Friday 24th March 2017
Jane Disney has been drawing since she was very young and her preferred medium is pastels. Her favourite subject matter is animals and this evening she has chosen to do a rabbit, appropriately just in time for Easter. She had already prepared the line drawing to work from at home. She used Trace Down to transfer her sketch to the black pastel paper. To make it more visible she then drew around the traced down outline with white coloured pencil.
There was no reference material for the drawing as it came from Jane’s imagination and experience of drawing animals. Her portraits are always taken from photographs and commissions of animals are also faithful copies of photographs, although she likes to meet the animal as well if that is possible, but her animal pictures usually come from her imagination. The most popular one of these was of two hares looking at the moon. She has sold that and 42 prints of it.
Jane Disney admits she has an unusual way of working by starting at the top left of the picture and working down to the bottom right hand corner. She is right handed and she has found that by working this way the pastel does not get rubbed and spoilt as she works. She likes to work with Carbothello pastels which she buys on the internet as they are not available in Hobbycraft and Camberley no longer has an art shop. An audience member said that they are available in Pullingers of Farnham. Jane uses a sharpener to sharpen them and buys these in bulk. There are probably only 12 good sharpenings in the life of a sharpener.
For this little rabbit she is going to work in muted colours using a natural grey to start and then building up the highlights and lowlights, blending the pastel shades together as she works. She sometimes uses cotton tips to blend and soften areas but Carbothello are very silky and blendable. Having started with the bony eye sockets she worked on the nose adding a tease of pale pink.
Eyes are an obsession with Jane. They have to be exactly right. Once the eyes were as she wanted she carried on with the body fur. Once again she used a little flesh pink to the inner ear to add warmth and to suggest the skin tone through the fur as rabbit’s ears are fairly thin and translucent.
Jane attends about 14 events a year all over the South East and in the Isle of Wight. She cuts her own mounts and she explained that it is important to mount or even double mount pastel pictures as the recess prevents the build up of static between the pastel and the glass which over time can remove the pastel from the paper. It is important to fix pastels too and Jane uses fixative even though this does turn colours fractionally darker. Even hairspray will work but it is not recommended. Always hold the fixative at an angle of about 45 degrees to the paper to get an even distribution. Jane scans her work so that she can sell prints as she is aware that people do not always have the money to buy an original but they do want to buy the picture. She also has her own cards made up and has used Moonpig.com.
Tonight’s picture is destined for her stall and it is going to be called “So Near So Far”. There will be a beautiful red strawberry on the top left of the picture when it is finished which he little rabbit just cannot reach. Jane will send us a photograph of the finished article in due course.
At the end of the evening Jane encouraged people to take a closer look at her materials and her work. She pointed out that the Daler Rowney Pastel Paper can be more textured than she might want for a smooth coated animal like a horse so she uses the other side of the paper which is less textured. Everyone enjoyed and appreciated all the tips and explanations Jane gave and she said she was delighted with the amount of interaction she was getting from the audience.