I recently attended a 5 day intensive, live-in Artable retreat (with 10 students) at the Red Feather Inn in Hadspen (near Launceston) with the much loved and revered Lyn Diefenbach. Lyn won Australian Master Pastellist of the Year last year and has recently featured prominently in the Australian Artist magazine. She is known for her realism, particularly in her floral renditions and portraits. Lyn’s amazing cv and samples of her work can be seen here http://ldief.com/

I was particularly impressed with Lyn’s works at the Pastel Expo in Caloundra in September last year. I loved her piece Reflecting in Paris which you can view on her website.

The retreat was amazing with wonderful accommodation and gourmet food. Our studio was a lovely old barn in stunning gardens. The students were from all over Australia, including from as far away as Darwin. I was the only Tasmanian on the course.

I took the opportunity during the retreat to work on both my florals and people portraits and manged to complete 5 pieces during the course. Lyn was so generous with her personal tuition and attention. I learnt so much from her and feel inspired to do so much more in pastels. The workshop was also challenging as we had to draw everything from scratch. I learnt some valuable lessons in people drawing with “lines of length” and “plumb lines” using a wooden skewer to assist! I also had to draw a bar scene with mirror, involving lots of bottles and glasses reflecting the light. It was a photo I took in the bar in the Park Hyatt Siem Reap Cambodia in November last year.

I also did a pastel on Pastelboard of a large bowl of red gladiolis that I photographed in the foyer of the Park Hyatt in Saigon, also during our trip of Vietnam and Cambodia late last year. I was able to use some of the beautiful Art Spectrum Extra Soft pastels in metallic colours for the background.

By way of portraits, I painted 6 year old Eza, the daughter of Elly, a young lady who we sponsored for many years in Bali. I also did a portrait of Nghia, our Scenic tour guide in Vietnam  and Cambodia, which I hope to get to him. The background was done in his beloved Chelsea colours.

I took lots of notes from  Lyn’s  classes with a view to reinforcing my learnings at a later stage. Importantly, I did learn that I need to bolder and braver in my choice of colours, even in  portraits (and use any white much more sparingly). I was also amazed by Lyn’s light touch on the pastel paper and her ability to do fine lines without pastel pencils!  I hope to share some of the tips and tricks that I learnt in subsequent blogs.