August 28, 2013
Q&A: Steven Hill
October 9, 2013

STEP-BY-STEP: German Shepherd

I wanted to share some great work-in-progress images which UK based artist Sue McDonagh kindly sent us.  The WIP images are from Sue’s German Shepherd portrait, using PanPastel on PastelMat, and they really show how she uses PanPastel to build up the painting in a very painterly way. (Scroll down for WIP images).

Finished painting: German Shepherd – PanPastel on Pastelmat – 11×16″

I asked Sue how much of the painting is with PanPastel. She said: “It’s all pure PanPastel – except the drawing-out of the dog which is in charcoal.  I made some very light pencil lines – squaring up to make sure I can get the dog in the frame.

I’m mostly using the Sofft Knife with the rounded end (#1) to lay in the largest areas, then the tiniest ones for the eyes.  I used the Sofft Sponge Bar Wedge for the fine hairs in the ears, and for the neck hair.  I used the Sofft Big Oval sponge for the background – I love that big sponge, it’s so tactile!

I’ve not been using PanPastel for very long – this is probably only my third painting in them!  I have been using traditional pastels for about 20 years though…but PanPastel colors have given me something different.

They first caught my eye when I was browsing the internet looking at art.  I was struck by how painterly they are, so I ordered some.  I confess, I was rather hoping not to like them, as I have invested a huge amount of money in my pastels already……….and to my horror, I absolutely fell in love with them.

The consistency is not like stick pastel at all – it’s much more creamy.  I love the soft edges, and the fact that I am able to keep layering colour with them.

Most revelatory for me though, is the ability to mix colour.  With stick pastels, no matter how many colours you have, you still have to compromise on certain colours. It’s a delight to be able to lift a little colour from this pot, swipe it gently over the next one and maybe even a third – and see the exact colour I wanted on the paper.

I pored over the various sets available – then took a deep breath, and ordered the entire set. So far I’ve painted a sunset from our local beach – sold that, a commissioned portrait of four granchildren on a beach – sold that, and the commissioned German Shepherd dog which I’ve just finished. So I’m happy that I’ve already recouped my investment in all 80 colours.”

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For more information on Sue and her work visit and her blog is: and