Home Painting Stephie Clark – How To Create Depth In Florals

Stephie Clark – How To Create Depth In Florals


For this month’s visitor put up, I’m happy to convey you this extremely popular artist and teacher from Australia. I’ve heard so many individuals say, “I want I knew how Stephie Clark paints her flowers.” Effectively, you’re about to search out out!

Don’t know Stephie’s work? Test this out!

Stephie Clark, Japanese Anemones, Pastelmat and soft pastels, 30 x30 cms. Sold. My spring garden
Stephie Clark, “Japanese Anemones,” Pastelmat and comfortable pastels, 30 x30 cms. Bought. My spring backyard

Earlier than I hand you over to Stephie Clark, let’s discover out a little bit bit about her!

Stephie Clark Bio

Stephie Clark is an Australian-based comfortable pastel artist, finest recognized for her uninhibited exploration of the pure world. Self-taught, Stephie started her love affair with comfortable pastels in 2011, cultivating inspiration from the Impressionism artwork motion and her shut remark of magnificence in nature. She can also be drawn to nature pictures and makes use of lots of her authentic pictures as references in her comfortable pastel work.  See extra of her work right here.

And now, over to Stephie!


Creativity exhibits itself in all kinds of the way at varied instances of our lives…mine has at all times been primarily based round color;  inside adorning, stitching, quilting and gardening…by no means artwork of any sort.

New Years’ Decision time got here round in 2011 and watercolour artwork struck an curiosity with me, so off to the library I went to check the how, when, and why of this medium, discuss a rabbit gap of pleasure and love. Then in November 2011, I went to go to a Picasso exhibition in Sydney and was extremely taken by his early tremendous artwork. I used to be so moved by this one portray, gray jug with apples, that portray instantly turned my subsequent precedence. Speeding to the closest artwork provides retailer I requested for one thing I might paint with rapidly….the candy girl handed me a small container of Conte pastels – my lifelong ardour in a single field.

With watercolour on the backburner, I used to be instantly obsessive about the immediacy and tactile pleasure of inserting a mark and watching the magic come to life on paper. Time-poor with a busy job, this medium was precisely for me;  simply paper, pastels, and me anytime, anyplace!

Stephie Clark, Dancing Pots, Lux archival and soft pastels, 40 x 40 cms
Stephie Clark, “Dancing Pots,” Lux archival and comfortable pastels, 40 x 40 cms

Squirrelled away in my residence studio, I painted each day studying extra about this magic medium and discovering my approach to sing my music within the language of florals. As a eager gardener, I solely ever wished to color florals and fruits. I’ve spent hours on the library researching my favorite artists, completely taken with the Seventeenth-century Dutch artists particularly Jan van Huysum and naturally the Impressionists Monet and Renoir. Adoration for the depth in these work turned a little bit of an obsession, and experimenting with some ways to provide that impact in my artwork has led me to the method I take advantage of at present.

Firstly, observe, observe, after which observe….from the background to the in-focus foreground…watch the sunshine in each aircraft; background, mid-ground and foreground. Visually separate the topic’s level of focus. 

Stephie Clark, Daisies In The Wind, Lux archival and soft pastels, 28 x 35 cms
Stephie Clark, “Daisies Within the Wind,” Lux archival and comfortable pastels, 28 x 35 cms

Commencing with the background, I’ll do a lightweight sketch with the aspect of a pastel or pan pastel to verify my composition and placement. 

Then the enjoyable bit begins. Utilizing Pastelmat or Lux Archival paper, I begin my backgrounds with mild layers of pastels, slowly and gently utilized, after which massaged into the depths of the paper. These layers are blended in a round movement to create the ‘cloudy, romantic ethereal’ look I’m after (thanks Renoir). 

Reference for "Spare 40 Minutes"
Reference for “Spare 40 Minutes”

Peeling off the topic and every part in-between and attending to the darks, lights and values in my background, leaves me with a ‘map’ for the place my topics shall be positioned, like waypoints to construct my creations. 

Pulling the background into the place my topics will sit permits me to color on prime of the background starting the creation of depth in my artwork. Within the background, utilizing a lightweight contact with dry pastels is crucial.

Subsequent, I deal with the mid-ground checking which leaves, petals, branches and so on. sit behind after which paint them, accordingly, guaranteeing that onerous and comfortable edges are used to develop that sense of depth and giving the viewer someplace to flee to and benefit from the serenity of quiet strokes.

Stroke route at this level is so essential. We virtually direct the visitors of our viewers’ eyes at this stage of our manufacturing…checking our mild story once more and specializing in our values to ship drama the place it’s wanted. For me, it’s like making lasagna…gently layer, layer, after which layer once more. 

At this stage, it’s so essential to verify that your strokes are misplaced and located so the attention is drawn to the place the focus or factors are. There could be greater than only one mid-ground after all. I simply look and ensure I’m portray from the again to the entrance. 

One significantly essential level proper right here is that when these laborious and comfortable edges are utilized and gently manipulated and peaceable… LEAVE THEM ALONE… no mixing, no touching with fingers as this may create mud! In the event you should return over them, do it with a pastel or pencil. We’re not on the lookout for any element within the mid-ground stage, simply instructed element. 

Stephie Clark, "Spare 40 Minutes," Pastelmat and soft pastels, 40 x 30 cms.
Stephie Clark, “Spare 40 Minutes,” Pastelmat and comfortable pastels, 40 x 30 cms.

I at all times strip my pastels of any paper wrapping as I’m all about utilizing the size of the pastel to create my strokes. I’m fairly keen on any damaged pastel items as they reveal complete magic with uncommon mark-making and typically even a present from the pastel gods within the type of an unimaginable mark that may change the route of my composition. Watch and hearken to your portray as you construct your piece and be open to creative license for issues to alter. Freedom to ‘go together with it’ and depart strokes imperfect is without doubt one of the issues I treasure most whereas placing down my artwork.

Color is absolutely the cream within the pastel course of for me, on account of the truth that I’m a self-professed pastel tragic. I’ve hundreds of those attractive sticks to play with and can hardly ever select a particular palette. Somewhat, I take advantage of a field with instructed colors I see in my photograph or nonetheless life setup. Learning the values and colors excite me no finish after which deciphering them MY means, at all times portray from darkish to mild in my mid/foregrounds. Once more, remark is essential…

Stephie Clark, “Posers,” 2017, La Carte pastel  paper and comfortable pastels, 24 x 30 cms, Bought.

Every pastel has a novel ‘really feel’ – some are creamy, some buttery, some so mild they really feel powdery. I really like utilizing dry pastels like Artwork Spectrum (AS) additional comfortable, JLuda, NuPastels, Unison Color,  and Mamuts as they’ve that dry refined contact. After all, there are exceptions to each rule and if I see the color and worth in one other creamier selection, I’ll use it however sparingly in order to not flood the paper with pigment.

Curiously, my darks are the pivotal level of my florals and fruit. I consistently inform my college students, ‘Begin darker than you assume you want’, including drama at each flip is how we create the depth and entice the viewer’s eye to find the magic of pastels. When blocking in our mid-ground, consistently assume, color and form. We’re not looking for element.

Stephie Clark, “French Spring,” 2019, Pastelmat and comfortable pastel, 30 x 40 cms. Bought

Beginning with a worth chart is essential to determine the darks, mids, lights, and highlights and the place these shall be positioned to be able to painting drama and environment. Simplifying into darkish, mid, and light-weight helps me no finish with placement.

Having the safety of my mild supply in my background, I can apply the worth wanted to create depth and dimension by layering my darks first. I typically use 3-4 darks to construct construction and my unashamed favourites are Sennelier 463 (deep blue) and 179 (black-green), and Terry Ludwig “eggplant.” I’m open to any deep umber and very often use both the Sennelier (unsure of the quantity) or the JLuda umber.

With my darks down, I can transfer up the worth chart and select the hue that’s required to work my approach to the lightest pastel that I see in that particular space. So… in my work….the lightest darkish will develop into the darkest mild….reread that!

Stephie Clark, "Black Fire Dahlias, 2017, Pastel Premier with soft pastels, 40 x 30 cm. Sold
Stephie Clark, “Black Fireplace Dahlias, 2017, Pastel Premier with comfortable pastels, 40 x 30 cm. Bought

By utilizing the mid-tones because the lightest darks and the darkest lights, we will arrange concord and quiet areas in our artwork that are simply as essential because the drama. It’s a steadiness of color, steadiness, and focus for me.

With the blended background highlighting our mild supply and the mid-ground containing planes of laborious and comfortable edges on kinds exhibiting the place the sunshine gently caresses branches, leaves and foliage, we now have set the stage for the divas.

At this stage, it’s a uncommon factor that I’ll contact the portray with my fingers (once more, guidelines are made to be damaged) as a result of our eyes are on a journey of studying concerning the topic from the again to the entrance. My mild supply is recommended within the background, once more addressed within the laborious and comfortable edges of my planes within the mi-ground. Now the sunshine will explode on my focus and disperse in a satisfying method over the themes which can be within the mild’s trajectory.

Stephie Clark, “Peonies season,” 2018, Pastelmat and comfortable pastels, 40 x 30 cms. Bought.

I hold stepping again to ensure that my darks are darkish sufficient and infrequently should go over and bump them up a bit if I’ve misplaced the dramatic shift from darkish to mild, remembering to color every flower from the again to the entrance, once more observing the order in how this topic comes in the direction of us.

At this stage of my portray, I can see the place the divas shall be performing. I can’t emphasize this sufficient – these florals shall be painted with direct, intentional strokes…untouched by human fingers! When mixing is critical,  this may solely be performed with one other pastel skimmed excessive of those strokes. Truthfully you lose the fantastic thing about mark-making in the event you play with foreground strokes…belief me I converse from a path well-worn from expertise!

Every flower, regardless of the route it’s going through, has a again, mid and entrance. Paint them simply as they develop. I begin with the center of the flower the place the petals come up from and the stalk comes out, to provide me a waypoint, someplace to convey the petals into. Then from darkish to mild, I’ll use my values to create type, glazing the colors collectively to provide Nature’s seal of approval for the hues she makes use of.

Stephie Clark, “Japanese Anemones,” Pastelmat and comfortable pastels, 30 x 30 cms. Bought. My spring backyard.

Sluggish and deliberate your strokes ought to be, with a recognized route earlier than you place the pastel on the paper. With the ultimate spotlight on the sting of your petals, take your pastel from the highest fringe of the petal and use a contact of strain to tug down the pigment into the subsequent worth as you launch your strain et voilá…the glazing magic occurs!

Deal with one space to painting element to your viewer, explaining to them the sunshine supply, the composition, and the route of the topic, then slowly make them areas the place the sunshine is much less intense, and the element implied with solely a suggestion. I am keen on the way in which Renoir brings you into his artwork solely to allow you to uncover the perimeters of his topics and your creative eye paints the element.

 My course of has been self-developed time beyond regulation and my methods adjusted to swimsuit the expectations of my very own artwork, however the fundamentals keep the identical: 

  1. Paint from the background to the foreground
  2. Out of focus to targeted 
  3. Observe your mild supply all through
  4. Paint color and form when blocking in
  5. Darkish to mild 


Wow! Sooooo a lot information there! So now you know the way Stephie Clark does it! Her secrets and techniques are out.

We need to hear from you! Was that useful? Do you will have questions? Tell us your ideas! 😀

And that’s it for now.

Till subsequent time,

~ Gail


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