The colours of moorland landscapes certainly stick in one’s mind but capturing them can be difficult. Unison Associative Artist, Robert Dutton has developed an entire set of soft pastels for Unison Pastels so you can enjoy these gorgeous colours taken from the landscape. He explains his inspiration for the palette and how to use the individual moorland colours to produce a particular atmosphere.
The Colours of the Moors in Soft Pastels
As a professional artist, I feel very lucky to live in ‘Gods own county’ – Yorkshire with inspirational painting locations pretty much on my doorstep and within easy reach of my studio in North Leeds.
I am particularly drawn to creating two types of paintings – moody paintings that add a sense of the dramatic or paintings full of energy and colour. The continual changing seasonal character of Yorkshire creates such diversity that whatever the weather the landscape is always inspirational and delivers!
I find that colours of Yorkshire throughout the year have the ability to evoke a deep emotion connection to different areas – be they coast, moor, valley or dale. Last light on the moor can create a sense of calm, whilst the energy of the sea invites you to stand in awe and absorbing nature’s beauty in a way that positively energises you.
Living in Leeds means I’m close to the South Pennines of Yorkshire in one direction and never far away from my beloved moors of West Yorkshire to escape the vast metropolis and find myself within easy reach of the vastness of Ilkley Moor for example that have inspired artists, poets and writers for centuries and have inspired me to paint these ever changing moorland colours for well over 20 years. There is even a famous song about the moor – ‘On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at’, the Yorkshire anthem!
I’m lucky to have the dramatic Yorkshire coast only an hour and half away by easy roads too. There is much to explore on the coast and creative visually throughout the year too.
Traditional, historical working fishing towns and pretty coastal villages give me the opportunity to explore a warmer palette of chosen colours.
Amongst or observing at distance the coastal villages with their cottages clinging to the cliffs, I automatically find myself thinking about the layers of colours needed to recreate the interlocking shapes in terms of pastels shades necessary to capture the scene.
Nothing if not spectacular, the wild stretches of coastline less frequently visited in the Autumn and Winter months such as Robin Hoods Bay a little south of the major coastal town of Whitby, inspires me to visit as the light is so special and the beaches quieter when out of season. To evoke that special ‘feel’ and inner connection to this favourite stretch of coastline the Unison Colour Moorland Colour box set is first out of the light rucksack and I’m eager to start working with the lovely hand made colours. With the beach pretty much to myself, the wildness of such a place is truly magical and I’m soon absorbed in what I’m doing and using the colours to connect with the energy and ambience of the coastal landscape.
The vast majority of my work is however, created with pastel. It is the directness of the medium I find so compelling – the way it feels like both drawing and painting at the same time. The medium is incredibly versatile – one minute you can be blending, the next layering with direct contact when applying pastel to the painting support creating a richness and luminosity of colour with speed that is unsurpassed with any other media.
Inspired to share my favourite ‘go to’ Unison Colour pastels with a wider audience to my delight Dan Hersey managing director of Unison Colour was enthusiastic to create a new box set of 36 colours and to market them as the Robert Dutton Moorland Colours collection.
Despite being initially inspired by the rich diversity of colours found throughout Yorkshire, this collection of carefully chosen colours is proving to be popular with artists of different levels of ability on a national and international level too. The unique collection of light, dark, complementary colours…
Robert is an award winning professional pastel artist and regular contributor to ‘The Artist’ magazine, a UK Ambassador for Canson Papers and Nitram Charcoal (Canada) and also an Associate artist for Derwent and Unison Colour.
A popular tutor, he also teaches very successful art holidays and short art breaks in The Peak District, North Norfolk, The Lake District, France and Spain with places filling quickly. A major contributor recently to a major publication ‘Artists drawing techniques’ published by DK Life, Robert demonstrated his versatility as an artist by taking the lead for the pastel section. The book is now one of their best selling publications.
He regularly exhibits with the Federation of British Artists in The pastel Society in London and in 2018 was highly successful with his first entries with the Society of Graphic Fine Artists in London winning ‘best monotone work’ for one of his expressive large scale drawings.