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Thursday, May 02, 2013

Great Tip for Unfinished Pastel Paintings

'Prairie Gold'     15x20        pastel       ©Karen Margulis
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 Don't ever throw away the boxes!  I am a bit of a pack rat and save every decent box. You just never know when it might be needed!  Today I am talking about the boxes that pastels come in.  They come in all shapes and sizes and some are  more substantial than others but they all are useful. My favorite boxes are Terry Ludwigs, then Unison and then Diane Townsends.

These boxes are perfect for Work In Progress pastel palettes!



What is a work in progress palette you ask?  These are the pastels that you are using on a particular painting. When I am in my studio I use butcher trays lined with a washcloth to hold the pastels I am using for a painting. (to see why I do this read this post on limited palettes)  I have several trays and they usually contain the pastels I am using for several paintings in progress. But when I am doing a demo that I want to finish in the studio how to I keep these pastels separate and protected en route?

The other day one of my resourceful students came up with a brilliant idea.  She was looking for a way to keep the pastels she was using for the painting she was working on in class. She didn't want to put them all away and lose her nice harmonious color palette of pastels. So she decided to use one of her empty Terry Ludwig pastel boxes for her 'work in progress pastels'.  Why is this brilliant?


  • It is a sturdy box lined with foam that will hold up to carting back and forth to classes and home.
  • It has 30 slots for pastels which is a good number of pastels for a working palette. Remember that the best way to a harmonious painting is to work with a limited palette.
  • No more unfinished paintings because you can't find or don't want to hunt for the pastels you used in class.
  • You can even use this same palette of colors for another painting. I find this is a great way to paint a series.

Of course this idea only works if you have empty pastel boxes. I highly recommend putting new pastels into a larger box so they can be organized by color and value. This will give you empty boxes!  It also assumes that you do put aside the pastels you are using as you paint (another thing I recommend) rather than putting them immediately back into your box.

Thanks to Mayra for the tip. I have my Work in Progress Pastel box ready to go!

'Prairie Gold' is the demo I painted for yesterday's class on painting clouds. It is painted on Canson with a mix of Diane Townsend and Terry Ludwig pastels.

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