“My real turning point was Sue Kerrigan-Harris’ 5-day soft pastel challenge!”

I started pastel painting in April 2020 after 60 years of believing that I didn’t have an artistic bone in my body. My first teacher was Emma Hunt from west Cumbria. I started with a box of 50yr old Rembrandt and Reeves pastels which belonged to my Grandfather and had lain unused since he died in 1976 on a scrap of cartridge paper I had lying around. I was so proud of that first picture.

Allonby Sunset from an Emma Hunt workshop, April 2020

After researching what pastels were available, I discovered Unison. Initially they appealed because they are British made. I bought a small half-stick set to try and was hooked. From there I discovered Unison associate artists and, with no little trepidation, took part in Fiona Carvell’s 5-day challenge. I learnt a lot from this and used what I’d learnt to try to reproduce the glorious heather on the Derbyshire moors.


Derbyshire heather, August 2020

“Sue’s detailed and calm instructions lead me through the challenge”

My real turning point was Sue Kerrigan-Harris’s 5-day challenge. The subject was Bailey the Black Spaniel. If Fiona’s challenge made my nervous, this one terrified me. However, I need not have worried, Sue’s detailed and calm instructions lead me through the challenge, helped by being able to replay the recording over and over again at the tricky bits. The result made me believe I really could do this. I then went on to paint my son’s dogs. He was so pleased with the result he asked me to paint his friend’s dog – my first commission!


“He was so pleased with the result he asked me to paint his friend’s dog – my first commission!”
“Bailey convinced me I could do animals. I still can’t believe I’m producing anything like these. Thank you Sue for giving me confidence. He has been followed up by Archie, Robbie, and Levi. My next challenges are the horse drawing course and cats.”

My next big challenge is to learn to paint my daughter’s beautiful horses so I have enrolled on Sue’s Horse Portraits in Soft Pastel Course. My early attempts, before enrolling lacked depth a realism.

The Horse Portrait Course contains studies and full-blown horse portraits ending with an Epic Adventure. They enable you to practice painting different parts of a horse all narrated and demonstrated by Sue. They are recorded so you can go through them in your own time and come with detailed lists of materials and all teach you new techniques. I have a long way to go but these are some I have completed so far.

I haven’t been brave enough to tackle a full portrait yet but I know when I do, I will have Sue’s expert tuition and generous support to help me. Watch this space ….!

“Support from Sue and the Facebook group is invaluable. If I had unlimited time and unlimited funds I’d be doing every tutorial as there is so much to learn.”

If you've got your supplies (or you want to stop buying supplies and start learning, take a look at my Beginners Mastery Course here

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New Forest, England

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