Have Stick, Will Travel

Felicity House, who prefers to work directly from her subject whenever possible, reserves her sketchbooks—at least so far as pastels are concerned—for fast-moving subjects such as busy street scenes. These sketches of the market at Mysore, in India, were made using a sharpened “lolly stick” [Popsicle stick] dipped in India ink, and a small selection of pastels carried in a tin in her pocket.

“This technique was taught to me by a colleague in the Pastel Society, and I love it,” she says. “You really are traveling light. The stick absorbs the ink, so you’re not constantly dipping it in the bottle. I like the expressive and varied line you get, and the slight element of risk that it might not go exactly as planned.

“When you’re in front of a subject like Mysore market,” she says, “what’s important is that you’re working quickly and your eye is selecting what’s vital to the image, whether it’s the way the light falls, or the shape created by a group of people. In contrast, a camera gives equal weight to everything.”

Look for the feature article about pastel artist Felicity House in the October 2009 issue of The Pastel Journal.


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