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Friday, August 02, 2013

Why I Love NuPastels

'Georgia Peach'            5x7         pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available on Daily Paintworks auction bid here
 They were my first pastels. I bought a set of NuPastels on ebay. I was so excited with visions of the wonderful paintings I would make. It didn't really happen that way.  I quickly discovered that the NuPastels weren't enough. They were too hard to get that wonderful buttery texture I so admired in other pastel paintings.  And so my pastel collection began,

And for awhile I would use the NuPastels for under paintings. They were hard so they didn't fill the tooth of the paper quickly. But after awhile the NuPastels were set aside. I had too many other wonderful choices.

But lately they have made a reappearance in my studio. In fact I had to order some new ones!

When did they start coming with wrappers! Now I have to take the wrappers off before I can use them. So why do I love them?  I have discovered that they have their place in my painting techniques and they fit the bill perfectly.  Here are two ways I use them:

  • Underpainitngs. I have been doing a lot of 'Dry Underpaintings'.  I use the NuPastels to block in my big shapes and rub them in with a piece of pipe foam. They give me a clean vibrant block in and they are so inexpensive. The bonus is they don't fill the tooth of my paper. See my recent demo here to see my NuPastel block in.
  • Building up scribbly layers of pastel. This isn't my usual way of working but I attended a workshop on Pastel & Water with Bill Creevy at IAPS.  He uses hard pastels to put in his first layers. The peach was painted using the techniques he shared at the workshop.  (I  brought Holbeins to the workshop and they didn't mix with water...another story) The NuPastels work great and look at the yummy colors!

I need to mention though that testing has shown that some colors especially the reds will fade over time. So for this reason I never use them in the final layers. They are used in the underpainting and then covered by other pastels. If you are concerned you may like Polychromos which have a similar feel.

Next Wednesday's pastel classes in my Marietta studio will focus on the techniques I learned at the workshop. So if you are in the area and want to have fun exploring pastels and water send me an email. I still have a few openings!


Renee Lammers said...

Very nice work. I admire pastels although I would in Oils and Gouache. I went to a pastel convention and was so impressed with how many different pastel sets one must have. Impressive.

Karen said...

Thank you Renee! Pastels are like candy...hard to resist so we tend to collect as many as we can. But I tell my students that they can do just fine with about 200 pastel sticks! i do appreciate having only a few tubes of oil paint though!

Anonymous said...

I have a book by Bill Creevy, it is filled with so many different techniques. I didn't realize how versatile pastels are.

Robert Sloan said...

Great post! Love the painting too. I used to use NuPastels constantly but eventually switched to other brands of hard pastels over lightfastness issues.

I found out at home when my color chart had fade problems in a few months! I had color charts up on the walls for all my pastels at the time, so it was easy to see that they'd faded when I looked up colors on them and compared the chart to the sticks.

Cretacolor Pastels Carre are the ones I use now. They claim lightfastness and haven't given me any problems yet. I haven't had a sunny window to test that though. I love Polychromos but my set is in storage in another state.

Cretacolors do work well with water, that's another effective alternate brand. I tried it recently and liked the results. The only thing I don't like about them is the nasty box the full range set comes in, oversize with a styrofoam slotted tray that's hard to get the sticks out of. I'm thinking of trying to get a better box for them or make one.


Dabney Dwyer said...

Any chance you have a demo on the technique you used with the nupastels?

Karen said...

Hi Dabney, no I don't but it is a great idea for a new demo. Thanks for asking.