This weeks class was all about making our paintings stronger by having a centre of focus and blurring the background. This is known in the photography world as a Bokeh effect. For the pronunciation think Hyacinth “Bucket” from Keeping Up Appearance’s but if you’re too young for that TV Series, it’s mostly pronouces “bouquet” or read this link for the pronunciation

The squirrel photo above (ref pixabay) has the focus whereas the background is blurred making the subject pop off the page giving it a wonderful 3D effect.  I demonstrated how to get this effect.  It looks easy but the danger is that you will create uniformity rather than the randomness of nature.  I gave some tips on how to keep it random.

I’m very proud of my students. They rise to every challenge I give them. Each week, having a go.  Not everyone  always does what we are focusing on (and it’s ok to do something different as you’re not always in the mood) but everyone does something and has enjoys themselves.

The Boxer dog is on pastelmat and the student is copying the style of the background with the colours and enjoying making an out of focus effect in a free style.  The seascape in progress is on pastelmat.  To get detailed layers over the top of pastelmat with pastel sticks, you need to be careful of how may layers of pastel to use.  I did a small demo piece to calculate how many layers you can use before the pencils stop working so well. 

1 student finished her seascape and it is beautiful!  She used just the right amount of pastel so the pencils could be used on top with out looking dull.  The squirrel is looking good here, on velour paper.  Velour lets you use a lot more layers before saturating the paper.

The butterfly is on yellow velour.  A really good colour to use for this painting as there is a lot of yellow in the photo.  I can already see that this is going to be a butterfly with rich, vibrant colours that will pop off the page!

The sunset photo was popular this week!  This photo shows the sky in progress.  This student is experimenting on a drawing paper.  This will mean there is less tooth on the paper.  It will be very easy to blend the pastels and create a bokeh effect. 

A nice range of colours there to create the sunset and the squirrel is against an out of focus rocky background.  This is a tricky background to do as everything is very blurred and it’s tricky to work out exactly what is going on.  Once the background is in and the subject is finished it will look very effective.

The midday class in action beavering away, really concentrating on their paintings.  The seats in the middle are so everyone can see when i do the demo’s at the beginning of the class.  If you’d like to join my pastel and drawing skills classes you can email me here or phone 07740 282399 / 02380 660639. Classes are on a Wednesday afternoon 11.55am to 1.55pm and 2pm – 4pm

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