Laura discovered a real affinity for soft pastels as soon as she tried them - they are smooth, buttery and can be spread and blended better than wet paint. Soft pastel sticks offer the perfect medium for large areas, but pastel pencils overcome the difficulties of painting details by providing a solid support for a fine point.
Alpine tree frog (Litoria verreauxii alpina) Sennelier soft pastels and Faber Castell polychromos pastels on sanded pastel paper (Canson Mi-Teintes TEX). 39 x 27 cm. I took the reference photo of the subject for this painting while working with alpine tree frogs in the course of my PhD degree (James Cook University). For more detail, please see the work in progress demonstration in the blog.
Golden whistler male (Pachycephala pectoralis). Faber Castell PITT pastel pencils, Polychromos hard pastels and Sennelier soft pastels on sanded Colourfix paper. 12 x 9 in. Golden whistlers are always a pleasure to find in the wild - the males are so vibrant! The females are rather dull and nondescript in comparison, and are best identified by the shape of their beaks.
Grey shrike-thrush (Colluricincla harmonica). Faber Castell polychromos pastels and Sennelier soft pastels on sanded Mi-Teintes TEX pastel paper. 39 x 27 cm. Grey shrike-thrushes are relatively common and yet unobtrusive birds of forests and woodlands. We usually locate the birds by their repetitive but melodious calls. This bird is in a classic resting pose, however they are often also spotted foraging on the ground and in the leaf litter for insects, spiders, frogs and reptiles.
Australasian grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae). Faber Castell polychromos pastels on un-sanded pastel paper. 30 x 21 cm. Grebes are challenging birds to photograph well because they're so small, and often out in the middle of lakes, spending 3/4 of their time under the surface of the water. This grebe is a mature adult in breeding plumage.
My beautiful little niece! Schmincke soft pastels and Faber Castel PITT pastel pencils on Mi-Teintes Tex paper. 27 x 39 cm. This is one of my first ever human portraits, and certainly my first one in pastel! I hope I have done some justice to my gorgeous subject (although she is infinitely more cute in real life)! :)
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus). Schmincke soft pastels and Faber Castel PITT pastel pencils on Mi-Teintes Tex paper. 39 x 27 cm. Osprey truly are some of the most beautiful birds; they are large and majestic, and superb fishers. This osprey was getting ready to take off.
Spotted quoll (Dasyurus maculatus). Schmincke soft pastels and and Faber Castel PITT pastel pencils on Mi-Teintes Tex paper. 71 x 52 cm. Quolls are marsupial carnivores with cat-like characteristics. They like nothing more than lazing around during daylight, and hunting for prey at night. This female was just getting comfortable, and surveying her napping surroundings.
Looking west from Echo Point, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia. Schmincke soft pastels and and Faber Castel PITT pastel pencils on Mi-Teintes Tex paper. 71 x 52 cm. On an afternoon hike around the top of the escarpment, we saw the setting sun illuminating the cliff-tops and foliage, whilst looking for the elusive birds.
Pacific golden plover (Pluvialis fulva). Schmincke soft pastels and Faber Castell PITT pastel pencils on Mi-Teintes Tex paper. 39 x 27 cm. This little plover was uniquely shy and unusual in its behaviour on the mud-flats in the little coastal town of Yamba, NSW. It would run a little way, stand on one leg, forage in the sandy mud, then run again!
Bananas still life. 12 x 9 inches. Art Spectrum Artist's soft pastels on AS Colourfix paper. I wanted to challenge myself with a deep burgundy background, and the first thing that came to mind to contrast with it were bananas! While being a fairly simple subject, bananas are fun to paint as they have subtle colour variations and bruises to make them interesting!
Navel oranges still life. 12 x 9 inches. Schmincke soft pastels on AS Colourfix paper. Decided to start a series of still life paintings to get my basic pastel painting techniques up. Oranges are fascinating fruit with all their dimples and highlights and highly saturated colours!