Author Archives: Kay Witt

About Kay Witt

Kay creates hand drawn pastel paintings of animals capturing their spirit and personality. Her lifelike paintings seem so real they could speak. Her favorite subjects are horses and wolves. She has loved and admired horses since childhood. She has had a varied career as an illustrator and graphic artist. She has designed illustrations for book covers, logos, and Christmas cards. She has also painted wall murals for businesses and private homes as well as set backgrounds. Kay currently teaches pastel workshops and gives art lessons in her home studio in Strasburg, VA. All skill levels are invited to attend. A list of available workshops can be found on her website, on the Workshop page. She is a member of the Pastel Society of America, the Pastel Society of Virginia, the Artisan Trail of Shenandoah Valley and the Valley Educational Center for the Creative Arts. See for more information.

Painting Portraits with Sanguine Conte Pencil

I learned something new this week!

Not sure why I never heard of it before.

It’s an Old Masters technique using Conte pencils or Chalks with the colors Sanguine (red), White and Black. No other colors. Pretty cool!  This week I was inspired by the drawings of Susan Lyon using this method.  I decided to give it a try and was delighted with my results.  Now I want to share what I learned with you.


The surface I used is new to me.  It Rives BFK print making paper in cream color. I used  a Sanguine Conte pencil and a Conte pencil #31 for some extra dark areas. This is all you need plus a paper towel for blending and a kneaded eraser for lifting lights. That’s all!!

The subject I chose was my granddaughter. I had taken the photo a few years ago intending to paint it in watercolor, but never got around to it.  This turned out to be perfect for this experiment. So I began.

First, I converted the photo to a value only graphic so I could compare my drawing as I went along. Values are more important than color and I took several photos of my work along the way to be sure I was on track. Here is my original photo and the graphic of the values:







Original Photo                                                                                   Value Graphic

The graphic image helped me to see the values more clearly. You can convert any image to a graphic like this with photo shop (that’s what I used) or a free phone app. With this in mind I began.

Here’s my first progress shot and graphic of my values:







As you can see, I am off to a good start but there are not enough dark values ,so added more as I went along. Here’s my next progress photo:







Things are looking better and the values are looking balanced. At this point I added the Conte #31 to darken the values more, in the hair particularly. Next step:









I am very happy with the drawing at this point and the hardest part is deciding where to end it! I decide not to add many more details. I am happy with the results and hope you will give this a try.









Conte Sanguine and #31 include in photo.                                              Finished Portrait!

Essential Pastels

Hi Artists!

I am always being asked what are my favorite pastels ; so today I thought I would address that question . So I will share my favorite pastels that I use in almost every painting. ☺

First of all, my essential pastels are NuPastels and Rembrandts. I also love Girault pastels. They are smooth and creamy although a bit more pricey. So if your budget has room, consider a set of those.

Personally I have lots and lots of pastels. I am a collector of sorts. I love them all but to start out you only need a few.







Here is a list of my favorite NuPastels:


  • 229 Black
  • 259 Dark Grey
  • 209 Deep Warm Grey
  • 305 Spruce Blue


  • 203 Burnt Sienna
  • 253 Cocoa Brown
  • 353 Cordovan
  • 263 Indian Red
  • 343 Rust

Highlight Colors

  • 211 White
  • 277 Ivory
  • 299 Light Cool Grey
  • 249 Light Warm Grey
  • 276 Buff


  • 207 Chrome Yellow
  • 266 Pale Vermilion
  • 233 Raw Sienna
  • 308 Palm Green
  • 298 Bottle Green
  • 348 Endive

Rembrandt Colors

I use these colors for all my under layers when I paint. These are the basic colors I use for all my wolves and horses.☺

Darks and Greys

  • 700.5 Black
  • 704.3 Dark Grey (my favorite dark grey)
  • 704.7 Grey (Optional)
  • 704.8 Grey (Optional)
  • 707.8 Mouse Grey
  • 727.5 Blue Grey (Optional)
  • 727.8 Blue Grey (Optional)
  • All the greys are nice if you can get them all!


  • 411.5 Burnt Sienna
  • 411.3 Burnt Sienna
  • 409.5 Burnt Umber
  • 538.5 Mars Violet


These are useful in backgrounds.

  • 627.2 Cinnabar Green Deep (fabulous dark green!)
  • 626.3 Cinnabar Green Light
  • 626.5 Cinnabar Green Light
  • 231.5 Gold Ochre


These are useful for backgrounds especially mixed with the greens.

  • 570.7 Thalo Blue
  • 508.8 Prussian Blue
  • 506.9 Ultra Blue Light
  • 505.8 Ultra Blue


  • 100.5 White


There are pencils I use in e3very painting that I think should be part of everyone’s pastel materials collection.

  • General White Charcoal Pencil
  • General Charcoal Pencil 6B, 4B and 2B
  • 9B Graphite Pencil (Prismacolor or Cretacolor Brand)

With these colors you can paint most anything and you can always add more as you delve deeper into pastels.

These will cost you around $110 at Dick Blick. If you can spend a little more, get a small set of Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel pencils as well.

Hope this is helpful and I will discuss more about these specific pastels in the future. Please leave comments on topics you are interested in the comments or send me an email at


Experimenting with New Materials

I have been experimenting with new materials to see what affects I can achieve. Besides that, its just fun!!

I had a watercolor I had painted a few years ago of my dog that just didn’t quite make it. One of those failed paintings . Everybody has those, right?

Even though it didn’t hit the mark, I liked it enough to I save it.  (In fact this painting is what got me experimenting with pastels!☺)

Then the other day I found it and thought to myself, “How can I save this painting and make it better?”
The “before” photo is pictured below.






New Products I Tried-and Loved!

To get started, I purchased some Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor pencils and some Neocolor 2 Watersoluble Pastels. I also had my Derwent Pastel Pencils. Sooo I began to experiment. The Neocolors are like crayons- you scribble them on and then wet them and they dissolve!! The great thing about them is that they stay brilliant when dry!!


Sooo I really like these new products and I think they have promise for creating new art in the future.

First, I used a wet brush to make her eyes bigger by wiping out the previously applied watercolor. After the paper dried , I used the tip of my watercolor brush to wet the top of the Neocolor and then applied the color to the eyes. It worked very well. The wet brush liquefied the color on the tip making it like paint!  Then I used the black the same way to darken around her eyes.

I used the pencils in the ears and on the floor to define lines. I also use the pencils on the paws. There is also some in the back corner on the right above the dog. After coloring with the pencils,  I used a water brush by Faber-Castell to wet and blend the color. I really liked the brush. It has its own reservoir and that kept the brush tip constantly wet. I used the Neocolors to scribble in the fur with black and I also used blue and navy. Then using the wet brush, I blended the colors together. After all those layers dried well. I used my pastel pencils to add the white fur and also some burnt sienna to the fur. For the fur on the back that is not as bright I used a grey.

The painting was done on 140# Cold press Arches. I really liked the effect but would love to try it on a hot press paper that is smoother.

Below is the “after” photo of my art.








Let me know your thoughts on this process and if you would like to learn more. I would love to make another and experiment a little more. let me know if you would be interested!

Happy Painting!!


Pride of the Savannah

I just finished this painting of an African male lion. I really enjoyed painting him. He will be the subject of a workshop in September. I had planned this well in advance of recent events, but it is good to use the opportunity to speak out against killing these magnificent animals.

The original is for sale and a portion of the proceeds will be go to a wildlife preservation society.

Lion 4

Tips and Techniques

Today, I am starting a new series to help you improve your skills and your art. The goal is to post a new topic in this category every week. If you have questions or ideas, please send me an email. I would love that. If I dont know the answer I will research it for you!

Toady, I thought we would begin with a tip on painting portraits or adding them to a painting. For instance a rider on a horse or child with an animal. When you paint a person the planes on the face that contain the eyes nose, mouth and chin are always parallel to each other. I have used my portrait of Eric to demonstrate.

Eric DiagramAs you can see from the diagram, all his features are parallel.  The angle of his eyes, nose and the tilt of his chin. This is particularly useful if the head is tilted or turned. if your drawing doesn’t look right check the planes.

This painting is done on Le Carte Pastel card as opposed to my usual surface of velour. I will go into the painting details in a later post. I must say that it is far easier to correct mistakes on this paper. But dont get it wet ! A drop of water will eat a hole in the surface that is almost impossible to repair! This works very well with pastel pencils. You can add details with softer pastels as well.

Happy Painting!