This month I ran a 5 Day Challenge with Unison Colour Soft Pastel. We hosted over 900 attendees from all over the world. I developed videos and PDF’s to support people in creating this beautiful scene of Old Harry Rocks, Studland. It’s a view I know well and I knew the image would be perfect for artists at all levels. It’s rewarding for beginners but there’s several challenging techniques to master for the advanced Artist.

I’m busy putting the last few touches to my next workshop with Unison Colour which starts next week. I’ve designed a beautiful and unique set of Unison Colour Pastels for the workshop and we are creating a stunning view of Poole Harbour in Sandbanks. More on that next week but for now, I thought you’d enjoy hearing from one of my long standing clients. Alex and I have known each other for many years, she’s commissioned me draw her animals and we’ve kept in touch. I’ll let her continue the story from here.


My head tells me I’m not artistic!  But I have passion! A passion for animals led me to my first encounter with Nina Squire when I commissioned her to paint a pastel portrait of my two dogs. Fast forward 9 years, with the whole country in Lockdown, my heart told me I wanted to have a go at pastel creations. As my starting point, I tracked down Nina for some advice. She couldn’t have been more lovely and encouraging and, as luck would have it, was developing some online tuition.  I was very happy to be a guinea pig!  This was my first foray, but sadly did not last long as several other things took priority on my time, but my dream was never far from my mind.

By coincidence, Nina and I spoke again earlier this year, into Lockdown 3,  just before her Old Harry workshop.  There was nothing to stop me.  I already had paper, pastels, and I wasn’t working.  No excuses!  This time I was well and truly sucked in!  The workshop was perfect, by demonstrating a little bit more of the painting by video each day for five days, it both builds momentum and keeps you motivated. There is no massive time commitment;  the videos last about 10 minutes, you can watch at a time to suit you and rewind/replay as often as you want; you can then spend as long as you want working on your own piece using the techniques demonstrated.  A daily Q&A allows you to post any queries you might have which are then addressed in the evening in a live video (also available to replay).

What made a massive difference to me was the interaction with other (aspiring) artists. Previously, although it was ‘life’ that got in the way, it was harder doing the journey ‘solo’.   When 900 people from around the world are posting their work online for everyone to see, you get a much greater understanding of the fact that everyone is on their own journey.  Some are already accomplished artists, but I was certainly not alone in being at the start of my journey.  Seeing other work is an education in itself in shaping your own preferences.  It is not just about learning techniques.  It is about learning to accept where you are, to understand that there is no right or wrong and about being part of a very international supportive community.  This should not be underestimated amidst the isolation of lockdown.

Painting animals is my favourite subject but Nina has taught me that there is room for seascapes too.  They are more forgiving to beginners, allow more freedom and are a great way to practise transferable techniques and learn more about the art of pastelling.

Art can be a solitary pastime, but particularly for newcomers, I cannot recommend highly enough signing up for one of Nina’s online workshops.  I guarantee you will come away enriched by your learning and the joy of sharing, and you will be wanting more.  

I’m looking forward to the Unison Colour Sandbanks ‘Golden Hour’ at the end of February.

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