Dani at the Hunter

DaniS HuntClas223.5″ x 31.5″ (60cm x 80cm) Soft pastel on board . Dani at the Hunter.
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One of two paintings I want to do of our best discus thower ever.

Dani started Little Athletics at a young age and has played basketball at a national level. The Sport Australia Hall of Fame awarded a Spirit of  Sport Scholarship to her in 2006. She hopes to compete in asmany as five Olympics. In 2007 her coach Denis Knowles arranged for U.S champion discus thrower, Mac Wilkins, who won gold in the 1976 Montreal Olympics and silver at the 1984 L A Olympics, to visit Dani in Australia. The visit led to a change in her throwing technique and a year later she became the youngest member of the Australian track and field team.

I ought to add Dani Samuels has been a pleasure to paint. Some people are so amazingly nice!

Dani’s thoughts

DaniSFace1 Soft pastels on Mi-Teintes board 14″ x 16″ (36cm x 40cm)
Preliminary study for a portrait of Dani Samuels to exhibit at SOPAC.

It’s been a while since I did the latest of my Paintings for Poles work. So eager to explore in my newly found medium of soft pastels I asked Dani if I could do a portrait of her. More willing, pleasing and encouraging models I’ve rarely seen.

This is the 5th painting this year and the 5th in soft pastels. Yet, it is the first that I set myself to do careful detail. I consider it a 70% achievement of realism. Aims towards more improvement include hair, eyes and skin at magnification level but I’m very happy with my steps so far.

Dani’s Bio data:
I noticed that every time I read about Australian pole vaulters my fav event, Dani was always there. Wether it was Steve Hooker or Alana Boyd, Dani was there in the news with them. One reason is because she’s so nice to be a friend of but also because she is so good at her speciality: Discus throw.

Dani Samuels (born 26 May 1988) is an Australian discus thrower who in 2009 became the youngest ever female world champion in the event.
Samuels is one of only nine athletes (along with Valerie AdamsUsain BoltVeronica Campbell-BrownJacques FreitagYelena IsinbayevaKirani JamesJana Pittman, and David Storl) to win world championships at the youthjunior, and senior level of an athletic event. Her personal best throws are 65.84 m for the discus and 16.30 metres in the shot put.

Joe Dial, preliminary studies

Messenger_5773466588618948887_13765017006747144Joe Dial With Flag 1 and 2. Preliminary studies in soft pastels 16″ X 24″ on Mi-Teintes pastel board.

This are two small studies in soft pastels. The work was commissioned by Joe’s wife Shawna as a present to her husband.
I usually do a preliminary painting to check that the elements fit together well. I want to determine early whether the whole will fit well or it needs more work. Also it makes me familiar with the subject and eliminates headaches in the final painting.

Another important reason for preliminary studies is color and how it will combine with light and shade in the final work.

In this commission there were particular hurdles to overcome from the very beginning.

1) The original photographs were in black and white, and 2) they were not in very good focus. This presented a dilemma of how to get the face to be recognizable, the hands were blurry, moving fast in the twilight and there was no detail visible in the socks, shoes, pole or crossbar. I obtained help from friends that knew which poles Joe used on the day (we couldn’t ask him) and their colours. One of my friends Steve Rippon, today national PV coach in Finland, even competed against Joe when he was in Australia around 1985 when the picture was taken. He provided me with old colour pictures of the original poles and crossbar Joe used and were not distinguishable in the newspaper picture.  To do the hands I employed an old artist’s trick, which was to draw my own hands the way Joe waved them in the actual jump, but in focus and detail. I ought to say Shawna graciously offered to get the originals from the newspaper, which I didn’t pursue as it could have meant a long wait for little gain.

I reckon that from a possible 100% realism, I achieved an 85%. Not bad considering all of the above.
Having said that, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and they all loved the finished painting as I believed Joe deserved it, after 30 years of passing on his best at ORU for athletics and the future of pole vaulting as Head Coach.

In despite of the above this is my best painting in many ways. It’s about the sport that is my passion, painting is also my passion, and commissioned by Christians. Then Joe told me that the painting  “looks just like the jump felt ( AWESOME )”… So, that was my goal and it looks like I achieved it.
I’m a happy Vegemite today.

These preliminary studies provided me with another idea. The writing on Joe’s singlet was more visible in the picture Shawna didn’t like so much, so I transported it from there to the singlet in the second pastel and from there to the main painting. Thus it was much more legible than in the original photo and still true to history.

Soft pastels – Tilly and Elsie

TM2013_pp30cm x 41cm (A3) Soft Pastels on rough Mi-Teintes board. Phil Carrero

From the gir’s medal winning performances at the Australian Junior Championships Perth 2013

My first attempt to learn pastels. I love the medium, the purity of color and the challenge to produce realistic work with it. Challenges were fixing, with which spray, how and how many layers. Which surface is best for my purpose, tried smooth illustration board, rough Mi-Teintes and primed board. This last one, the board, seems to be the one to develop further.








Early pastels experience

SPCases1All three studies: 30cm x 41cm (A3) Soft Pastels on rough Mi-Teintes paper. Phil Carrero

I have not entered this three studies individually because they were quick practice sketches of two hours or less each. I only meant to become familiar with this wonderful medium and so aim to encounter as many problems as I can early in the pace. I have definitely  learned from this three and will apply experience to following work.






Pastels take only marginally longer to do than pencil and charcoal, therefore perfect for preliminary studies to major works.

For instance I’ve already done compositions of person with objects in different poses are quickly done… in full and vibrant color! So far I had no choice but to do b/w for compositions and full oils/acrylics for color harmonies, so this is a better prelim and not a time consuming one. I have also seem amazingly realistic work done on soft pastels, so the medium can definitely achieve greatness on it’s own right, not just as an aid.







… more to follow. I’m presently doing a commission where I used the experiences gained above as composition and color preliminary studies before an oil painting. Also before the next work I should have a pastel pencil set which I’m saving for. So far I’ve been using a 12 Conte pastel pencil set. Nice pencils but I would like a bit softer pigment and a wider spectrum, have eyes set on a Stabilo Carbothello set, we’ll see.

Fixative darkening, a problem most face as I did. I think easy solved by painting lights directly onto paper or base, or onto close tonal values (light on light). If a light layer is applied on dark the fixative will dissolve light layer into the dark one, therefore darkening the lights. That’s applies equally to the Schminke and Micador Fixatives I tested, even though widely different in price.








I have been looking at the new Derwent pastel pencils and the Faber Castell Pitt. They should have a full set in a nice box, the tins bend and at least on my bench they always sit on top of something uneven. Other than that they’re not bad, matter of preference.