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Live Art Demonstration 9th April 2024

Tim Fisher - Waterscape in Pastels 

Tim was using a photo of Great Massingham near Kings Lynn. He used his own brand of paper - Fisher 400 - with a sandy surface that he has developed. With this paper it is possible to multi-layer the pastels and Tim likes to work as upright as possible so any dust falls down. The paper had been glued to a board as a flat surface is needed when working with pastels. 


The drawing was done using a spent match and ink similar to Indian ink. When drawing, Tim starts with a focal point and works his way out. If he were to use a pen or pencil they would wear out very quickly on the sandy surface, whereas the matchstick wears to a useful point. Tim draws very fast but he says it’s actually quite slow for him, but it comes with practice. It’s a matter of observation to get the perspective right or enough that it looks right, such as observing angles that lead to the vanishing point and where walls facing away from us just show as a sliver.


After drying the ink, Tim used bold crimson and yellow ochre in FW acrylic inks to cover the paper. These warm the painting up, as they show through just enough. The resulting bright painting was then dried.


Next came the pastel stage. When Tim has used each pastel he puts them into a container of ground rice so he can easily find the same colour again. The pastels mainly used are Sommelier which are very soft. Tim told us that the paper is currently out of stock, but this is normally stocked by Jackson’s. Tim avoids too much rubbing because the paper is so rough, but once enough pastel had been added for the sky, he rubbed the surface very lightly and then added some warm grey to the clouds facing away from the direction of the light. 


Jaxell pastels which are slightly harder were used for drawing some of the buildings, e.g. church tower. Hard pastel sticks are used for adding fine detail. Tim used artistic licence to change one of the buildings to white to great effect. Cast shadows are a shade darker than the colour applied, such as a grey on white and a brown on an orange roof. On the white building Tim used a brown hard pastel to hint at windows. 


Trees were added with plenty of shadow giving the darkest dark against the lightest light (this was at the focal point, harking back to where Amanda told us on the appraisals evening that the focal point should be the area with the most contrast). Tim enjoys adding ‘sky holes’ to trees but warns against overdoing it. 


After the break, Tim was doing a bit of patching, before moving on to some red brick buildings. Here, a hard white pastel was used for windows. Tim finished the buildings as quickly as possible to move on to the water. He told us it was surrounded by Norfolk reeds, which, when harvested in the autumn and sharpened, make wonderful drawing implements. 


Working top to bottom with pastels helps avoid smudging areas you have already worked. Tim explained his approach to reflections and how and where they reversed and position of the vanishing point… it all got a bit scientific so I’m not going to try and explain it here. 


Water will not necessarily be blue. It will generally reflect what’s going on in the sky, but this will vary according to its depth. As with the sky Tim says he hasn’t a clue what he’s doing where it comes to water! At this stage he added water onto the surface (just to prove a point). He told us that the water activates the gum and allows it to stick more to the surface. We noticed this made it a lot darker. After a short experiment Tim dried it and it became lighter at that stage.


After a bit of touching up, Tim added some more reflections, telling us that the tonal range is shorter in the water than on the land. The end result was placed into a frame to great effect.

Click Here to view some photographs taken during the demonstration
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