Painting the Pastel Figure | Crawfurd Adamson Studies

Drawing and painting the nude has been a constant practice for British pastel artist Crawfurd Adamson since his college days—and a subject he feels driven to study. At the same time, he’s aware that some artists tackling the same subject have been accused of being sexist or misogynistic, which he consciously works to avoid in his work.

“Every individual is a mix of strength and vulnerability,” he says. “The women in my life have always been strong people.” In his figurative work, Adamson finds he often emphasizes the strengths in women and the weaknesses in men. “And there’s some evidence that I get that balance right,” he says. “A women’s refuge in North America has bought one of my paintings, and a UK website supporting women who have lost children has asked to use another of my figure paintings.”

He’s currently working on a series, “Studies for Standing Figures,” depicting both male and female figures from behind. In them, he addresses the distribution of flesh and the different ways in which people stand. Adamson uses strong light and nonlocal color in these studies. “The strong light brings out the abstract shapes of shadows across the figure,” Adamson says. “If the shapes are right, I can use any color, and the image will still be understood. Pastel is a great medium for this.”

See more of Adamson’s work, in which he explores the human condition and the isolation of the individual in a crowd, in the June 2015 issue of Pastel Journal, The issue is available at as a print title or a download, or pick up the issue on newsstands May 12.



Standing Woman 1 (pastel, 35x22) by Crawfurd Adamson

Standing Woman 1 (pastel, 35×22) by Crawfurd Adamson

Standing Man (pastel, 37x22) by Crawfurd Adamson

Standing Man (pastel, 37×22) by Crawfurd Adamson

Standing Woman, Hand on Hip (pastel, 37x22) by Crawfurd Adamson

Standing Woman, Hand on Hip (pastel, 37×22) by Crawfurd Adamson






























































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