Hello there. Let me introduce myself. My name is Katharine Laird and I’m a pastel artist.

I’ve been painting with pastels for about ten years and I’m completely self-taught. I’m passionate about soft pastels but perhaps more importantly, I’m fully committed to sharing my skills and knowledge of pastel painting with others. It’s why of the four art groups at which I teach, one is solely dedicated to pastels.

Recently the SAA asked me to be an ambassador for their own range of  pastels. This is an easy task as I like the SAA’s pastel range enormously and they form the basis of my pastel stock.

Even more recently the SAA invited me to do a ‘Blog’. I’m not computer technical. Never done one before but here goes. This is me doing a blog.

My style of painting is much the same irrespective of the subject matter. I have a mantra I use (for myself and when I’m teaching) Colour-shape, Shape-colour. That’s perhaps not what is taught at Art College but my aim is to encourage people who have never done any art before to give it a go. To simplify the process by first looking at ‘Shape and Colour’. I also encourage people who struggle with the drawing aspect to use a tracing mechanism. ‘Tracedown’ works for me, and I’ve said on numerous occasions – it’s not cheating, it’s accurate and coincidentally helps improve drawing skills eventually.

For the actual ‘demonstration’ and since we’re coming up to that time of year, I thought I would do something ‘seasonal’ and so I’ve chosen a sprig of holly (thanks to my pal Judy for the photograph).

In addition to the obvious colours of reds and greens I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to use the SAA’s new ‘Pearlescent’ pastels of Gold, Silver and Copper.

Below is my initial drawing (using Tracedown) on Pastelmat paper- white A3


Because I’m right-handed I generally ‘paint’ in pastels from left to right and top to bottom. It’s worth having a piece of tracing paper to prevent any smudging


I’m using AP1563 (perm green deep) for the darker areas of the leaves plus AP0135 (deep green tint 5) to further darken these areas. I’ve started to highlight the leaves using pearlescent silver (AP049) and a little light yellow (AP2268).

For the berries I am using Indian Red (AP0915) and English Red Tint 7 (AP2287).

Follow my blog for the completed picture and a preview of what’s coming next.