Pastel 15.5" x 23.5"When I first started doing large pastels and entering competitions and exhibiting in the mid 90s I had my artwork professionally photographed and 6 x 7cm transparencies produced.
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Recently I had these transparencies scanned and transferred to digital file. In doing so I saw an image again which I haven't seen easily for over 10 years - since I packed it up extremely carefully and shipped it off to a gallery in Florida where it sold. This was especially pleasing to me as, not only was it my very first sale, but I had a very appreciative gallery owner who told me how to price it and it sold for a rather large sum of money!
And to top if off this sale proved a rather nice twist to the end of a rather good story which other artists might appreciate.
I visited Andalucia in Spain in 1995 - on a painting holiday with Jackie Simmonds. We were based in Vejer de la Frontera and paid a visit to Ronda while we were there. I was very taken by the Palacio de Mondragon, its architecture and gardens. I produced a pastel painting nearly the same size as this one - which when viewed later in the day evidently lacked some understanding of architecture and perspective - despite the fact that the colour record was OK. All in all I regarded it as a bit of a disaster and a wasted day in production terms.
When I returned home, I got my photos developed and found that I had taken quite a few of the subject. Photos gave me information about the light at the beginning and the end of the drawing session and some detail about the archway. I decided to have a go at redoing it using the photos for the perspective and the colour study for the colour.
I photocopied one of my photos onto A4 paper - and got a greyscale image. I then plotted the photo on to a grid drawn out on an A4 sheet in my Daler Rowney sketchbook (Tip - always leave space to number your columns - you can go scatty while working from one grid to another if you don't!)
I then made a much smaller grid around the very complex architectural features of the arch and courtyard beyond. In doing this close-up study I began to understand much better how the architecture worked - which isn't always so apparent when working on site with the light changing. Mistakes can easily be made as in fact had happened.
I then created a grid of equal proportions on my sheet of abrasive Rembrandt pastel card and used a pastel pencil to outline the main features. Once I'd got positioning right, it was a lot easier to block in main values in colour and to develop the painting from there. It took away all the worry about whether it was going to look silly like the last one and enabled me to focus on the more painterly aspects.
I also used my brand new set of Unison Blue Green Earth pastels for the first time - and these helped to lend a unity to the painting. I was completely 'sold' on Unison pastel sets after doing this painting.
Palacio de Mondragon
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