Pastel pictures and snow scenes

By Sally Pudney on 10th February 2021

I’ve been continuing to work at the pastels!

Here are my latest two tries, one from a photo I took on the farm at Aldham, showing the walk down to My Field last year, and one of the River Stour at Sudbury.

I think the top one is more successful, and I’m beginning to realise that the less fussy the marks are the more effective the result. I have ordered some larger pastel paper, as at present I only have these small sheets. I’ve also ordered some ‘earth browns’ – sixteen pastels ranging from very pale to very dark, but all in neutral or cool brown shades. In the Landscape selection that I am using the browns are often much too warm for my requirements, and I keep wanting a cooler more yellow or grey biased brown, rather than the reddish browns that I have!

Over the last few days we have had quite a lot of snow here in the Eastern part of the country. On Sunday morning I got well wrapped up and walked to the nearest woodland. It was really beautiful! There were very few people about, and I managed to get some good snowy photos.

I plan on using some for painting future Christmas card images – that is great forward planning!! But I shall use one for a painting to be part of a new little group called Woodland Walks. My Walking Home painting ( see last post) will be one of this group, too. While I am stuck with my reservoir painting project I might as well diversify to paint what is available!

Hope you are all still OK. 🙂


New paintings, new pastels

By Sally Pudney on 1st February 2021

The restrictions of lockdown have meant that I’ve had lots of time in my studio over the last few weeks!

My first painting of the year had nothing to do with any of my planned projects. It is just a little part of a footpath near my house that I wanted to paint, remembering how it looked when there were still some Autumn leaves on the trees. I pass this corner when I walk the muddy way – the best way! – to the post office, across a field and then along this bridle way called Grime’s Dyke.  It is actually an pre-Roman ditch-and-bank earth work, one of three such earthworks arcing between the River Colne and the Roman River. There are remnants of all three within walking distance of my house.

Walking Home

My second painting this last month was Abberton Reservoir 1. I made my visit to the reservoir on a sunny but bitterly cold day at the very beginning of January, before lockdown started. There was no wind and the water was calm and reflective under a cloudless brilliant blue sky.

Abberton Reservoir 1

I thought A Year round Abberton Reservoir was a lockdown proof project. However, it is more than five miles drive from my home, and last time I went there were a lot of local dog-walkers and bird watchers – it was really quite busy. I have made the decision not to go back there until lockdown is lifted. It could not be categorised as an essential trip, and I really don’t feel comfortable going somewhere where it is difficult to avoid people.

It is not a big problem, I shall just aim to paint twelve pictures in total, probably doing some extras in the summer to catch up, rather than keeping strictly to one painting each month through the year.

Soft Pastels: This is one of my art projects that I can definitely get on with! I ordered a beautiful box of Unison Soft Pastels from Jackson’s Art Supplies, which had 36 colours specially selected to be appropriate for landscape work. I am using photographs that I’ve taken of local landscapes in the past to start me off. To begin with I am using Clairefontaine pastel mat to work on, but I have also bought some UArt 400 sanded pastel paper which I will also try. That’s for those of you who like the technical side. The pastels are beautifully soft and smooth to use, and the colour selection is lovely, although I am already wishing for colours I haven’t got, and can see that another order to Jackson’s Art will be going in quite soon . . .

I have had four attempts so far. This was number three –

This is the edge of a field at Fingringhoe Wick. It is quite small, the paper is 32cm wide and 24cm high.

My fourth attempt –

on the same size pastel mat, is the corner of My Field, just as I walked into it from How Hill field. I got in a real mess with this one, and ended up obliterating a lot of what I’d done, so that the ‘tooth’ on the pastel mat was completely clogged and could take no more . . . .  I rather knew how it felt! It did make me think about the importance of not fiddling and putting in too many bitty marks. It is all a learning process, and it is fun to be a complete beginner again!

Card Packs: Are you running short of birthday cards? You may be like me, and pick up nice cards from galleries, and craft shops whenever you see them. How nice it would be if we could still go to such places! But don’t forget that I have a number of different packs of greetings cards in my Shop. I mentioned my Essex Wood Spring and Summer card pack in my newsletter which came out yesterday, and have already posted and hand delivered quite a few packs, with more orders coming in.

The pack contains two cards of each design from my Essex Wood March, April, May and August paintings. The cards are all square – they are slightly cropped in this image – and are blank inside for you to write your own note. There are a number of other packs, including an Essex Coast selection and a Suffolk Coast pack. Click on SHOP on the menu bar to have a browse.

I hope you are all OK. At least it is February now, and the days are noticeably longer even though it is still cold – the Spring is on the way! 🙂


New Year! New Plans!

By Sally Pudney on 1st January 2021

I am excited to share with you my three Art projects which I have planned for this year.

This is Abberton Reservoir, which is just a few miles south of where I live. The Essex Wildlife Trust has a centre there, and it is a place renowned for water birds and wildlife of all sorts. If you read my blog you will be seeing a lot of it in the next twelve months because my BIG painting project this year is . . .

A Year round Abberton Reservoir. There are miles of footpaths around the reservoir and I am looking forward to exploring and painting them, along with the trees, the birds and wildlife, the landscape and villages around the reservoir itself. There are also good views from the two roads which cross the reservoir. I plan to do one large painting a month and other smaller paintings and drawings as ideas suggest themselves. As I will be going back to the same area every month I will be able to observe the seasonal changes in great detail which – as I mentioned in my blog post yesterday – was what made the Field visits so interesting to me, and, I hope, to you.

My second project is a series of Still Life with Flowers. As I hinted yesterday this resulted from the small jam-jar paintings I did from the Field.  I enjoyed doing them but realised there was a whole lot more to learn and experiment with in this area. I shall be painting wild flowers and garden flowers – and maybe some florist’s flowers, too! I will be aiming for eight paintings, two from each season, but it may be more  – or less! – I shall have to see how I get on.

My third project is learning a new technique. I am going to learn how to use soft pastels!  I follow several pastel artists on Instagram and I’m really impressed with the effects they achieve. Last summer when I was doing the #100dayproject, and messing about with different drawing and painting media I enjoyed trying the new techniques in a very small way. Now I’m going to try a new technique in a bigger and much more committed way! Yesterday I ordered a box of Unison soft pastels – half sticks in a range of colours chosen as suitable for landscapes – plus pastel paper and blending tools. I’m looking forward to trying them when they arrive, and being a beginner again!

All of these projects are things that I can do within the restrictions of Tier 4 which is important.

I have not made any plans about exhibitions and galleries as these things are out of my control. I hope I will be able to do a real Open Studio event in late June and late November/early December. I hope we will be able to have our Anglian Arts Project Exhibition at the Naze Centre in September. And I hope I will be able to show everything that makes up the Essex Field project at a new (secret) venue in late April/early May. But these things are all virus permitting so  I will just wait to see what is possible when the time comes.

I hope you have made some interesting plans for 2021. Or maybe you are just going to enjoy what is possible and keep doing the days until life can expand again. Whichever it is I wish you all, lovely blog readers, a Happy and Healthy New Year! 🙂


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All images © Sally Pudney 2021