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Pastels for the Absolute Beginner


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Table of Contents

Introduction 6
Materials 8
Setting up your workspace 12
Starting to draw 16
Pastel techniques 28
Bauble - step by step 36
Teasel - step by step 46
Colour 56
Rolling Fields - step by step 62
Landscapes 70
Rocky Tor - step by step 74
Billowing Clouds - step by step 92
The Birches - step by step 104
Life in your paintings 110
Child with Fishing Net - step by step 120
Toby - step by step 130
Composition 140
Index 144

About the Author

Based near Exeter in Devon, Rebecca de Mendonca paints, teaches and writes. Her dynamic pastels capture the movement and atmosphere of subjects ranging from equestrian and landscape to figures and architecture.
After graduating in Theatre Design, Rebecca's early career was in theatre and interior design in London. She undertook portrait commissions of West End actors and dancers in English National Ballet.
She is an Associate Member of the Society of Equestrian Artists, currently focusing her paintings on people working with horses, and moorland ponies. Rebecca has exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London with the Pastel Society and also as a finalist in the Artists of the Year Exhibition, 2019. Rebecca co-founded The New Pastel School in 2013.


This thorough guide to the rewarding medium of pastel will teach you much more than just the basics and may be the only pastel book you'll ever need!

Rebecca introduces new techniques in an eminently practical way, demonstrating detail and loose styles of working, giving you the chance to explore the medium as widely as possible.

* The SAA *

Although this is a superb introduction to the rewarding medium of pastels, it's also a whole lot more. Rebecca is a versatile artist whose skills run to just about any subject. Her results are breath-taking and this is one of the most thorough guides I've ever seen. I'd even go so far as to say it might be the only book you'll ever need.

After the obligatory introduction to materials and basic techniques, the book immediately starts to get practical and you might be forgiven for thinking you've moved on to the exercises and demonstrations. In fact, you're still practising techniques, shading and textures, just not through the sort of geometric shapes that many books subject you to.

Once you're confident and competent, you'll move on to full-scale demonstrations that cover landscapes, waterscapes, trees, skies, buildings, animals and people (I told you it was comprehensive!). There are plenty of steps and concise but thorough instructions, as well as hints and tips galore.

I really can't praise this enough. It's so much more than the title suggests and a must for any pastellist.

-- Henry Malt * SAA Paint Magazine *

Leisure Painter contributor, Rebecca de Mendoca, introduces pastels to the complete beginner in her new book, Pastels for the Absolute Beginner. Rebecca is an experienced tutor and understands the problems many people face when starting a new medium. Using clear step-by-step exercises she will show you how to begin-from setting up your workspace, and basic pastel techniques-to using colour, composition and adding life to your paintings. The range of subjects covered includes still life, landscapes, portraits and animals, and the many examples of Rebecca's works are sure to inspire you.

* Leisure Painter *

The idea of an Absolute Beginner series is a good one. Anyone taking up painting, or starting with a new medium needs a sound guide that is well-grounded in the basics and assumes no previous knowledge.

The book is certainly thorough. Subjects include landscapes, waterscapes, people and animals, with skies, trees and waves thrown in along the way. Rebecca is primarily a portrait and equestrian artist and this shows - these are easily her strongest subjects. However, she is thoroughly at home with her medium and handles everything well. Her demonstrations and explanations are concise, but easy to follow. They will, I think, be of value to anyone - at whatever level - working with pastel.

-- Henry Malt * Art Book Review *

This unassuming, but not insubstantial book is a bit of a wolf in sheep's clothing. Although billed as an introduction it is actually one of the best and most comprehensive books on pastel there has been in a long time - possibly ever.

Books on pastel usually either cover landscapes, because that's the most popular subject and sales volumes matter, or are fairly simple technical introductions that can lack any real sense of creative endeavour. Rebecca de Mendonca, whose first book this is, is an artist of very considerable ability who is up to the task of tackling subjects that range from landscapes and beach scenes to figures, animals and still life's. There is plenty of technical information, but also demonstrations and exercises a-plenty and so much to get your teeth into that you'll never be stuck for inspiration or left feeling you want more.

-- Henry Malt * The Artist *

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