. (Barbara) I find that I just keep working.
It’s one stroke on top of another, because
pieces of bark overlap each other, (Barbara) so I can put a stroke here,
a light stroke here, a dark stroke there,
and the colored strokes in the middle. (Barbara) The colored strokes are important.
And these, these are just tiny little
sort of scrumbly areas, (Barbara) just establishing this pattern
of light that goes across here. (Barbara) I will possibly have to bring
some more darks into that later. (Graeme) Once again, you can see the importance
of the light in the picture. (Barbara) Yes. (Graeme) So, how would you say on a contemporary
situation instead of the old masters, (Graeme) is somebody that would have
influenced you greatly with your pastel work? (Barbara) Nobody in particular; believe it or not.
(Graeme) Okay. (Barbara) I know that sounds strange
I think it’s because I’m so, I’m just so much
into doing what I like to do myself, (Barbara) I find that sometimes
can be a bit distracting. I look at work,
I love the other artists work. (Barbara) Mary Cassatt for instance,
I think her work is just beautiful, but I spend
a lot of time looking at these things, (Barbara) but I can’t say that I’m
necessarily influenced by any of them. (Barbara) You know, there’s Monet and a
whole lot of other people like that but… (Graeme) It’s really like watching a Monet being
developed and then it moves on into being a
realist aspect. (Barbara) Yeah. Yes that’s right. (Graeme) You create that Monet
impressionism with the work initially. (Graeme) You know, when you read
about peoples careers is that, they sort
of generally, or they tend to be born into art. (Graeme) I was 5 when I new I wanted
to do it; you were 7. From humble
beginnings to a 50 odd year career and… (Barbara) Yes, it just happened that way.
But funnily enough, all through my childhood
and through my teen years, (Barbara) whenever I had time, I would
sit down and do a bit of painting, a drawing,
a watercolor, (Barbara) because it just something that I loved
to do, and I just seemed to know how to do it. (Graeme) But know, your work obviously
graces the walls of thousands of people. Actually
right across the world, (Barbara) Yes. (Graeme) not just Australia. You’ve had exhibitions
overseas as well, which is just fantastic. (Barbara) And I think you know, the important
thing for me is, I like my paintings to appear as
if you’re looking out the window (Barbara) at the scene, at the subject.
Just to capture that moment of time even
if it’s just a fleeting moment. (Graeme) Yeah. (Barbara) I guess that’s were the perfection
bit comes out, so I take it that step further, (Barbara) so that the viewer is looking
at something that’s real to them. (Graeme) Yeah, and it’s relaxing. I think the thing
I find about your work is it’s very cathartic. (Graeme) You can look into the picture and it’s like
you want to walk down to the edge of the piece
and step inside it and keep walking across. (Graeme) It’s fantastic. I’ve been looking
particularly with the picture with the cows (Graeme) and the gumtree at the back,
and the compositions just perfect. (Graeme) You know, some people might have the
tree smacked up in the middle of the picture, (Graeme) but you’ve just got all of your
characters placed in an area that is comfortable
for the viewer to look at. (Barbara) I think it’s a natural instinct
with me. I just seem to know what to do. (Barbara) Things have got to be in the right
place and balance is very, very important. (Barbara) So, yes, to place a tree in
the middle of a picture can be done. (Barbara) Believe me, I’ve tried it, because
I’m a rebel and the only thing I’m told I can’t do.
(Graeme) Okay. (Barbara) But however, for me it’s –
I do know – I have learnt the basic fundamentals
of drawing and that sort of thing, (Barbara) but I don’t think about it when
I’m painting. It’s like, “This is the way it is,
and this is how it’s going to be.” (Barbara) So, if it means changing
things a little bit to make it look right
for me, that’s how it goes. (Barbara) And as I’m finishing or getting
towards the end of – when I think I’ve
nearly finished off, I certainly go back (Barbara) and some of these heavier areas
that I’ve got big clumps of foliage in, (Barbara) I put the little windows
back through the painting. (Barbara) This is where the sharp edges are
handy, but I’ll see what I can do with this. (Barbara) That comes across, and there’s some bits
comes down there, and there’s another bit that, (Barbara) just a little bit of bark that’s catching
the light. You know, it’s sort of hit and miss.
(Graeme) That’s great, isn’t it? (Barbara) And I think that it’s also
very important when you’re putting
something together like this, you… (Graeme) But it’s that, you know sometimes
it can be just a line (Barbara) Yep.
(Graeme) that tells you what the painting is. (Barbara) Yes. This is were I do
occasionally just you know, rub back a bit. (Barbara) It’s occasionally,
I don’t always do it. (Graeme) Just the little
finger gets the job does it? (Barbara) Yeah it does. (Graeme) I just wanted to mention some
of the galleries that you exhibit in as well.
(Barbara) Yep. (Graeme) Brialyn Boathouse gallery in Frankston,
and the Original Oz Gallery at Mount Martha. (Graeme) The Sherbrooke Art Society Gallery at
Belgrave, Mont De Lancey, Wandin and your also
in the UK at Hawker Gallery in Amersham as well. (Graeme) So, obviously very wide spread.
Okay guys, another spectacular day, as you
can see Barb has actually finished the painting (Graeme) and has got this beautiful mount
around the outside, but it really pushes the
piece right back. It really looks spectacular. (Graeme) Thank you so much
(Barbara) Thank you, Graeme. (Graeme) for being on the show.
A wonderfully talented human being (Graeme) with just some magnificent
work of this great country that we live in.
It’s just so spectacular. (Graeme) Also before we go, you’ve obviously
been in a lot of publications over the years.
(Barbara) A few yes. (Graeme) You’re in Vic Pastel which is
the Victorian Pastel Society as well. (Graeme) So, if you want to pick up this
magazine it’s a fabulous magazine. (Graeme) Tells you tonnes and tonnes of things
about what’s happening with pastels in Victoria. (Graeme) Just amazing. If people want
to get in touch with you about your work,
I absolutely recommend that you come (Graeme) and talk to Barbara about this
because it’s amazing stuff.
What is your website address again? (Barbara) barbarabeasleysouthgate.com.au (Graeme) Go in there and have a look. As
always you can come to: colourinyourlife.com.au (Graeme) and see what we’re doing.
Facebook page: Colour In Your Life. (Graeme) We’ve also got tonnes of
DVD’s out these days, so come along and
learn of these amazingly talented people. (Graeme) Plus other artists, we have a
plethora I suppose you could say of artists,
that are calling us these days about what we’re doing. (Graeme) The show is starting to cross the
globe which I think is extremely exciting for
everybody that’s involved, it really is spectacular. (Graeme) But, we’re going to head off again,
as we always say, remember, (Graeme) Make sure you put some
Colour In Your Life. (Graeme) And we’ll see you next time.
(Barbara) Absolutely. (Graeme) Bye guys. Bye now.
(Barbara) Bye.

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