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Sunday, February 24, 2013

3 Easy Steps to Organized Pastels

'Southern Sanctuary'           18x24        pastel    ©Karen Margulis
You just got a new box of pastels. They are drool worthy. It is enough to just look at them and admire the colors and neatness of the fresh pastels. But they are meant to be used. To help you create even more beautiful things.  What you do with the new box depends on how many pastels you already have. If you are new to the medium I will suggest one way in a post later this week.

If you already have a good size pastel collection what do you do with a new box?  I have two approaches.  
  • If I have purchased new open stock (single) pastels I will always put them in my big studio box. I want them available for painting and I don't want to hunt them down when I need one. If it is a new box of general pastels such as a landscape set or a dark set....I will also integrate these pastels into my big box.
  • If the new set is a special set....such as a set of pastels chosen by a particular artist...I keep this set separate. I may leave them in the original box or may put them into a smaller cigar box and label it.  For example I keep my Richard McKinley and Stan Sperlak sets in their own boxes. I take them out when I feel like challenging my self to use a limited palette.

No matter what option I choose I always take off the wrappers and sometimes break them in half (depends on brand) 
 This is sooooooo hard to do but I have a three step approach.  I will address why I do this in tomorrow's post.

My new set of Diane Townsends 120 pure colors

STEP 1  Admire the new box of pastels. Take a picture. Show your pastels friends. We all like to see pristine pastels!  Leave them out and enjoy them in the box for as long as you need but try to limit it to no more than a week!  It is time to get dusty.

Pastels in the small Dakota Traveler pastel Box
STEP 2  Remove the pastels from their original box.  I find it too difficult to paint efficiently when I have to take pastels in and out of their little foam nests. I also can't organize them as well by color and value which is important for the way I like to paint.   I usually use a cigar box I fit with foam and label the box with the name of the set. But for the DT set I knew I would need a larger box.

I have a small Heilman box that I use for plein air so this time I decided to try Dakota Pastel's small Traveler box. I'll review this in another post.

I arrange the pastels in the Traveler box as best I can by color and value. I have darks at the top and gradually shift to the lightest pastels on the bottom. I have some Terrage pastels that I put in the last section. Looking good but still not finished!

Pastels arranged in box and ready to use!
Step 3   Now the messy part. It is time to remove the wrappers (gasp!)  I will address in detail why I do this in tomorrow's post.  But it is necessary for my painting style.  If the pastels are large such as Mount Visions, I will break them in half or even in thirds. I like the size of the DT pastels the way they are so I never break them. And in this set of 120 only 2 pastels came broken in half! Thank you Blick for the careful packaging!

I am now ready to paint with this set. And as much as I like to admire a nice clean set of pastels, I like to paint with them even more!


pattisjarrett said...

I've been hesitating...or procrastinating, not sure which. Great idea to take a picture of them while they look "brand new" and share. Then I can get down to business. Thanks for the kick to the seat of the pants. :)

Karen said...

Your welcome! It's a great feeling when you get it done!

Beena said...

I finally moved all my pastels to the new large cart I recently purchased, which has many shallow drawers perfect for pastels. It is so great how much easier it is for me to get to some of them now, whereas I had all the different boxes all stacked before on my other cart. The downside? It feels like I don't have as many as I thought I did! (laughing) And I get pastel envy sometimes coming to your blog! Maybe I should go to your house to play (wink)!