“Monochrome Portrait in Pastel Pencils”
Carole Massey


For The Lyme Regis Art Society, being locked down does not mean locked out from experiencing art! Once again we had an absorbing and instructive afternoon – this time, learning the art of portraiture from the warmth and comfort of our own homes.

Carole Massey – ready to go!

Now, trying to catch an exact image of someone is always tricky but Carole Massey showed how careful observations and measurements can produce very successful results.  Taking the position of different facial features, she plotted their relationships in a series of ratios, lines and angles as carefully and meticulously as an O Level geometry lesson. She demonstrated the fascinating symmetries of the human face and that it is the tiny deviations from this symmetry that give each face its individuality.

Pencils are knife sharpened and honed with sandpaper

Carole was working on the “Moonstone” shade of Canson pastel paper with a set of Skintone pastel pencils, knife-sharpened and honed with sandpaper. Her portrait would be one and a half times the size of the reference photo and using a Burnt Carmine brown, she first established the eyeline angle with a ruler before drawing it on the paper. 

The eyeline is established first

As the portrait took shape, the distances between the eyes, from the eye corners to the nostrils and to the corner of the mouth were all meticulously noted and used to build up an accurate placement of these features.

Measuring for accurate placement of features

Carole kept to a monochromatic range of colour but added the first white areas straight onto the paper as the white does not go well over colour. Later highlights were added with soft pastel and a background colour added to throw the jawline into relief. Caran D’ache charcoal filled in the darkest shadow areas.

Addition of some colour to the monochrome portrait brings it to life

It was fascinating to watch the engineering involved and the likeness and character of the face emerge from the page.

Carole has a book now in publication “The Beginner’s Guide to Drawing Portraits”, with step by step instructions. Available from Amazon for £9.17.

Moya Paul
LRAS Publicity

The final picture – “Iona” by Carole Massey