Friday 23 November 2018

Painting the vivid colours of Autumn with Derwent 'Inktense'

Demonstration painting for the group - finished later in the studio. Accepted as 'first review' so far for The Pastel Society with The Federation of British Artists at The Mall Galleries in London for open competition for the 2019 exhibition

Derwent pencils have been manufactured by The Cumberland Pencil Company in Cumbria in the UK since 1832 and is now a brand under ACCO UK Ltd.

One of their best and most successful creative products to date it has to be said is their fabulous Inktense range in both pencils and blocks. There are 72 colours in the full range created and marketed in sets of tins with attractive Derwent branding for both blocks and pencils available in 12, 24, 36 and full 72 colours respectfully.

Just a small selection of the range of versatile painting and drawing products in the Derwent Inktense range.
Featured - 12 colour Paint Pan Travel Set (back), 12 colour set of Inktense pencils (left) and 24 colour set of Inktense Blocks (right)

A really popular painting and drawing media
Artists of all disciplines, skill and genre just love them because they find out just how versatile they are, what you can achieve quickly with them and how useful all the colours are. Artists also appreciate what great value for money they are considering that the pigments used to create each lightfast colour are of the highest standard.

In use - set of 24 colour Inktense blocks and the versatile Paint Pan Travel Set of 12 great colours. Inktense Blocks have been combined to make luscious wells of glorious colour and lighter tints all ready to use

As a Derwent Associate Artist I have introduced countless new artists to Derwent Inktense through many written articles and through plenty of practical experience on art holidays and workshops both nationally and internationally and have never received a negative comment about them yet! 

In one of my recent 'Autumn Woodland colours' Derwent Inktense workshops in North Leeds, everyone found them once again to be equally as valuable and enjoyable to use when creating a wide range of wonderful paintings impressionistic paintings.

Derwent Inktense -a superb media you can fully engage with to create paintings of real depth, colour and expression by both painting and drawing at the same time

Everyone in the creative zone! Lots of techniques explored using layers of perfectly placed colours one over the other to paint dynamic and expressive paintings of glowing light and deep shade that truly represent Autumn 

Inktense Blocks and Inktense pencils used in combination to add detail, colour and expression to every autumn woodland painting - great work everyone!

The reason they are so popular with everyone (as mentioned), is because they are so versatile - especially the Inktense sticks. Inktense pencils are great for detailing in particular and much more too! Colour washes are permanent and fixed when dry with both pencils and sticks. A great advantage for artists who, like myself, like to glaze a lot! 

Close up of the contemporary water media techniques applied in this lovely expressive painting that are possible with Derwent Inktense

Inktense washes and drawn pastel type marks used throughout this great painting with Inktense Blocks and pencils to express a personal response to the Autumn woodland scene - looking good already and this is only half way through!

Lots of drawn, painted and layered Inktense Blocks and pencils in combination have been explored in lots of interesting ways to create this superb painting (half way through) of this woodland scene. Great composition, format and techniques - a stunning painting in the making

Watercolour techniques with added bonus
Unlike many other pigments (watercolour being the main comparison), the colours you mix with Inktense are the colours you get - ie. no oxidising or lightening off when dry. Great news! You can now focus on the natural act of painting itself instead of having to think all the time about the technical aspects of the colours you are mixing and the effects that will be created when dry. You have to be mindful of this with watercolour all the time - not so with Inktense!

Using a large Chinese brush and plenty of Inktense (premixed in large wells to hold plenty of pigment), multiple layers of wet in wet and glazed washes can confidently be applied one over the other to create soft and hard edged areas of colour beautifully contrasting with each other

Pastel techniques with versatility
It's not just watercolourists that find Inktense so easy to use (after all, many different techniques associated with watercolour can also be applied to Inktense), but pastelists love them too! Pastels I must say are my number one media because I can draw and paint with them at the same time. Lush bright and also subtle tinted colours are easily mixed one into the other with soft pastels. The good news is that with Derwent Inktense sticks many of these techniques are creatively possible too.

A close up of a painting showing great techniques with Derwent Inktense Blocks used over previous washes of Inktense to draw directly onto the watercolour paper to create contrasting marks, lines and textures

Multiple layers of Inktense washes from transparent to opaque are possible with Inktense Blocks - with a little Permanent White gouache added Inktense media really becomes opaque extending the creative possibilities of the media even further.  Dry pastel techniques with Inktense Blocks have added even more textural areas to this lovely Autumn painting near completion 

So, with Inktense you get the best of both worlds - a painting media and a colourful pastel media for working dry with too as all the colours easily mix one into and over the other and are tinted with the addition of their mixing white within the sets. 

Deep rich colours of transparent washes contrasting to luminous areas of bright colour are all possible with Inktense Blocks creating paintings full of depth

The Inktense creative experience - where to buy and how to join in! 
To try such techniques for yourself why not join me on one of my Derwent sponsored workshops or art holidays in the UK or abroad. You'll be amazed yourself just what you can achieve with these easy carry, colourful, versatile and creative products.

For a full list of art courses and holidays visit

Derwent Inktense can be purchased from Tim Tennant at 'The Ilkley Art Shop' in West Yorkshire at very competitive prices. Follow this link to find out more

For more information about Derwent products and the Inktense range please visit:

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Welcome to the midnight hour!

Robert Dutton Unison Colour Associate Artist with Cathi Dixon, Production Manager (left) and Helen Bullock, Marketing Manager at Unison Colour (right), checking the final selection of colours of Robert Dutton's Unison Colour 'Moorland Colours; box set of 36 glorious Unison Colour carefully selected hand made pastels to include new 'Dark 24' - such a versatile colour!
Unison Colour hand made soft pastels range has now been extended with a new and exceptionally popular dark colour range thanks to Unison Colour Associate Artist Robert Dutton from West Yorkshire. 

One of our Associate Professional Artists, Robert Dutton had noticed a while back that dark colours in the Unison Colour range looked a little limited. As such Robert contacted Unison Colour and proposed we collectively extend that part of the range to include a new deep and lively indigo blue.

Unison Colour are always open to new ideas and this felt like a good one and so began a close collaboration over an 18 month period with Robert to create a new dark shade of a  much sought after indigo blue.

Different stages of the colour adjustments in development to create the new Unison Colour 'Dark 24'
The new colours have been welcomed by a wide range of artists with different levels of ability in different disciplines who use naturally use Unison Colour because of their quality who now find the new darks an essential part of their working practice and now it would appear every pastel artist it cannot do without!

Early developments of the new Dark 24 in the Unison Colour lab at Unison Colour HQ - Thorneyburn Rectory' in the heart of the Northumberland National Park

The final chosen balance of pigments for the new Dark 24 - top quality pigments sourced for Unison Colour

Mixed and finally ready for rolling!

In action the highly skilled craft of hand rolling Unison Colour pastels - the new Dark 24 in the making!

The final chosen balance of carefully selected top quality pigments that create the hand make Unison Colour Dark 24. a beautiful inky blue that creates the most luscious darks in any pastel painting.

The creative journey mixing pigments and shades of the highest quality at Unison Colour HQ  (the historical 'Thorneyburn Rectory' in the heart of the Northumberland National Park), making small adjustments here, a new pigment ratio in several new hand rolled prototypes there, have now resulted in an exceptional range of beautiful rich darks indeed! 

The new collection of 8 new shades of darks (with colours inspired by Robert) include Dark 19, Dark 20, Dark 21, Dark 22, Dark 23, CB1, CB2. (4 blues, 2 purples, 2 blacks) a brand new deep blue 'dark 24' which Robert in particular was instrumental in making with Unison Colour. 

The full collection of the new Unison Colour Midnight Set - 8 essential dark colours for any pastelist
This colour alone is proving exceptionally popular with an ever increasing number of artists as the 'new blue' adds an exceptional luminous quality to dark areas of any pastel painting and makes exceptionally intriguing colours when blended with others.

Using the entire new dark range in combination and with other Unison Colour pastels, deep dark areas of pastel paintings now have a jewel like glow to them. 'A positive visual delight to use' as many artists say and follow with the highest standard of excellence and quality that Unison Colour are globally renown for.

The beautiful and robust creative and branded box set of Unison Colour Midnight Set of 8 colours

Discover for yourself how the new 'Midnight Set' inspired by professional UK artist Robert Dutton will add new dimensions and creativity to your own work - they are sure to inspire. 

Your midnight hour has arrived!

A closer look at 6 of the great colours in the Unison Colour Midnight Set - beautiful pastels ready to by complete from Jacksons Art

You can buy your very own Midnight Set at a really competitive price from Jacksons Art here

Monday 19 November 2018

Successes for all with 'Unisoncolour' pastels in Southern Spain

Toby proudly displays his colourful Unisoncolour pastel painting of the charming whitewashed mountain village of Frigiliana - the perfect box set of 18 'Moorland colours' to paint any subject!

There is no doubt, working with top quality pastels creates top quality results so Therefore it was with great delight that as an Associate artist for Unisoncolour, Dan Hersey, director of the world famous Unisoncolour brand of pastels, generously supported one of my European art holidays in Southern Spain - ‘Paint Andalucia’.
Unisoncolour carefully selected 18 colour box sets ready and waiting for each Paint Andalucia guest to use in the mountains of Southern Spain

Each student was generously given 18 carefully selected pastel colours by Unisoncolour to be taught how to create both dedicated pastel paintings with them and mixed media paintings also throughout this exciting art week. 

Jackie's mixed media painting of the mountains of Southern Spain creating those all important lights and darks with added depth using Unisoncolour soft pastels to complete her wonderful expressive painting

As Unisoncolour are a specially hand made professional pastel range using only the finest pigments every student was in for a treat! The top quality pigments used in each stick proved to be a real winner with everyone and the carefully chosen 18 colours each student used throughout their holiday were the perfect choices for the Spanish landscape. 

Sisters are doing it for themselves! Pam, Dianna and Mavis (in the centre of things) enjoying using the 18 colour box set of 'moorland colours' to paint the quiet pretty white washed village lanes of El Acebuchal in the mountains of Southern Spain

The pretty village of El Acebuchal. Everyones favourite painting location year after year with Paint Andalucia either in the village itself or on the peripheral edge looking into the village itself

A hillside of intoxicating fresh smelling pine trees basking in the late Autumn sun that surround the 'hidden village of El Acebuchal high in the mountains of Southern Spain. Inspirational painting views abound!

Jackie and David in a quiet spot in the shade of El Acebuchal exploring the dark, light and mid tones that just 18 Unisoncolours in the  'Moorland Colours' box set can really make!

Close up of the lovely painting created by David using Unisoncolour on Canson Mi-Tientes 'Touch' 350gsm (black). Professional colours and a great pastel support that work in total harmony for confident colourful pastel paintings - just like this one. Well done David!

Carolee enjoying using the 18 Unisoncolour 'Moorland colours' to paint those pretty white washed quiet lanes in El Acebuchal. 

David and Jackie using the 'moorland set' of Unisoncolour pastels to create two lovely pastel paintings of the village of Frigiliana in the glorious late season sunshine on Canson Mi-Tientes 'Touch' pastel paper - both being everyone's personal favourites choices to create fabulous pastel paintings, every time!

Our inspirational painting view of Frigiliana from the main square of this pretty mountain village - painting a tourist hot spot from a sunny hot spot!

Caroline enjoying getting started with Unisoncolour pastels on Canson Mi-Tientes Touch 350gsm (colour 'sand') painting the 'big view' of the village - proportions and scale drawing as well as expression being the key to success. Wrappers off the pastels next Caroline to explore all those subtle tones in all the white washed facades - a great start!

The 18 colours everyone used were actually part of a bigger set - my 36 Unisoncolour ‘Moorland Colours’ box set (created earlier in the year with Unisoncolour to include a brand new and popular dark pastel) proving to be equally as popular with artists internationally as a great addition to their existing range of colours from this world class brand.

The top quality of Unisoncolour soft pastels allowed rich colours to be applied in everyone's painting as artists worked colour over colour with dustless sumptuous layers. Soft blending, cross hatchings, scumbling and drawn marks  - both delicate and more confidently applied, created great pastel paintings from everyone.

Toby's top class pastel painting of El Acebuchal in its mountain setting. Great compositional painting choice Toby - captures the character of the historical mountain village perfectly from this well chosen viewpoint. 

In direct comparison to other brands of pastels which many students brought with them, Unisoncolour pastels was a clear winner! They were soon the first ones everyone was reaching for as they painted.  Effortless expressive creativity was made all the more possible thanks to Unisoncolour and their useful and versatile colours. 

David combining Unisoncolour pastels with other brands of pastel (all compatible with one another) to create his expressive pastel painting of Frigiliana with a very keenly observed composition full of interesting shapes, textures and colour

Here’s what students had to say about Unisoncolour pastels:

"I had not used Unison pastels before, only inferior products. I thought the quality was superb and the pigments really strong and reliable. With regard to the half-set at my disposal, I was very happy with the range of blues and paler shades - and found the green, brown and purple very satisfying. I enjoyed using Unison and shall definitely be investing in a larger set, as the quality the pastels lent my work was remarkable. Thanks also to Unison for generously offering our group the use of the sets."
Toby Goode

"The pastels, again, another new medium for me. I found them harder to get to grips with but could see how they would work really well in multimedia work. Robert Dutton did some fabulous demonstrations detailing their possibilities and I shall look forward to getting to grips with pastel work and giving him a run for his money!"
Lorraine Murdoch

"What a great week that was. We both learned so many new skills and it was a pleasure to use the materials that you had generously provided. As we already knew the Unison pastels are superb quality products but your particular chosen colour range suited the landscape to a tee. The soft qualities of the pastels allowed great optical blending and I think he whole group produced superb results."
Jackie Potter and David McCallum

I’ve just completed a week’s painting holiday in Andalucia, and have been introduced to Unison Soft Pastels.  As a complete novice in the use of pastels, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to try out a set.  I did like the colour set for the most part, but felt it needed to see a red tone, as well as another earth colour for the Spanish landscape, rather than rather too many blue greens.  The application of the pastels onto the paper offered a new freedom of expression and I was excited to see technique demos by Robert Dutton during this week.
Pam Wilson, Vancouver

All Paint Andalucia art holiday guests and myself would like to personally thanks  Unisoncolour for their generosity and support of this rewarding art holiday in Southern Spain. 

Demo painting using the 18 Unisoncolour box set of 'Moorland Colours'  to create a layered and expressive pastel painting interpreting the mountain view in Southern Spain. Choice of support being Canson Mi-Tientes 'Touch' (Tobacco colour). The perfect pastel paper for so many different painting subjects that works in perfect harmony with Unisoncolour soft pastels - every time!

Paul and Vicki Fellows (organisers and directors of Paint Andalucia would also like to thank Unisoncolour for providing each and every student the opportunity to use with these lovely top quality pastels throughout their art holiday which are now ready and waiting for next years Paint Andalucia artists to enjoy using too!  

To find out more about Unisoncolour pastels please visit

For full details about the complete box set of 36 ‘Moorland Colours’ in the Unisoncolour range please visit

For more information about Paint Andalucia 2019 mixed media and pastel art holiday with me please visit:

Sunday 18 November 2018

Painting those 'Inktense' colours in southern Spain

Derwent Paint Pan Travel Sets ready and waiting for 'Paint Andalucia' 2018 art guests to creatively explore and celebrate all those wonderful Spanish landscape colours

Derwent Inktense have proved to be a real hit with students once again - this time with 'Paint Andalucia' near Torrox in Southern Spain.

Using the all new 'Inktense Paint Pan Travel Set' the versatile ‘go anywhere, do anything’ portable 12 colour set inspired everyone to create lots of colourful and expressive paintings during our exciting art week together.

Caroline working on a large scale learning just how versatile Derewent Inktense Paint Pan Travel Set can be for paintings even on a large scale

Derwent Inktense Paint Pan Travel Set used in combination with Derwent Inktense sticks and watercolour - totally compatible with one another for richly layered paintings

Mavis using a large brush to paint with select colours from the Derwent 12 colour Paint Pan Travel set to create the first wet in wet techniques for her Spanish landscape painting. Clean colours every time!

Creative adventures included painting both outdoors and in the studio painting the dramatic and scenic locations in the quieter regions of the Costa del Sol. With several trips to iconic whitewashed and unspoilt mountain villages in the region during the week this allowed all Paint Andalucia art holiday guests the wonderful opportunity to work directly out doors with the this versatile painting media.

Lorraine using Derwent Paint Pan Travel Set Inktense colours on Canson Mi-Tientes Touch 350gsm pastel paper to create a colourful and expressive interpretation of her chosen subject, El Acebuchal - the hidden mountain village we all visited and painted later in the week - a lovely colourful painting Lorraine!

Lorraine's painting half way through. Notice how intense those colours are in all the right places and subtle when needed in others. Such a responsive media! A small box that packs big impact!

Toby painting the dramatic mountain views that surround  Paul and Vicki's home (your Paint Andalucia hosts) in the hills on the outskirts of Torrox in Southern Spain

Another great creative Derwent Inktense painting day at Paul and Vicki's home near Torrox - fab painting experiences for all with a real responsive media from Derwent

The paintings everyone created with the Derwent Inktense Paint Pan Travel Set where rich in colour, multiple layered and full of depth. Above all they proved to be a joy to use and easy to create stunning paintings again and again.

David exploring foreground detail with applications of the next stage washes to build his richly layered Inktense painting. Once dry Inktense is permanent - a big advantage for artists like David who want to create clean gazes of colour one over the other during the painting process.

Davids finished painting. A superb range of both painted and drawn marks explored with combinations of media - Inktense and soft pastel. 

Pam adding sharp bright detail with combinations of colours with the Derwent Paint Pan Travel Set to bring everything together in her expressive and colourful Spanish landscape painting - great layers with added depth Pam!

Jackie painting first stage washes wet in wet with Derwent Inktense Paint Pan Travel set colours and  exploring the different mark making possibilities even in the early stages with different types of brushes.

Outside or in, Derwent Paint Pan Travel Set proved to be a real winner with everyone. Fab colours, permanent colours when dry to allow cleaner glazing, and so much more

As a Derwent Associate Artist it was a privilege to teach everyone on the holiday so many different techniques with Inktense.

Following my regular demonstrations during each day both outdoors and in, everyone’s confidence with the media just grew. Creative techniques explored kept everyone fully focused with this inspirational landscape and exciting media and the work everyone created was really stunning.

Demonstrating the versatility of Derwent Inktense, the Paint Pan Travel Set as an underpainting for final marks with soft and hard pastel. All brushes and mark making created expressively and freely with such a easy to use media. (Photo courtesy of David McCallum).

Watercolour glazing techniques made possible with the quick drying permanent Inktense colours. 
(Photo courtesy of David McCallum).

Close up of the expressive painting techniques made possible with this really responsive clean glazing and painting media - Derwent Inktense (Photo courtesy of David McCallum).

Comments about the media were really positive too. Here's what some students had to say about Derwent Inktense Paint Pan Travel Set that each student was generously given by Derwent in support to use throughout their art holiday and take home to explore more too...

"The Derwent Inktense Paint Pan Travel Set seemed, on first appearance, to be one of those paint sets you might receive as a present from an aunt as a child. But, upon usage, I was pleasantly surprised to find how versatile it was. The colours are well chosen and the range you can produce by simple mixes was extensive. The mixing guide in the  accompanying brochure was so very helpful and accurate - and this made a big difference to my artwork when using the set. It would be great if Derwent could somehow incorporate the chart into the box; in that way, the set really would be the perfect travel companion.
Once I had discovered and understood for myself how permanent the Inktense colours are when applied to paper, it was plain sailing. I thought the effect of various glazes on the painting surface was terrific. More satisfying than watercolour, I would say (though that may be down to experience and a narrow range of watercolour tubes in my possession).
Certainly, with the mixing guide, the set was pretty fool-proof. And I shall definitely be using it again. A huge thank you to Derwent for generously providing the set."
Toby Goode

"What a great week that was. We both learned so many new skills and it was a pleasure to use the materials that you had generously provided. The inktense palate was a cute little box but surprisingly comprehensive in terms of both the colour range and mixing potential. We were both impressed by the strength of the colours. However as you demonstrated the versatility of the product was greatly extended by adding in other watercolours and gouache."
Jackie Potter and David McCallum

"Just completed a week’s painting holiday in Andalucia, and have been introduced to Derwent watercolour inkblocks.  The colours are a nice combination and easy to work with, especially the purple.  Their vivid strength adds a new dimension to what I may be painting in the future and I am really excited about the possibilities presented by Robert  Dutton during this week."
Pam Wilson

"Delighted with the Derwent Inktense Paint Pan Travel Set.  As a novice artist I obviously cannot compare it with any other medium but I really liked the colours, how well it mixes up to quite a strong colour and the great ways it can be used.  RD made the medium very accessible and it seems to have a multitude of uses which I look forward to investigating further.  Nattily sized, it will be easy to carry around but it strong enough colour to ensure a great result."
Lorraine Murdoch

A BIG THANKS to Derwent for generously sponsoring part of this year’s superb painting holiday in Southern Spain with a top quality Paint Pan Travel Set given to all. 

Guests travelling home as far away as Canada and America most certainly will be taking home not only great Inktense paintings and happy memories, but lots of useful art techniques as well that will enrich their future painting experiences - all thanks to Derwent!

For more information about Derwent Inktense and their other creative products visit:

Creative adventures await for you in Southern Spain!
For more information about Paint Andalucia art holiday in October 2019 please visit: