Painting Thinle’s portrait in pastel in six stages. This portrait was created with Derwent, Stabilo Carbothello and Conté pastel pencils on Pastelmat.
This portrait has been created on Pastelmat paper, so the colour of the background is the colour of the page that I used. Keeping this clean and free from any pastel smudges was a whole challenge in itself.
Thinle’s bone structure is different to that of others I have drawn, so I had to be careful to pay close attention and to not make assumptions based on what I am more familiar with.
Thinle’s skin tone has a warm blush to it. Capturing this next to the two different reds of his hat and the cords tied around it was very tricky. Any strong block of colour in a picture changes how we see the colours around it. So I had to bring in some of the reds at the beginning, and deepen them in conjunction with one another as I drew to keep my colours balanced.
I have only drawn a beard once before, in my pencil portrait of Paul. Painting a beard that is fine and wispy like Thinle’s was daunting to me. I always say that commissions are great for pushing me out of my comfort zone, so I regularly reminded myself that this was one such opportunity. In the early stages of the beard it looks more finished than it is. When I look very closely at my art I expect it to withstand scrutiny as well as when I view it from a distance. And till nearing completion of the portrait this beard could not do that. I could see the bare paper showing through, so I added more precise layers of shading between the hairs, building up the depth and the contrast whilst doing so.
This was a portrait that at times seemed to go backward rather than improve. It was a great teacher for me, and it has helped me progress as an artist, and face challenges which I have previously avoided. For that all I am very grateful, as am I to have had the opportunity to draw this fascinating man.
You can read more about Thinle the man, and his portrait, in the post: Thinle – commissioned pastel portrait