Pastel painting techniques and tutorial with Christine Broersen | Colour In Your Life

Pastel painting techniques and tutorial with Christine Broersen | Colour In Your Life


G’day viewers, I’m Sophia Stacey, and welcome back to Colour In Your Life. I’m usually behind the camera, but I’m going to be hosting for the next few shows as Graeme recovers from shoulder surgery. So grab your kids, your brothers, your sisters, your aunties, uncles and mums and dads and come and see how some of the best Artists do what they do. (Music Plays) (Sophia) Today we’re in Shepparton, in Victoria, and I’d like to introduce you to Christine Broersen. Christine, welcome to the show. (Christine) Thank you, Sophia. Glad to have you here. (Sophia) When you see Christine’s work, you’ll see that she does beautiful still lifes. What inspired you to get into still lifes?(Christine) I’ve always done Art in one shape or another, and when the kids were little and I was housebound, still lifes were the only thing I could do. Just set up something that I’d find around the house. (Sophia) And I suppose pastels were a lot safer than painting oils. (Christine) Definitely. When little kids are around, you don’t want them finger painting on the wall with oil paint. Pastels, also, you can leave them and come back days later, and you don’t have to mix a new palette without worrying about paint drying up. (Sophia) You’ve won some fantastic awards over the years. And you’ve been doing this for a long time, which you can really tell with Christine’s ability to bring out the light, making it sparkle and shine. (Christine) Yes, it’s what draws me to it and people always ask oh, how do you do that? And my answer is it’s really only just colour, but you concentrate and keep referring to what you draw. (Sophia) And I think it’s about time we can have a look at what you do. (Christine) Terrific. (Sophia) Okay, thank you. (Sophia) Okay, Christine, so you’ve obviously made a start on it and just sketched it out. Where do we go next? (Christine) Well I have it set up here, and I’ll keep referring to that, and I’ve put in a shadow box because I like to control where the light comes from. I like the fact that the light hits the glass with the colour in it and it shines right across, and the cream background of the jug brings it to life. (Sophia) So, what sort of pastels do you use? (Christine) Soft pastels. My favourite would be Schmincke, Unison, Art Spectrum – all those. The are colours the most important part and the softness of the Schmincke’s, really give the last bit of highlights and special effects. It’s fantastic. (Sophia) And you’re working on black paper today. (Christine) Yeah, my preferred colour actually. Because I work from dark to light – blacks already there, so there’s my dark bit. And I can now build my painting up on the black, but in saying that it doesn’t matter what colour you use, it’s just my preference. (Sophia) With that black paper it really makes the still life pop, like the one A Gentle Glow, where you’ve got the candle and the teapot. (Christine) Basically, it’s like the old masters used to paint by candle light and there wasn’t a lot of light happening around the subject, just where they could get some light onto it. And back then of course, they didn’t have electricity, and that’s I think why I do some like that. They’re like they’re sitting on centre stage, and they’re the main focus and the lights coming onto them but not severely. (Sophia) So where do we start with this piece today? (Christine) Believe it or not, with a black pastel. (Sophia) Oh my goodness, okay. (Christine) This is very grey compared to the black I will end up doing. I’m just going to put in my shadow part of the jug. (Sophia) So does the black just help you blend the other colours with it? (Christine) Yes, it does. And I’m one of those pastelist who do blend. I don’t like rules. (Sophia) Bit of a rule-breaker, Christine; bit of a rebel. (Christine) I’ll do whatever it takes to make the painting work. Pastels, they’re such a terrific medium. You can blend them with your finger tips – or not. That’s up to you; it’s a personal choice. I get my effect by actually blending the colours together. Basically what works for you, and over the years if you do it long enough you’ll find out, no, don’t do that again. They’re not mistakes, they’re just learning tools. Well, I’m just going to use my mahl stick here to steady my hand. I don’t have a steady hand to do something like that, and if there was colour there I would just smudge it, so I use my mahl stick to get little, intricate details worked out. And I want to put my glass top in because I don’t want to loose it. It’s so hard to an oval. And when I’ve done the glass, I use my ruler. I’ve gone to the very straight edge over here, use that as a guide because I need it to be symmetrical. So I find the centre, put a couple of dots down, draw a line, and from that centre reference line I can keep checking if I’m doing my glass symmetrical. This ones got a bit of a different shape, but I still need to find that it’s working and keeping in its right spot. (Sophia) So just that splash of colour in there to get you started? (Sophia) Yes, that’s all it takes and I’m trying to get the jug to go through or come out this side of the glass. (Sophia) So just layer, upon layer, upon layer. (Christine) Yeah, just keep going. If it doesn’t work with that colour, try another one. You can’t really go wrong – can’t make mistakes. And if you do this is so important to me, this kneadable eraser. I can make a firm tip on it. I can get into little tiny parts. I can manoeuvre the pastel, I can take it away. It’s an extension of my finger and its better than a paint brush. I’m not paying much attention to the perfection of the end product here – I’m just trying to get the colours to work. (Sophia) And what sort of pencil have you got there? (Christine) It’s a charcoal pencil, it’s a Faber Castell. (Sophia) That gives you a sharper line dose it? (Christine) Yes, yeah, it’s terrific, I’ve got to keep them sharpened of course. But depending on what background colour you’re using, I’m going to put this line in on white cause I don’t want the black to be to out there. As I said, I’m not worrying about the detail, I just want to block in my subject and eventually you go over it, and over it and you’ll get your details worked in. And I’m just blocking in at the moment. (Sophia) You said the nasturtiums where from your garden. They’re a lovely splash of colour though aren’t they? (Christine) Oh yes, they are beautiful. So I’m just putting in the colours that I want in the nasturtium. They aren’t in the right place yet, but I’m getting – building it up and then eventually I’ll just go and put the details in. And with this nasturtium, I want it to catch the light that comes through on the edge. I’ll be putting a lovely bright colour so that it looks like the lights come and hit that part of the petal. I usually put my highlights on last, but sometimes I just need to see if it’s working. I’m not keeping it neat and tidy because I intend to put a dark background here, so if I smudge this it doesn’t matter. But if I didn’t want it to smudge and I wanted to use the paper, I would be continuously using my mahl stick to keep my hands off it. All of this comes in at the last bit, the fine tuning of the drawing, otherwise I’d be bogged down forever. I want to block in my painting and then come in later on with the fine detail. (Sophia) And as you were saying it’s just colour on paper really to begin with, but you’re trying to make a two dimensional appear to the viewer like three dimensional. (Christine) And that comes into those little fine bits the details, the reflections the highlights and making the jug look round. (Sophia) You’ve got another one here Christine, called Copper Tea Pot. (Christine) And if you look at the copper tea pot you’ll see it’s just a big apple with a different colour tone to it. I’ve done a lot of apples over the years and I’ve found that they are fantastic for honing in your skills with pastels. You can get the shadow and the light where it can really do well. You can do different coloured apples – it doesn’t matter. But they’re great practice, every things got like the skin of the apple has a lovely shine on it. People who love to start off with pastels, if you get an apple and sit it there and practice with your pastels, it doesn’t matter whether you use the top of it, the side of it, but if you go around in the direction that the apples formed – half you’re work is done. And it’s a great practice and yes, you’ll see a lot of apples in my work; I think they’re a great thing to do. (Sophia) They look amazing. (Christine) Thanks. (Sophia) You’ve actually won a few major Art prizes, and one of them was through the Australian Guild of Realist Artists. Can you tell us a bit more about that? (Christine) I joined the Australian Guild of Realist Artist, which most people call AGRA, for short, quiet a few years ago. And my first painting – pastel painting, I got a Highly Commended for and I thought it was amazing, because you’re up against some pretty cool Artists. And the second one, I won First Prize. If you win an award, it’s a great confidence booster. It helps you want to do more, and want to improve and… (Sophia) We’re got one here called Dried Arrangement, those beautiful roses – you can see why your Art is so popular. (Christine) You got to really enjoy what you’re doing. There’s no point in putting up a still life and going this is not working – it’s ugly. Get something that inspires you, something pretty, whatever it takes and have a go. (Sophia) So, Christine you were telling us that you, Art has been in your life since you were a child. And you’ve got a great story about going to the corner shop and exchanging bottles for a stick of chalk. (Christine) True. People my age will appreciate the story because our pocket money was the empty soft drink bottles. And the corner shop sold just your black board chalk, and my favourite thing was to go around there and get a new stick of chalk and red was always beautiful. And when the shop keeper put it in the bag – the little white lolly bag it was just …that memory stayed with me forever. And it’s the same feeling I get when I go into an Art shop, and I’m standing in front of rows of beautifully coloured pastel. I always remember that lovely little trip to the shop to get my new chalk. And I’m sure most Artist whether they do pastels, or oils, or water, have that same feeling of joy when they see them in front of them. I’m just very aware of the blending I’m doing. And I’m also sure that there are people out there cringing, but it works for me. And I’m not pushing too hard, I’m making sure I’ve got enough pastel on the paper to move it around gently. But I find I can get a lot of different shades of colour when I blend them together, without having to completely change the stick of pastel in my hand. (Sophia) Everybody’s going to have their own techniques and rules, but I think there’s a lot of people that get stuck with having to do it a particular way. But that’s when you create your own fine work, pieces like Pretty In Pink. (Christine) Yes, it has tissue paper around it. And I took it out of he box, it was packed with that tissue paper, and I took it out and sat it on the tissue paper and said: that’s my next pastel. (Sophia) It’s absolutely exquisite and it’s so feminine. And Pretty Things is another one; it actually creates a real emotion in your work. (Christine) It’s lovely for you to say that, Sophia. I’m laughing because I’ve got a story. Those pearls were brought at a school fate for twenty cents. (Sophia) Oh, really? (Christine) My daughter brought them and they’ve been in probably about four or five different paintings, but I thought what a cheap prop – twenty cents. (Sophia) There must be quiet a bit of fun too, to go and source all these bits and that pieces you put in your work? (Christine) It is, it’s great fun and my husband is usually tagging along with me; I don’t think he thinks it’s so much fun. But when you buy something that’s old and it’s got character in it and you’re only paying a small amount. I have a cupboard chock-a-block full of all the props that I’ve gotten over the years in second hand shops especially. (Sophia) And your husband is actually dearest Marcel, he’s a really great support for your Art. (Christine) He hasn’t got much choice. No, he is, he’s terrific. He’s one of my biggest fans. (Sophia) And he has even set up a fantastic spot for you to hold your Art workshops. (Christine) That’s right, yeah. (Sophia) He’s got an engineering business here in Shepparton, and he’s set up this fantastic spot, and you get to be close to your husband. (Christine) Oh, well, he’s down there working hard, I’m upstairs with a group of lovely people who want to learn. Well the easels in the workshop, my husband made them for me. And I like to have my pastels nearby and you can’t always have bulky things, so we went out and brought cake tins. And we put them on the side of the easel and so you’ve got your supply of colours right where you want them, so you don’t have to keep going backwards and forwards. (Sophia) And so if people do want to get in touch with you about your workshops, and it’s not just pastels that Christine does, she does all sorts of different mediums. But, Christine, what’s your website address? (Christine) Christine Broersen dot com. (Sophia) So viewers, you can go and have a look at Christine’s website, and it’s got all your magnificent pieces of Art on there as well for viewers to purchase. But you can also go and contact Christine and see if she has some space available in one of her workshops. (Christine) I’m now just marking out the lip of the jug. Instead of putting a pencil or charcoal on there that may smudge too much into the colour, this is actually doing the job for me. (Sophia) Taking it off rather than… (Christine) Yes, taking it off and making a line for me, and I’ll just colour that in eventually. I find when I’m doing intricate pieces that I hold my breath. (Sophia) It’s just keeping the hand steady because your chest actually as you’re breathing moves your hand doesn’t it? (Christine) That’s right, this is so handy to have the stick here though. Now if I had finished this, the last thing I will do, is because I want colour in and put some black in there, and use a bit of light grey to form the shadow and the light source coming through, I would turn it upside down. Because leaving it like this and putting the pastel on, it just goes straight on the actual painting and it’s… you’ve wasted your time basically. This way it’s going to drop into the tray here and not all over the painting. (Sophia) Yeah, we don’t want that. (Christine) It’ll just be a waste of your time. And black’s not really grey, but to fill in this whole area with black is daunting, but at the end of the day it’s the drama I want to create and it works, and it’s yeah, it’s beautiful. It’s just hard work getting to fill in all this space. So I will fill in all of this, thinking not all the way because it won’t be framed all the way, but I keep an idea on what I want framed. Give it a good fill in and then just gently blend the black. And if I go around and into the handle, that doesn’t matter because I’ll come back and fine tune all that. Now I’ve got a bit of black on my finger I can actually put a bit of shadow on the handle. I do that a lot, I keep referring back to different colours with my fingertip. If I got a bit of discolour here and I want that somewhere probably at the top. Turn it up again, just to get the shadow in. That was a better move than the the first time. So you can see even now with I’ve done the back part – that’s not finished at all. But you can see that the pastels dropped through there, and it’s just a matter of cleaning it up, taking some off, and now I can work on the shadow of the jug. And I’m going to put some a little bit of pale colour over here, the light coming through that way. (Sophia) And do you spray your work at all once you’re finished? (Christine) No, I don’t like to use the spray. I don’t apply too much pastel on there to need it, cause some people use it to help fix the next layer of pastel on. And I’ve been told that over the course of time the spray dulls the colours so I don’t use it. So basically what I would do is just blend this to give me, make my eye see that the lights coming through the shadows here, and the light continues through. And this little highlight there is to give you the idea that there is more happening over here somewhere. And I’ll quiet happily go over the petals on this, because I can come back and put them back on. (Sophia) And here comes those little highlights coming in on the lighter colour coming in on those flowers, just to give it that dimension. (Christine) Yes, I think what I like to do is for anything I’m doing I usually put at least three colours in. Even if the colours are complimentary in the same tone or colour they make it look more three dimensional. They sort of bring out the character of the thing, cause when you look at something it’s never just one colour. It’s not really to do with the shadow coming around, it’s just to do with the formation of the picture. Three colours at least I put into each thing, so I’m not afraid to get rid of some of the outline of the leaves. I’ll come over them later on – fine tune them up. I have here Conte de Paris pastel pencils, and I’m not afraid or ashamed to use them. They are such a great tool to get into the tiny little crevices, and they actually help with the petals, and if you’re doing a portrait get into the eyes a bit. And as I’m about to do now, I’m going to try and outline with a little bit of help from the pencil, the petals on this nasturtium. (Sophia) As you said it doesn’t really matter what you use it for. (Christine) No. (Sophia) It’s all about achieving what the end result. (Christine) Exactly. I’ve seen people use palette knifes with painting, their fingers with painting, sponges with painting. So, why can’t I use a pencil and a fingertip for pasteling? (Sophia) Absolutely. (Christine) I use artistic licence I don’t always copy what I’m, like, to the grain of what I’m looking at. I do add a little bit of here and there. For instance, there was not a lot of light coming in on this, but I make sure I put some in there. I wanted that dramatic effect of the colour. (Sophia) That’s what it’s really about isn’t it? Is being able to use what you have but to create the best composition possible. (Christine) I think over the years you can learn what works and what doesn’t. And I would not have had the confidence to just put that in there once. I would have had to have it actual, and then copy off it. But now I’ve got an idea of where I want things and how to draw them, I can actually cheat a little bit. (Sophia) Well I think you made a really good point about being confident (Christine) Confident, yes. (Sophia) with your paintings which comes from practice. (Christine) Exactly. (Sophia) Knowing your craft… (Christine) I’m just going to basically add a little bit of a orange in there – I don’t want a lot, and using the pencil cause it’s such a small space and it’s a lot easier to do it this way. (Sophia) With the beauty of television, we’re screening up the final one; it’s just an exquisite piece. Thanks so much for being on the show today, answering all your wonderful tips. (Christine) Well, it was my pleasure, Sophia. Thank you. (Sophia) Well viewers, another great day in another fantastic Artists home. Well, cause you’ve got your studio around the corner, but we’ve been in your home today. So thank you so much, Christine for having us here. (Christine) You’re welcome, Sophia. (Sophia) And look, if people want to come and see more of your work, and get in touch with you about workshops, your website address again? (Christine) Christine Broersen dot com, and my Facebook page is Christine Broersen Art. (Sophia) And also come to colour in your life dot com dot au and our Facebook page, which is actually where you found (Christine) That’s right. (Sophia) Colour In Your Life wasn’t it? But as we always say – remember: make sure you put some colour in your life, and we’ll see you next time. Bye. See you. Bye. (Christine) Bye.

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