Sennelier Soft Pastel 'Loose' Portrait + Courage

There's a million ways to create a portrait.  

Yes, a million do's and don'ts but I'm saying today, forget that and create your portrait from who you are in this moment and from what needs to come out.  Trust me, it's cathartic but I can't lie it takes courage - it's like taking in a deep breath and then breathing out slowly... fully...

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.
— Erich Fromm

With this soft pastel portrait below, I started out tight, rigid and full of tension, I finished her with abandon - I'd got to the point where I didn't care whether she 'survived' or not.  I just had to get down the colour and line as I envisioned her.  Sometimes it's just like that...

soft pastel

She's not 'technically' great by any means but she's real and she's expression of me.  Of course, there's space for 'realistic and technical' (as in my class - Portraits In Time) but I also feel there's merit in 'getting it out' and not being scared of the consequences.

On the original, I had written some words that popped into my head that I needed to hear at that moment.  I could have and might do, some additional writing but in my journal.  You could do the same. 

Below shows the same image with a little bit of tinkering via my iPhone - again, a whim and a bit of fun but valid all the same.

soft pastel on iphone.jpg

How about you, do you give yourself permission to 'let it all hang out'?  Please do and let me know how it goes over on Instagram



5 Tips On How To You Let YOUR Art Come Through + Free Portrait Video

I'm sharing a little video with you today that is just 5 mins long.   

As I've been busy adding content to my upcoming ecourse Portraits In Time, I took some time out to play and explore and the video below is the end result.  It took about 20 minutes to complete but I've speeded the whole thing up to just 5 mins.  At the end of the video, I've also shared a complete supplies list should you be interested. 

If I create from the heart, nearly everything works: if from the head, almost nothing.
— Marc Chagall

I often get asked 'How do you let your art, your 'unique you' come through to the canvas/paper?'  

So five thoughts on this:

  • The boring bit is just to practice, play and be brave.  It's about putting in the time and commitment to learning how to draw/paint and with time, your 'unique' vision will come through. I always remember learning to drive and realising that we all have our own little ways of driving but overall, the core skill is the same.
  • Know that there will be 'off' days and 'off' pieces of art that frankly just need to be binned or painted over.  That's okay and totally normal.  Give yourself permission to make mistakes and try again (and again).
  • Listen to your inner voice and add a splash of bright pink there, a scribble over here and a bit of collage there.  Yes, the process involves risk but this is where the magic happens. 
  • Know that you're always evolving and so is your art and that's normal, so pay attention to what is real for you in this time and space.
  • Let go of perfection and say 'hello' to play and truth in the process.  

I do hope you enjoy this video and that you'll be inspired to have a go yourself.  If you'd like to create some art with me, please purchase my upcoming portrait class - the classroom opens on 11th September. 

Three Art Books I'd Recommend

Everyone loves a great art book, so today, I'd like to share three that I'd wholeheartedly recommend.

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Bold Expressive Mixed Media Painting: Painting Techniques for Still Lifes, Florals and Landscapes In Mixed Media by Annie O'Brien Gonzales.

Lots of beautiful and colourful projects in this book which are set out in a clear and easy to read format.  Annie includes lots of additional info including colour theory, 'Painting Notes' and 'Learning From Our [artist] Ancestors'.  

Various techniques and projects are included featuring collage, abstract, florals and landscape using acrylic, oil and mixed media. 

A great book for helping you create work that is personal, expressive and colourful - you'll love it!


bold expressive painting annie o'brine gonzales.jpg


Pastel Innovations: 60+ Techniques and Exercises for Painting With Pastel by Dawn Emerson.

Lots of interesting ideas in this book make it suitable for beginners or the seasoned artist alike.  So much variety here and the opportunity to build on each task.  

This book goes through some 'basics' and then shares 20 exercises that help build confidence.  There are also 40+ innovative techniques that are also shared.  Lastly, a useful section on self critique.  

All in all, a great book for exploration and using pastels in exciting new ways!

pastel innovations book dawn emerson.jpg


The Confident Creative by Cat Bennett.

Cat beautifully shares her belief that we are all creative beings who can readily tap into a never-ending supply of inspiration that lives inside us.  

This book will help you relax whilst giving you 'permission' to create from a rich well of personal expression and experimentation - there are no mistakes.

Included are various examples and illustrations that complement the book nicely.  

Overall, a very easy read that you'll want to pick up time and time again.  A keeper!

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Please note, this post contains affiliate links should you purchase the book.  I only include products on my site that I genuinely endorse. 

Making Art Whilst Traveling + Supplies

I hope you're enjoying what's left of the summer/autumn...  

Here in the UK we have a few weeks left before our boys return to high school in September - so a bit of time yet...  I know for my friends in the USA, children have already returned to school but whatever your current situation, I hope you're well.

My family and I have had a couple weeks with my eldest son Brandon (see below), who has visited from the States.  

I’ll be the first to say that it’s not always easy creating when you’re away from home but I would encourage you to persevere because it’s wonderful to capture those special memories using paint. 
— Jane
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Above - my boys!!!  Awwwwwww.  Love it when they're together and me with them...

by the sea

Above, I used my handmade Khadi & Papers sketchbook.  It has a somewhat rough surface and so gives quite an interesting texture that I enjoy for a change from a smoother surface. 

window view

In the piece above, I decided to sketch out the windowsill where we were staying - I found the various items displayed really interesting (see the little car and snail, dish, cone and the foliage in the background from the garden?) and wanted to capture them.  I used my trusty Moleskine journal, a 0.1mm Graphik Line Marker, together with some coloured watercolour pencils.  

st abbs

The piece above is a watercolour sketch of Coldingham Bay, near where we were staying.  What a beautiful beach it was and I just had to capture it.  Do you see the beach huts?  Apparently, some of these are 100 years old.  

By the way, I used Dr Ph Martin's Bleed Proof White for the waves and surf of the sea. 

It's not always easy creating when you're away from home but I would encourage you to persevere because it's wonderful to capture those special memories and of course those everyday events like a walk around your neighbourhood or home town etc. 

Please let me know your favourite supplies to bring with you whilst you're out 'n' about... 

Instagram Spotlight! - Hello Hydrangea

I don't know about you but I find Instagram a fun place to browse when I have a few minutes (or more lol). 

I also really enjoy connecting with the friendly community over on Instagram - I find them to be really encouraging and inspiring...

Anyway, today, I wanted to share some of that inspiration with you! 

Let me introduce Lindsey Campbell of HelloHydrangea.  


Lindsey says: 'Each tapestry is handmade with love using materials sourced from around the world. Wall hangings sell out within a day or two..'

They say ‘Good Things Take Time’... weaving is one of those good things.
— Lindsey Campbell

I came across Lindsey recently and instantly loved her wall hangings.  They have such a modern feel but with a unique traditional twist which I love.  

Lindsey's feed looks so inviting and varied; I was instantly drawn (or weaved lol) in! 

Over on Lindsey's website, she details online courses, a blog with lots of interesting posts and some gorgeous woven necklaces.

I've also just noticed a recently published tutorial (fab!) on weaving and watercolour that Lindsey has generously provided, over on one of my favourite sites, Design Sponge!

Images all belong to HelloHydrangea, Lindsey Campbell

Links to follow:

@HelloHydrangea - Instagram

Hello Hydrangea - Website

So, I hope you enjoyed this Instagram Spotlight and if you're on Instagram, please stop by - I'd love to follow you! 

Have a wonderful rest of your week...

Jane x

Portrait in Derwent Coloursoft Pencils

Happy Friday friends!  Our boys break up from school today, so there's a feeling of celebration here.  

Anyway, talking of celebrating, I've really enjoyed using Derwent Coloursoft Skintones pencils and also the Blender from Derwent's Blender and Burnisher set to create the portrait below.

coloursoft portrait

As the name suggests, the colour is velvety soft and seems to glide on the paper.  The Coloursoft pencils layer up nicely too - see the image below.  You can really build up dense colour and they blend well too.  The pencils are not water soluble just to note. 

half face

The multicultural skintone colours that are included are: Cream, Blush Pink, Pink, Ochre, Dark Terracotta and Brown Earth.  The set comes with a pencil sharpener and the metal tin, so everything tidy's away without a hassle.  

derwent colour soft pencils

The portrait is actually inspired by one of the reference photos that I've used in my Portraits In Time ecourse and as a reminder the early bird offer is still available for now at just £35 (it will revert to £49).  


I hope you have a wonderful weekend and if you have these pencils or any others that you'd recommend, please let us know. 

Jane x