Tony Allain – pastel painting live demo

Delivered by Mall Galleries via Facebook video on January 30th 2021.

A live demo of anything is hair-raising enough but when you’re not only the star turn but also the camera operator, sound engineer, and studio assistant, and you’re facing a faceless but constantly chattering stream of comments with nobody mediating them for you, it must be a nightmare. So absolute respect to Tony Allain for delivering two pastel paintings in under two hours, along with a commentary free of gloss and any sort of falutin.

This is towards the middle of the first painting which he made from a sketch just off-screen, and while I’m not drawn to his rather scenic subject matter, his quick darting style – like a dragonfly flitting and dipping over a pond – really does appeal. He has a huge stock of pastels, all of which seemed to land on the support like soft butter yet still delivered sharp edges when necessary. Perhaps this was to do with the support which, he told us, was La Carte paper which is very toothy. He also used Uart pastel paper/board which is also sanded.

Asked about fixative, Allain said he didn’t use this, preferring flat mounting under glass and remarking that Degas’ pastel paintings looked as fresh now as they did when Degas made them, although I’m not sure how he would judge that. Someone else recommended glassine which appears to be a translucent paper of various weights that can also be rendered opaque with dyes.

My takeaway from this is once again the simplicity of the marks, the reduction of detail, and the swiftness of movement that seems to facilitate both.

Tony Allain. Tony Allain Fine Art.

La Carte paper. One source here, there are others Sennelier La Carte Pastel Card – Ken Bromley Art Supplies

Uart pastel paper/board. One of several sources Uart Pastel Paper (

Glassine. Via Wikipedia Glassine – Wikipedia

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