Lanzarote is an island that’s famous for bold, vivid colour; but subtlety can also shine here, and the frosted, timeless beauty of pastel shades offers eternal relief and refinement.
Cool, understated and restrained but also deeply attractive and even moving – pastel shades don’t immediately spring to mind when you think of Lanzarote’s deep contrasts and intense colours, but the closer you look, the more subtle the shades you’ll see reflected everywhere.
Pastel colours are named after the crayons that are, basically, solid sticks of powdered pigment. That’s what gives them that cool, subtle frosted look; and that’s why they give a completely different effect from saturated, gaudy colours.
There’s also something a little posh about pastels – they’re restrained and pretty rather than bold and beautiful, more Kate than Megan; and this can work both ways – giving you a brilliantly subtle effect or, on the other hand, symbolising a timid, insipid style.
And never forget that nature is full of pastel shades. Even here on Lanzarote, the scarce spring rains will coax forth some gorgeously delicate pastel shades in the islands grass meadows and hillsides. That’s why flowers and plants are almost essential accessories if you’re decorating with pastels.
Working with Pastels
Before you get to work with those pastel shades, consider the materials you’re using and the neutral shades you’ll be teaming them with.
Wood and plain stone are perfect, and the subtle veining of marble really works with pastel shades for some reason – offering fascinating possibilities for kitchens and bathrooms. Remember also that the softer, less assertive nature of pastel shades allows other elements, such as texture, to shine.
The idea of “pops” – vivid splashes of colour – doesn’t really work with pastels. Don’t forget that pastels are the stars of the show, not the supporting cast – subtle is not the same as neutral. However, if there’s anywhere you might get away with it, it’s Lanzarote.
Pastels are set off brilliantly by softer metallics, but try to keep accompanying colours plain. Busy, artificial patterns will immediately distract from the demure attraction of simple, sweet pastels.
Nestor: The Master Colourist
There’s a strange decadence about pastel colours which takes us back to the earliest half of the twentieth century and the currents of art deco and symbolism. No Canarian artist represents this strand more strongly than Nestor Martín Fernandez De La Torre, the exquisite Gran Canarian colourist who influenced everyone from Dali to Manrique.
Nestor’s paintings are fantastic, dreamlike and strange, but they’re also timelessly beautiful, and his mastery of shade is one of the reasons why.