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Les Darlow

Les studied Technical and Scientific Illustration – History of Art at the Palatine College of Art, Blackpool in the early 1980’s. After leaving college as a qualified Illustrator, Les took a slight diverted career path, and joined a Rock band and became a pop star for a little while. After realising he was not to become the next Duran Duran, he pursued a job in the Art and Illustration field managing to secure a position Illustrating a series of books called the “Hidden Places Series” which really help him to develop as an artist: “My original paintings at this time in my career were very photo-realistic as my techniques had been formulated by the path I had taken. Often spending hundreds of man hours painting detail with single hair brushes, I found the task enjoyable, though stressful at times.”

One Christmas, Les received some pastels which he had never used before as he believed they were more a childish medium such as a crayon: “I was to be proved very wrong, and after completing my first pastel in less than 30 minutes, I was hooked, literally. I produced an incredible painting, which had many things I had never experienced before. It had three amazing things that I believe are key to making landscapes special, LIGHT, ENERGY and MOVEMENT. I was very lucky, because I was introduced to two very important things in pastel, the PAPER and the PASTEL. Good pastels and good paper are essential, that why I use Canson® Mi-Teintes®, my favourite paper ever.”

His style of painting really changed overnight from photo realistic paintings copied from photographs to a loose and impressionistic style which pastels are perfect for. This new experience led Les into a new chapter in his artistic life concentrating on new elements in his work such as the composition, the light and tonal values: “As an artist, certain things inspire me to create my paintings. I am fascinated by the weather, and this features heavily in my work, whether that is a beautiful sunset in summer, or a blizzard on the top of my favourite mountain. I have a rather unhealthy obsession with extreme weather and snowy conditions. I have been known to leave the comfort of a lovely warm lounge just to experience the blizzard in the mountains. Once I have my inspiration, the painting comes effortlessly, with passion and expression.”

One of Les’s favourite thing is to demonstrate pastels to groups: “I find it very rewarding to be able to show people how good the papers I use are, and how they make such a huge difference to the finished results. I love to paint with my students, as we create wonderful works developing styles of painting.”

Les is an amazing demonstrator and tutor and has been invited to teach in America, Russia, Canada, and throughout the UK and Europe including France and Spain.

If you wish to learn more about him, please visit his website: