I started painting in oils many years ago, but had never really tried using soft pastels as a medium.  They are expensive to buy because, although a certain amount of colour mixing is possible, you need many more pastels to achieve the variety of hues and tones and tints that are usually necessary to complete a painting. With oils you can buy six, or even fewer tubes of paint and make almost any other colour. This is not possible with pastels.


But in a way this lack of ability to mix colours has been liberating in my pastel painting because it is relatively easy to select the hue that you want when your full range of colours is right there displayed before you. Painting with pastels has freed me from the oil painting mantra that you should use as few colours as possible in any particular painting. I feel much freer to experiment with colour and work in exciting new ways.


I only began using pastels in 2014 and I don't claim to be an expert, but I have high ambitions for improvement. 


I do love using pastels!

Red-backed firetails.jpg
These colourful little finches are very common on the east coast of Australia. We see them everywhere we go. This painting is based on photos taken at the Myall Creek campsite in Nowendoc NP in NSW.

I wanted to try to do a painting that was mostly neutral colours with bright birds as the subject and centre of attention.
Pademelon in the undergrowth.jpg
The photos of a red-legged pademelon, on which this painting was based were taken in D'Aguilar NP, just north of Brisbane in QLD. This young red-legged pademelon was moving slowly through the undergrowth in the early morning sun and was completely unfazed by the presence of two photographers.

This was a difficult picture to paint due to the complication of the surrounding vegetation, but I have to say that it remains one of my favourites.
Seagulls resting
I wanted to try painting a beach scene. In this painting based on part of a photo taken at Clairview in QLD, the serenity of the seagulls on a dull day contrasts with the restless energy of the constantly moving water.
Now I want to paint more beach scenes!
Mannikin in fan palm
I like the sense of movement created by the dramatic lines and angles amongst the leaves of strappy plants such as grasses and palm trees, and instantly new that I wanted to create a painting based on this little scene. It was an interesting challenge to make the little bird stand out against the relatively gigantic palm leaves.

The photo on which it is based was taken in the Townsville Common in August, 2015.
Little pied cormorant
The photo on which this painting is based was taken in the early morning at Eungella National Park in QLD. The little pied cormorant was a wonderful subject as it restlessly turned its head before spreading its wings out to dry.

In this pose, I liked the way the bright sunlight leads the eye across the tops of the rocks to finish at the bird's beak.
Silvereyes on wild tobacco
It was serendipity that posed these two little silver-eyes so perfectly in a wild tobacco plant during our camping trip to Koreelah National Park. An instant later the lower bird had flown away.

It was an overcast day. The light was very soft. The painting was something of a challenge but I was quite pleased with the final result.
Red-necked wallaby
This female red-necked wallaby with a very full pouch, was photographed on the lawn at the main campsite in Bunya Mountains NP. I loved the slightly off-balance stance, and her intent quizzical look.
This painting progressed quickly and smoothly, and remains one of my favourites.
Pipit on the beach. Soft pastel.
We saw this Richard's Pipit (Anthus richardi) on the beach at Bowling Green Bay south of Townsville. I liked the way the late afternoon sunlight bounced across the rocks illuminating the dried grass stems, with the bird standing like an exclamation mark at the end.
Young whipbird   Pastel 70 x 50 cm
This young whipbird was foraging near a pair of logrunners, on the rainforest floor near the boardwalk, at O'Reilly's in Lamington National Park.
Painted in 2015.
Light on the rainforest floor
I wanted to find a way to paint those beautiful little bright patches of light that illuminate fragments of the rainforest floor on sunny days. This was my first attempt.
Painted in 2015.
Tawny frogmouths. Pastel 70 x 50cm
I could hear faint clucking noises in an area of rainforest regrowth quite close to our house, and here were these four frogmouths, three babies and a parent, all together on a branch.
Painted in 2015.
Bellbird.  2014.  Pastel.
This painting is based on a photo taken at the Sheep Station Creek campsite in the Border Ranges National Park. There were a lot of bell-birds in the camp-site but they don't yet seem to be causing the damage that they have done in other areas.
Bell-birds are highly aggressive towards other birds, excluding leaf-cleansing birds like pardalotes from their territories and thus causing the death of trees. One of the most destructive of native birds!
Swamp landscape.  2104.  Pastel.
Based on a photo taken at St Lawrence on our first trip to Townsville. We had all Laura's worldly goods and chattels packed in and on her small car and were treated to the most spectacular skies, as the storm clouds gathered.
Brown cuckoo dove. 2014. Pastel
Laura decided that we should take our pastels with us, so that we could use them on camping trips. This painting was begun during a trip to Washpool National Park, and much to my embarrassment, we ended up with an audience of three men. I finished the painting later.
Azure kingfisher.  2014.  Pastel
Kingfishers are amongst our favourite birds and we always look out for them whenever we are near water. Tiny azure kingfishers are amongst the most brightly coloured. They spend most of their time sitting on a branch above running water gazing downwards.
Thornbill.  2014.   Pastel.
This was my first ever pastel painting. Over the years I had done a few oil paintings but never really tried pastels until my daughter, Laura, bought a set.
This painting is based on a photo taken in Mebbin National Park, NSW.
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For permission to use artwork, please contact Jenny Grogan.