Pastel painting techniques and tutorial with Kim MacKenzie I Colour In Your Life

Pastel painting techniques and tutorial with Kim MacKenzie I Colour In Your Life


G’day viewers, my name’s Sophia Stacey, and I’d like to invite you to come on a journey of creativity and learning and adventure through the series Colour In Your Life. So grab your kids, your brothers, your sisters, your aunties, uncles, and mums and dads and come and see how some of the best artists do what they do. (Music Plays) (Sophia) Today we’re going to Brisbane, to see Kim MacKenzie, a wonderful pastel artist, so lets go and see what she’s up to in her studio. (Kim) Right, so lets start right at the beginning. We have a blank piece of paper and we’re going to develop something that might hopefully, look something as finished as this art work in the background. So, I have to say up front I’m not a traditional pastellist. Tradition pastellists usually do portraits or landscapes, very you know, traditional types of artwork, what I would call left brain artwork. And they use different types of pastel papers, usually with a grain or a tooth, but I use a hundred percent cotton paper. (Sophia) That’s really interesting Kim, I don’t think I’ve come across cotton paper before. Can you tell us where you get it from, and what brand it is? (Kim) Yes, well often it’s called Rag – a hundred percent Rag paper, being cotton based, it’s like a fabric if you like. It’s generally used for print making, because you can’t probably see here, but when you go looking for it in the shops, have a feel of the paper. It’s very thick, it’s quite heavy and very absorbent. So when you use it for print making, it takes the print blocks very easily. You can almost see dints in it, it’s that soft and spongy. (Sophia) And obviously fantastic for pastel work. (Kim) Fantastic for soft pastel work, so we need to you know specify here that I’ve used soft pastels. And they are chalk based pastels, so they’re very powdery, and of course you’ll see when we start to use it on the cotton paper it blends beautifully. And very easy to create vibrant semi abstract, what you’d call probably more contemporary art works. Okay, so here’s our paper. One of the disadvantages I guess with soft pastel is it’s quite messy, so you need to work with cloths all the time. You need to be keeping your hands clean, your fingers cleaned. I use a wet, a Wet Ones type of cloth as well, to keep the hands clean, and also, many, many rags. Your pastels can get quite grimy, so when you’re taking a pastel to use it, I’m always actually cleaning the pastel as well, so you need a variety of rags for different purposes. The other thing is being a chalk based medium, and using an artist quality material – which is absolutely essential – which I’ll get to in a moment. The difference between the cheap and nontoxic and the art quality, they’re much more expensive of course. The quality is just you know, it’s not even it’s just such pure quality, but the problem is that a lot of these are toxic; a lot of the colours are toxic, and you’re handling these directly. So some people like to use a mask, because it gets very dusty, and you’re blowing it all the time. (Sophia) Which is not going to be very good for us today so, but it’s (Kim) No it’s not. (Sophia) a good thing to point out to the audience. (Kim) Yes, it is. It’s a little bit uncomfortable and clunky and too, (Sophia) Especially with a microphone on. (Kim) but I think it’s best work place practice to actually use some kind of protection there. The other thing is too, your hands, some people might like to use very fine glove, or you know, some protection so that some of the pigments don’t go through. So it is, it is something that you need to think about, particularly if you have skin allergies or whatever so, lets not dwell on that. But lets go to the positive side of pastels. (Sophia) Fantastic. (Kim) As you can see, fantastic beautiful colour. You can get a range of hard to soft, soft pastels. Amazing colours available in the art shops these days. One of my greatest thrills is going to the pastel section, and just standing there and trying to choose a colour. Greatest joy that I have. So when you get a new pastel that looks a bit like that; it has a wrapping around it; it’s very neat and tidy. Once you start getting into things, I rip off the label, I break them in half and they look like that. All sorts of little pieces that become very valuable. So I often have people in my workshops are really afraid of taking the wrapping off and using them. Got to get rid of that, you got to get stuck straight into them. These are your tools, they’re not a new piece of pastel. Okay, so lets start. I know what I’m going to do here, but we’re going to talk about that a little bit later, because the right brain approach is generally very open before you create, so you haven’t got a set thing in mind, and there’s away of actually doing that, which is what I teach in my workshops. But I do know what I’m going to do; we planned this a little bit earlier. I’ve planned this because it’s a continuous theme from an earlier artwork which is called Brain Integration. It’s an important artwork that I did not so long ago, and it opened up a lot of thinking for me. And this artwork is an extension of that. So essentially, what we did in that artwork, is we defined the spectrum of left versus right brain. And you’ll see that at the bottom of that artwork, I’ve put the left brain, right as a point, and the top of the artwork, a very open space for right brain thinking. So in this artwork I’m reversing that. This is the left brain up here, this is the right brain open space there, and you’ll see in that artwork that I’ve used red brain, red colour to depict the actual the peak of the left the brain activity. (Sophia) Kim, this is something that’s very unique. There’s a lot of colour therapy that goes into your work as well. (Kim) There is, Sophia.That’s totally correct. What we’re doing is we’re exploring colour, and the vibration of colour if you like, as a theory so that we’re conscious in the workshops that I teach, that when we pick up a colour, we’re actually playing with a light frequency. So light frequency like sound frequencies have certain properties. They’re frequencies of energy. So when you’re conscious of that when you’re working, you can actually bring that theory in, so that the actual diagram is having an impact through, through a visual design. (Sophia) And Kim, this is not just on an artistic level, but you’ve been working with numerous scientists as well. Can you tell us a bit more about that? (Kim) Well I actually have met a lovely colleague, and a scientist colleague through other, other activities through the university, in women in technology, because that’s one of my academic disciplines. And she didn’t know I was an artist; she came and visited me here, and she was really, really excited about the work I was doing. And specifically the Brain Integration work. She was really interested in my interpretation and took that away. So it made me realise the power of creating using artwork, right brain, semi abstract works to try and distill very large complex ideas into simple you know, simple designs to help add a new thought, or a new perspective to these traditional disciplines. So I’m really excited in sort you know, left right brain works, and trying to use a visual medium to explore that. (Sophia) You’ve also had your artwork put on numerous magazine covers in Australia, New Zealand and the United States. (Kim) I’ve been very grateful for these opportunities. I love the way that complex topics can use simple diagrams to depict very you know, big abstract complex ideas. For example, the two US book covers I did, they were called Truth, was one of them, and United, was the other one. That was the title of the of the artworks. So they were specifically selected by some US designers to depict these very complex ideas that these books were trying to create. So you know, I was thrilled. Using white is really important in this coloured pastel work. It acts like a mixer if you like. I would never leave any white area, but if I wanted to be white, I actually you know, use a lot of the white pastel, and probably bring in some other shades. When you go to the pastel shop there’s so many varieties of white. So you’ll get a sense, you could probably do a whole pastel work with white, and it would be an interesting artwork. So the point being, mainly for this type of work I used it earlier in places where I want to contrast colour. It helps you to blend as you can see, its sort of like putting flour into a cake; it blinds and holds it together. It allows you to mix and you know, create patterns and relationships between colour. So it’s very important you wouldn’t realise how much you would use a white on actually on a coloured work. So I’m taking the white here, you can see I’m using it as a diluter of the colour. Once you put that down it allows you to blend; it allows you to lighten shades. It’s like a conjoint, so a very, very important part of your tool kit. (Sophia) There’s some other images you have here, Kim, that I’d like to make reference to. And one is called Fly, and its two beautiful beings, it looks like they’re dancing around a moon. There’s another one we have called Together Forever. (Kim) They were all done around the same time, when I met my husband actually, so that was a very inspirational heart phase of my life. So nothing like significant times in your life to inspire great design work. So yes, that was a coming together of two worlds, my husband and I. We’ve been married for nineteen years now. He’s been a great supporter of my work of course, and I wouldn’t be here today without him. (Sophia) So Kim, you’ve not only had a fantastic art career, but you actually have a PHD as well. Can you tell the viewers a little bit about your studies? (Kim) I actually went back to university as a mature age student after about fifteen years of full time artist. And it was a tough road, it was wonderful and I worked incredibly hard. And it was the time when the internet was rising, and websites were happening, and I wanted to learn more about that, so I could promote my work online. I was starting to get a lot of opportunities from overseas. My work was starting to be used in the Inspector Gadget Two movies, so that was fantastic and there was some recognition really brewing. And then I love study; I love the uni life; I actually sort of got caught in this whole new direction. It was a great thing. I studied technology, and international business, and went on to teach there, and worked in the uni environment for a couple of years. Fantastic, loved it, developed my left brain which I needed, because I had focused so much on the right brain. (Sophia) But you also have your own radio show, which is really interesting. Can you tell me a little bit about the people and the topics that you cover on this show? (Kim) It’s called Rise, and it’s exploring new cultures of market practice. And we’re going to be exploring any one, any creative person, any business person that’s doing new innovative visionary, you know, new things out there contributing to the world. (Sophia) And so, Kim, if people want to get in touch with you about your workshops, or to find out how to tune into your radio show, what’s your website? (Kim) Yes please, I’d love to hear from anyone that would like to either come on the show, or just be a part of the show, or just listen to the show. So my website is Kim S MacKenzie art dot com dot au. (Sophia) Now Kim, you mentioned earlier that you’ve had your work included in a feature film? (Kim) They were actually filming here in Brisbane, so I was very fortunate to have made connection with the set designer on that show, and he chose quite a number of works for the movie set. The Kiss and the Love were two artworks that they really featured. The same gentleman really loved my work which was fantastic. And he then used it for the filming of the Sleep Over Club, the UK television series as well. So you know, a bit child like, a bit colourful and bright, good for young audiences. This is why it’s great for Australian crafts people and artists to work with you know, in the film industry and to, to seek other opportunities you know, like set design work. Once you can get your name out there a little bit, and you’re doing something a bit different and innovative, the world’s your oyster. So now we’re starting to, and I am speeding up this process up a little bit for this shooting, but you can start to see that I’m bringing in detail. So the correct… this is actually a vertical work. So you can start to see that we’re taking the shape. There’s something going on here; it’s starting to come alive. And this is where we start using detail, and you use the pastel a little bit differently to the big blending and covering the background areas. So you can see I’ve just basically emphasised one of the sort of corners of the pastel, to create quite a sharp defining line on one side. So you use, you adjust the pressure of that, that point depending on how much you depth you want in there. You just come along with your finger, great utensils, and here again, just blend the same as you have before. But you can start to see that you can really start to bring in some detail, finishing detail there. (Sophia) You’ve got another one here called, Summer Posy. (Kim) Yes, Summer Posy was part of a collection that was taken on by APN Net, they were a French art licensing company, so I was very thrilled about that. I think they took on about twelve images. So now I’m just, I’m really just building up the depth within each of the main key design areas. So I might be adding a little bit of extra colour in like this. (Sophia) You had an experience living in New Guinea. (Kim) I did, so we were very fortunate to have moved to Port Moresby, in Papua New Guinea, when I was eleven, twelve and thirteen. And I went to school in Port Moresby. My father got a two year contract up there. I had an amazing time; I absolutely loved New Guinea, and it was when I had my first real art experience. Of course we had to come home then didn’t we? Two years later, back to the same environment in suburban Melbourne. And that was really difficult, and I really struggled with that personally. And it was at that point that my mother, very wonderfully decided to put me into a specialised art school at Box Hill Tech. So this was a pilot art course for year eleven and twelve students. We did I think eleven art subjects, preparing us to go into tertiary education that majored in one of the art fields. It was a pilot, fantastic course, and I sort of never looked back from there, so mum was really good at picking that. So she was a very creative lady, very passionate about following your dream, very passionate about being who you are. And I think she was, played a very, very important role in helping us as children you know, become exactly who we wanted to become, and have confidence to do that. So very fortunate, I think that you know, really made a big difference. Normally I would work this up a lot more still, and then at the very end, I come and do my final little bit of detail which I’m going to do now. I wouldn’t normally jump into this early but we need to show you how that process works. So as you can see, we’ve got our work, it’s looking a little bit like that. And she’s ready, I’m finally happy with it. I think that’s as solid as I can make it. I’m ready to put on my final pieces. This is an intuitive process when you know that it’s ready and something usually comes to my mind. What exactly that finishing piece needs to be, so that’s the mystery of this great semi abstract process. This is an interacting force. So you can see, that’s pretty scary isn’t it? You’ve taken weeks developing a background – bang – you’re going and putting something quite radical over the whole top of it. So what I’m attempting to do here is an integration of left brain focus, with right brain openness, married with the intelligence of the heart. So many believe our intelligence lies not only in the brain, in the right and left brain, but in the intelligence of the heart as well. So I’ve attempted a combination of a heart intelligence, combined with the left and right brain. And I’ve just combined them together with this spiral energy that unifies it all together. (Sophia) Thank you, Kim, it’s been a wonderful day, and sharing these mind expanding artworks with us. But with the beauty of television, you can now see the final image that Kim has had the chance to work on. Thank you very much, Kim. (Kim) You’re most welcome. (Sophia) It’s been a very mind opening and thoughtful day. (Kim) Lovely, thank you, it’s been an absolute delight to share this process with you. (Sophia) Well viewers, what another fantastic day on Colour In Your Life. Kim, thank you so much for having us in your studio. (Kim) You’re most welcome. (Sophia) I love your work; I love the colours; I love the theory behind your work. (Kim) Thank you. (Sophia) I don’t think we’ve had an artist on the show before that really portrays what you’re trying to portray, so thank you so much for sharing it with us and the viewers today. (Kim) Well thank you, thank you to the viewers. And can I just you know, honour what you guys are doing. It’s a fantastic program. Such a privilege to be involved with your wonderful team, and the work that you’re doing, and the opportunity that you’re giving us to showcase our unique Australian work. It’s really important, and you’re doing a great job. Sophia, thank you so much. (Sophia) Thank you so much. And we’d also, obviously like to thank Graeme Stevenson. (Kim) Thank you, Graeme. (Sophia) And if you’d like to come and see more of Kim’s work, hear more about her workshops, and her radio program, and there’s some other really interesting things going on in Kim’s life that she’ll be updating on her website. If you can tell the viewers again your website is? (Kim) Yes, it’s www dot Kim S MacKenzie art dot com dot au. You can contact me through that page as well, my contact details are there. (Sophia) Fantastic, and of course viewers remember to come and see us at colour in your life dot dot com dot au. But as we always say – remember: make sure you put some colour in your life, and we’ll see you next time. Bye. (Kim) Thank you. Bye.

5 thoughts on “Pastel painting techniques and tutorial with Kim MacKenzie I Colour In Your Life

  1. To dear Colour In Your Life Artist enthusiasts, thank you so much for watching this wonderful video of my personal art and approach featured by the very special Sophia and Graeme CIYL team. My approach to artwork is obviously very 'outside the square' and I thank you all very much for accommodating the application of abstract artwork for understanding deep phenomena. My thinking around this approach to using artwork to understand complex scientific phenomena has developed much more since this show, and I look forward to contributing significantly to this field in the future and connecting with like minded scientifically-orientated intuitive artists. Many thanks, and BIG LOVE to you, Kim

  2. Very interesting and well explained – a busy and talented lady! Kim, do you seal your work once it's complete? Also, can you frame this with glass or not?

  3. I'm just tipping into the vibrant world of pastels, this is so inspiring, Kim, thank you! As an hereditary Shaman and having come the way of science, formal healthcare and a generous dollop of metaphysics, it really speaks to me. Is the paper hot pressed and what weight do you work on, please?

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