We talk about the return of the starter packs and also answer a bunch of questions from you. Points included in the podcast:
- Getting Bored with Pastel Pencils (4:00)
- Using White Pastel Board with undercoating (8:00)
- Different Coloured Papers (9:55)
- Sharpening Cretacolor Pencils (12:50)
- Sue’s Feedback and Feeling like a Fraud (15:00)
- Connie’s Inspirational Journey (18:55)
- Were any parts of Colin’s career stressful (23:45)
Listen or read the transcription below:
Stephen Bradley: Hello and welcome to Colin Bradley art cast, I am Stephen Bradley.
Colin Bradley: And I’m Colin Bradley.
Stephen Bradley: How are you dad? This has been a while.
Colin Bradley: It has, isn’t it?
Stephen Bradley: I don’t know how long, a month or two.
Colin Bradley: Yeah, quite a while now.
Stephen Bradley: Yeah
Colin Bradley: Yeah, but it’s nice to get back on, I mean, we’ve been very busy this is…
Stephen Bradley: Is not that we have been relaxing for three weeks, is it?
Colin Bradley: Gosh no, I have been…in fact a friend of mine came around the other day and I was showing him some of the work and explaining what I was doing and he said, you shouldn’t really so hard Colin we are getting on a bit now you should take it easy. And I found it very hard to relay my feelings to him, you know, because it’s not to me it’s not a job, it’s a hobby. You know, and I work hard because I want to work hard, you know, I enjoy working hard and really when you’re painting pictures can you really call it working hard?
Stephen Bradley: To other people it might be work but…
Colin Bradley: Yeah, to me it’s a fantastic and I’m very privileged to do it. So no, I have worked hard and we have been working you know that and we got some lovely pictures coming out of it but I love the work and long may it continue in fact if I’m not working, I am moping around. I am very pleased and grateful that we got what we got.
Stephen Bradley: We just released the packs and that was another thing that sort of came last minute and we were out there everyone we were making these packs…
Colin Bradley: Yes
Stephen Bradley: …They are all handmade, aren’t they? I was going to say that.
Colin Bradley: They are.
Stephen Bradley: You know this is the… it sort of brought back to the roots, didn’t it?
Colin Bradley: Yeah
Stephen Bradley: When we were doing those packs. Of like manual, you know, put this in there, put that in there and that’s one done and everything so the packs have we re-released.
Colin Bradley: It’s fun though.
Stephen Bradley: It was fun.
Colin Bradley: And it’s great as you said today when you just release them and they’re selling well already, so it was a good decision, a good move to make.
Stephen Bradley: Yeah I feel like they’re really…it’s really such a good product to introduce people to and I think one…was it June that commented on our Facebook page and said that’s how she started, she worked on a few…
Colin Bradley: Oh! We got a lot of people like that.
Stephen Bradley: And it was the first introduction they had and it was a great and I think someone else commented saying it seems too intimidating and I replied saying that that’s exactly why they’re six pencils and designed for people that might be.
Colin Bradley: I think the thing is though Steve with the packs and with our web site too they can… They’ve got their pack in front of them they can take their time, they can make as many mistakes as they….no one’s going to see it, no one’s going to look at it. So they can indulge themselves in trying to get to grips with it and in the end and I’ve seen so many I’ve lost count of the amount of pictures that people show me, they come back to exhibitions I’ve done or whatever and they’ve said you know those packs are fantastic. And so I think it is a good thing but I do understand the intimidation but we make it as easy as we can we can, we can’t make it any easier unless we do it for them. Is the only way we can make it easier?
Stephen Bradley: Yeah. So that’s yeah in a nutshell just scraping the ice because everything else we can’t talk about but roughly you know the things, the projects that we’ve been doing.
Colin Bradley: Oh yeah
Stephen Bradley: …As well as everything else I’ve got a list as long as my arm
Colin Bradley: We’ve upped our game Steve, haven’t we?
Stephen Bradley: Yeah, there’s a lot of other things as well that I’ve got on a massive list here of things that we… improvements that we want to make and things like that is just finding the time, isn’t it?
Colin Bradley: That’s right.
Stephen Bradley: Anyway I’ve been saving up questions for a while. So these people probably send in these questions, we have replied to everyone but there’s probably about two months ago we got these in. So the first one, this person came though YouTube, I don’t know how to pronounce their name Sujanith. Colin do you ever get bored of the same medium unless you feel you’re growing with every painting, you might be bored, so how do you keep growing? What keeps you in check?
Colin Bradley: I tell you, well the simple answer to that is the pastel pencil, if I had been continuing with watercolour by now yes, the answer would be probably I would be a bit bored and moving on to something else. Now, the pastel pencil I’ve been doing it now 30…30 odd years.
Stephen Bradley: Well when did you get them? The late 80s wasn’t it?
Colin Bradley: Yeah
Stephen Bradley: 88
Colin Bradley: Going on a bit now must be nearly 30 years or not more than 30 years…
Stephen Bradley: 85, 86 so..
Colin Bradley: So that’s long enough to know that I would have got bored. Now I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of pictures, I’ve taught hundreds and hundreds of people and just the other day I showed you my latest very latest one and we were talking about it and enthusing about it, that’s the key to it enthusing. the reason I was enthusing is because I had put myself under quite a lot of pressure to produce this particular picture and when you eventually see it, I don’t know when it’s going to be but when you see it you’d understand how I feel. It was a struggle and a challenge and that’s what made it so much fun and I really enjoyed it and this more in the pipeline to and now because I’ve…you grow in confidence that’s the thing so how can you get bored if you growing confidence and you can’t wait to get back into the studio to pick up pencils again but it’s only because it’s the pastel pencil. It can teach you all the time you’re learning and I’ve got to say the subject material, look at the subject material I go from portrait to landscape to animals to still life and you can’t get bored with that, but if you were doing the same thing, if you were doing a landscape say you were a landscape artist and doing a watercolour and the same thing day after day after day after day, yes I would have got bored by now. That’s the reason, so I hope that answer the question.
Stephen Bradley: Would you say that about your particular watercolour style because I know you watercolour style is different even with that, do you think…
Colin Bradley: Even with that I was getting bored with it, I was getting bored. And that was early on and I think probably within 5 years of actually taking up watercolour I was going off the boil so to speak because I was doing the same thing.
Stephen Bradley: There is only so much you can do.
Colin Bradley: …The same pictures. Well you have the pencils and faber-castell is a great range of pencils but now we’ve added cretacolor onto it, my goodness look at the colours I am playing with, I am combining now. So this is the reason I would have got bored with watercolour, yes, but I’ve got no intention at all of moving off the pastel pencils. After all I use polychromos and I use soft pastel occasionally. It can vary a little bit and we’ve got different papers, now if you had watercolour you’d have a white watercolour paper.
Stephen Bradley: Yeah
Colin Bradley: That’s it.
Stephen Bradley: Yeah
Colin Bradley: Where now we’ve got pastelmat and our own paper and the new…
Stephen Bradley: Canson
Colin Bradley: Yeah, canson smooth coming out. So gosh how can you get bored.
Stephen Bradley: Such a range of materials haven’t you.
Colin Bradley: Absolutely
Stephen Bradley: Yeah, lovely. Okay, next one from Jeanette, I’ve recently had an attempt at drawing Colins pug and I drew this on cream coloured pastelmat. Now, I have a white pastel board that I am itching to try out, will the pug work well on this and would I still need the white under coat for the first layout or would I go straight on with ivory?
Colin Bradley: Right, well the reason I don’t use white is because I do use a lot of white, now if you put white on white you can’t see it. If it were white on cream you can see it, if you put white on any of the other colours you can see it and you do need to see it because you need to know how much base you need to put down. Now I understand what she’s saying, you could use ivory and that could work but I still think white is a bit stack, it’s great for watercolour because you use the white paper as an undertone and that paper comes through the watercolour work but pastel doesn’t work like that you have to cover the pastel paper.
Stephen Bradley: Will the ivory appear too harsh even though it’s a white paper as well? Because the white softens the Ivory.
Colin Bradley: I don’t think it would…the answer to that be on your question was, would you think it would work and my answer is no it wouldn’t really, not to my satisfaction no. So if you’ve got white board…
Stephen Bradley: Doesn’t provide enough of the base
Colin Bradley: If you got white board what I would suggest you use it for is charcoal or use the pencils…the greys and the blacks.
Stephen Bradley: Like yeah, like a…
Colin Bradley: As a charcoal drawing, more…that kind of thing of thing rather than pastel. So the way we use pastel is with producing a proper picture with all the undertones and the backgrounds and everything and white is not a good colour for that in my opinion.
Stephen Bradley: Okay, thanks Jeanette. Okay, next one from Pat. I was watching the video on backgrounds and I have a question regarding the background for the Black Dog. Could you have used a light grey background if not are there times where you would use a different coloured pastel paper.
Colin Bradley: Yes you could, you could use a light grey, yep.
Stephen Bradley: A light grey background because in the black dog pictures we’ve done its been a contrast but it’s been dark.
Colin Bradley: Well, I’ve done quite a few, I mean, we did one that hasn’t come out yet but I done one on very dark paper, didn’t I?
Stephen Bradley: That’s going to be a really good…
Colin Bradley: That’s coming up, yeah that’s very impressive but when you use…
Stephen Bradley: That really impressed me with the pastelmat.
Colin Bradley: It did, didn’t it? But when you see that folks you’ll see why I chose that because of that particular subject.
Stephen Bradley: Yes
Colin Bradley: But generally speaking you can use as long as you don’t use white you can use virtually any colour. I’m a bit selective in as much as I don’t like putting, I don’t like using the green pastel paper, if I got something that’s going to have a contrast of colour. So you’ve got to be a bit careful with that, I did use green for the pelican I believe, didn’t I? And that was green and that works really well because it suited, it was more of a landscape kind of…
Stephen Bradley: But you didn’t use like anthracite black or very dark grey for this dark dog, you used dark blue.
Colin Bradley: I did in that, yes. Yes I did. That’s right but the anthracite probably wouldn’t work very well. The only time I’ve ever used that was that…
Stephen Bradley: Moonlight scene.
Colin Bradley: That come out well but I use the background then…the anthracite comes through it.
Stephen Bradley: in the background yeah.
Colin Bradley: That was what I was saying you do it like that. But that was an experimental one that actually went down very well. So yes you can use any colour but I would choose the colours wisely and try to keep neutral if you can. My favourite at the moment certainly with all the demonstrations that I’m doing on the site is the Dark Grey.
Stephen Bradley: Yeah
Colin Bradley: And the reason for that it seems to fit nearly every picture well it would have done because I wouldn’t do it otherwise. I have just made the slight difference to the last one I’ve done. I’ve done it on Ingres. And that was just in some normal sand ingres purely by way of a change and to say gosh you don’t have to use these and…
Stephen Bradley: Yes because it feels like we have been talking a lot about pastelmat because it is a new addition to what we’re teaching on but the ingres still.
Colin Bradley: Well I’ve gone back, I have done three pictures in the last 3 or 4 weeks our own paper, sand ingres paper. Because I still like that paper. It’s a great paper.
Stephen Bradley: And you have been using it for 30 years.
Colin Bradley: I know.
Stephen Bradley: Yeah, lovely. Okay the next one through from Christine, I see you’re selling the cretacolor pencils and a few years ago I bought a full set from Patchings of Bob Elcock but I’m finding they are not easy to sharpen…it is easy to sharpen as the faber castell pencils. Does Colin find they break easier? Yeah.
Colin Bradley: The answer is yes they are more brittle than they faber. Faber are unique really they work really well but the cretacolor can be a bit temperamental.
Stephen Bradley: Is that because they are slightly softer.
Colin Bradley: Yes, I get over that and because I use a…if I make sure I’ve got a sharp blade that’s the difference if you’ve got a blunt blade and you’re trying to do it or when it’s been used a while with the faber pencils then it can actually break.
Stephen Bradley: How many pencils do you get out of a blade generally?
Colin Bradley: Well in the in the old days I did a good analysis once and I reckon I’ve used 2 razor with every picture.
Stephen Bradley: Oh really?
Colin Bradley: In the past, now I use more than that.
Stephen Bradley: Because you’re using so many pencils.
Colin Bradley: And I’m fussier, and the blades are relatively cheap to be honest.
Stephen Bradley: Yeah
Colin Bradley: And you don’t waste any paint if you are using oil or water colour, you waste paint and I equate that to pastel pencil…you don’t waste pastel pencil, whatever it is there is there and it never dries up. So I put my money really in the blades and I would keep…now I’ll reckon I use 4 on average. If I’ve got a big picture like the Reggianini one I think I used probably about 7 blades.
Stephen Bradley: Really?
Colin Bradley: Because the reason is I had to keep sharpening the points especially those little intricate details…
Stephen Bradley: You need a sharp point.
Colin Bradley: Yeah you do. So it’s really according to the picture I would say, but on an average you do need a few…
Stephen Bradley: Fab. Okay, the next one is more of a feedback from Sue and Sue said before finding your dad’s website I was just drawing the odd pencil portrait for my family’s pets, for birthdays and Christmas presents but since following Colin’s tutorials my drawings have changed dramatically. Consequently, I am now actually selling pet portraits and have the confidence to make my own website and Facebook page. It is more of a paid hobby really but I cannot thank you and your dad enough not only have I used the tutorials and animals videos to practice on but I also use them when someone sends me a photo and I’m not sure of which colours to use. In those instances I’ll try to find a tutorial which has an animal with similar features or colourings that follow that and also I have a couple on occasions emailed for advising and you’ve always got back in touch and give me the best advice possible. Once again I cannot thank you both enough, finding your website and online art school was the best thing I’ve done for ages. P.S. I just wanted to add that even though I’ve tried to make my website look a bit professional deep down I still feel like a right fraud, I feel it’s a case of tonight Matthew I’m going to be an artist, hopefully at some point the feeling that I’m pretending might wear off.
Colin Bradley: Yes, it will wear off but I do understand it completely how you feel. When I first started my gallery here and I was doing my pictures I was just quite happy to sail along saying that well I’m a sort of artists and people do like my work but I did feel a little bit like a fraud but when it all took off and it really took off quite quick that’s what I did feel a bit of a fraud, I remember thinking when I was in Olympia for the first time doing these demonstrations, what am I doing here? How can I even pretend that I know…I’m an artist. And that carries on for a little while but then gradually with confidence you get the confidence, you get people telling you and you will then I think accept it more but I still don’t call and you know this, I don’t actually call myself an artist. I’m an art teacher and it’s helped me along over the last 20 or so years because I don’t feel that I am artist, not in the true sense and I let other people say, oh you’re a good artist, oh thank you very much but I and myself I don’t really still consider myself an artist I’m just a good art teacher because that’s really my job. That’s what I consider my job because I don’t do all my pictures and sell them.
Stephen Bradley: Yeah
Colin Bradley: So I’m doing my pictures for everybody out there doing it, so I’ve got a slightly different take on it but I know exactly how she feels.
Stephen Bradley: But you were in that space? Yeah.
Colin Bradley: Oh I was in that position and… but don’t worry about it because it will wear off.
Stephen Bradley: And it’s fantastic it’s another one of these stories that we love hearing about people that have kept going and they’ve got to the point now where they’re getting commissions in they’re creating a little paid hobby out of it and that they’re able to start publicising it and saying hey look I can do this and I could do that and still… it’s not like they’ve graduated from us like we’re always here and they always like Sue checks back in for new pictures and uses as reference for all of that. I forget the fact that people aren’t just doing our pictures to learn how to draw a specific picture it’s as a reference material for their own pictures.
Colin Bradley: That’s right.
Stephen Bradley: It’s a nice added bonus
Colin Bradley: Absolutely
Stephen Bradley: …For people. So thanks Sue that’s wonderful. So Ihave another one, another feedback from Connie and Connie says hi Colin I’ve just read your story absolutely fascinating, I loved reading your journey into art I am finding all your tutorials extremely helpful and unfortunately I’ve only recently got into art myself. I’ve been a very busy mum and now a grandmother working full time up till the age of 54 when I had 2 herniated discs in my back which caused sciatic nerve impingement. I also had foot surgery and unfortunately I couldn’t go back to my most recent career of hairdressing due to the inability to stand all day. I started to feel worthless and the pain of the disks was unbearable. In August last year I decided to pick up a pencil and try to sketch my dog and I enjoyed the process as it was taking my mind of the constant nerve pain, I placed the drawing on my dressing table and when my husband came home from work he looked twice at it and asked who had drawn it, I said obviously that I had drawn it which he replied, well I think it’s amazing. The following day I decided to get some watercolour paints and I spent a few months experimenting with them. Later on I bought the faber castell watercolour pencils and the faber castell polychromos and I’ve been doing animal portraits of all sorts to improve. A few weeks ago, I bought the faber castell pitt pastels and that is when I discovered your tutorials, finding you and a few other people I follow has given me a whole new life. Thank you.
Colin Bradley: Well, there we are that’s a very inspirational story and like so many of our members and people that we’ve met over the years and they use it as an outlet and good for them, that’s exactly what I do. You know I’ve said many times that people who have had all the sorts of elements and they all say that once they pick up a pencil and start indulging themselves in drawing their particular subjects they lose themselves and pain goes away, don’t go all the way, it don’t completely go away but you kind of put it to one side and this is a great asset. It’s not just art, all creative pursuits would do the same thing but this art is one of the best art and music I would say that will key things that will completely yourself.
Stephen Bradley: Yeah, lose yourself in it.
Colin Bradley: Yeah, because you’ve got to concentrate, if you’re doing…playing a piano or any musical instrument you’ve got to concentrate on that, you’ve got to focus on that otherwise it won’t…nothing will happen. Art’s the same and the more you can focus and the more you can get into that zone so to speak. The more pain relief you’ll get.
Stephen Bradley: Do you think that because it’s so fascinating that the mind is able to shift the focus and attention away from the pain. Do you think that is an actual…I mean, I know that it’s an escapism and that you can get away from it and then you stop and then you realise the pains are here again, but do you think it’s an eventual healer.
Colin Bradley: No, without doubt there’s no question about that. People have…we had a lady who was I told you was arthritic…she was in my…
Stephen Bradley: Yeah
Colin Bradley: …Class for a long time and she used to take them off and when she was here she had to bound up, she’d take them off because she couldn’t work the pencils. She used to do the three hour class with me and then later on she put them on but very often, she forgot to put them back on again.
Stephen Bradley: Really
Colin Bradley: And she’d go home with them and then she said to me, I didn’t really need them. So it just shows you that there is this healing and I’ve seen her recently and she wasn’t wearing them. Now I don’t know whether…
Stephen Bradley: It’s all down to you
Colin Bradley: Well, I didn’t like to say anything to her but you don’t want to get that personal but yes I think probably there are times when you are capable of healing yourself we know that. So yes I think that’s probably true and it depends what you got obviously, it depends the ailment.
Stephen Bradley: Yeah
Colin Bradley: But certainly with things like stress this is the worst and we know that. This is the biggest killer today stress and the symptoms that come from that, well because both of the creative arts music and art would take that stress away. You can’t be stressful and then paint, well you shouldn’t be I don’t know what sort of picture it’d turn out. You can’t because you’re losing yourself you’re just concentrating and focus on something that’s outside yourself and you’d forget all ailments and the problems that you’ve got.
Stephen Bradley: Were there times in your career that you were stressed in doing art though? Because there must have been pressures when it became a job and you’re supporting a family, a house and…
Colin Bradley: No, no.
Stephen Bradley: Did it not?
Colin Bradley: No, I think that’s what saved me really.
Stephen Bradley: Do you think?
Colin Bradley: Obviously everybody’s got those little problems, whens starting a business off, all the things. And I had the stress of traveling from all over the country as you know.
Stephen Bradley: Yeah
Colin Bradley: …And that used to stress me out the M25 and in the M1. Oh goodness me, I don’t go there anymore. But that would stress but the actual job itself would take that away and I continued with it because it was such a good job I had and I wouldn’t say I had any stress no, not performing the job.
Stephen Bradley: Not in the art work.
Colin Bradley: No and I think that carried me through. That’s what I am today I’m still around and doing the things I love…
Stephen Bradley: To have a career…for anyone to have a career for 30, 40 years if you count the watercolour and everything in the gallery and to still get as much enjoyment from it and to learn as much from it…I have never heard of that.
Colin Bradley: Its testament to what everybody out there should be looking at doing something like this or not necessarily my art work but any kind of art work or any kind of creative pursuit. And I would encourage people to do that, to move away from the stress free world that we have to live in we’ve got no choice. But I haven’t been stressed for years Steve, not properly.
Stephen Bradley: No?
Colin Bradley: I can’t even remember when I was, probably the last time was when I was on the m25.
Stephen Bradley: Its travel was…
Colin Bradley: Which is a long time ago now, now that was the only…
Stephen Bradley: That was the part that was most stressful
Colin Bradley: It was a stress for me even Flatford Mill, it was quite an undertaking but I was never stressed even when I was there and it was quite a commitment to do the workshops and so on, the thing is we had a lot of fun. I made it a lot of fun, the people that, definitely in later years, they just kept coming back and back and back and it was like old buddies, we had a great time it was really fabulous. So where is the stress there…
Stephen Bradley: yeah
Colin Bradley: Ain’t none
Stephen Bradley: Hanging out with great people, doing art work.
Colin Bradley: They weren’t stressed either because I made it that they weren’t stressed. I mean, you used to get stuck and think oh Colin I can’t do this, I can’t do that, oh don’t worry let me show you and I’d show them oh thanks very much…
Stephen Bradley: It’s a good job that you can show them as well
Colin Bradley: Yeah, oh yeah.
Stephen Bradley: This is a wonderful thing.
Colin Bradley: That’s right. So no, I’ve been very fortunate or I am very fortunate. So that’s enough about me.
Stephen Bradley: Well it is all about you dad.
Colin Bradley: No.
Stephen Bradley: No, all right. Then let’s call it there for this podcast. I hope everyone found this really interesting. Lookout for more projects coming your way. There’s so many wonderful ones that I don’t know what I did plan out what we’ve got next but I can’t remember what it is, but up until the end of the year we’ve got it all planned out and there’s certainly some different things especially towards the end of the year that we’re looking forward to showing you all which we will branch out slightly from the norm. So thanks dad.
Colin Bradley: It’s a pleasure
Stephen Bradley: And thanks everyone for listening I’m Stephen Bradley
Colin Bradley: And I’m Colin Bradley
(Both say in unison)
Enjoy your week!