My name is Warren Sealey. I am an artist from Bristol and I paint mainly in oil, but I do use pastel and watercolour at times. I'd like to take you through my pastel portrait technique in a step-by-step project which will illustrate the stages I go through to complete a painting.

This is a portrait of my good friend James Scrase who is a fantastic painter who trained with the great Pietro Annigonni in the 70`s in Florence. I too trained in Florence (not in the 70s though!).

We often go out in the summer painting together around the south west and he has such a characterful face. I had wanted to paint him for quite a while and I have finally got round to it.

Step 1
I have used a dark brown pastel pencil on green Canson pastel paper which is my preferred choice. I usually start with a careful and accurate line drawing and only move on once this is as accurate as I can get it.

Step 2
I now mass in the shadows in a warm brown colour, switching to Conte pastels. I'm not too concerned with getting the exact colour yet as I'm just trying to separate light from dark.

Step 3
This is my under painting stage and I'm still using Conte sticks at this point rather then soft pastels. Because the Conte sticks are quite hard, soft pastels can clog the paper up pretty quickly so I leave them until later. This stage usually looks pretty strange, but it is the building blocks to the finished painting.

I put green in cool and receding areas; red in warm areas like nose and cheeks; purple around the eyes and a yellowish colour in bony areas like the forehead.

Step 4
I now switch to soft pastels. Unison are a brand that I really like and are available to buy from the SAA web site.

I start to think a lot more about accuracy of colour now and select a colour that will give an overall colour for the general skin tone. This is applied all over the face and rubbed in with my finger which will blend a little bit with the under painting colours to give some variation. I also add a tone for the hair and shirt.

Step 5
Now I add some warm and cool colours as well as lights and darks which are then blended with pastel pencils which is a great way to unify areas.

Step 6
I now add grey half tones. It may seem strange to leave half tones until the end but I find it works very well and seems to unify areas nicely. I work lastly on the details of the features and add the background. I'm quite happy with the end result and happily so is James!

I will be demonstrating in April at It's all about Art event in Bristol where I will be doing a portrait demo in oil copying a head by John singer Sargent, hope to see you there!

Good luck with your painting

Warren Sealey

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