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Friday, September 06, 2013

How to Overcome the Fear of a New Box of Pastels

'Mornings are Best'           6x8           pastel           ©Karen Margulis
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It was so hard to do.  I almost couldn't go through with it. But I took a deep breath and went to work. It will be well worth getting past my fear.  Fear of what?  Fear of taking the pristine new pastels out of their original box. Fear of not being able to keep track of the color name or number.  

I always recommend that my students consolidate their pastels into one box. It is very difficult to paint when you have to hunt and peck through several boxes for the right color or value. But it is just as difficult to break up a beautiful new set of pastels.  You know if you do it it will be a good thing but it is taking first step that is so hard.  I have an idea for you.

Consolidate your new box of pastels in baby steps! 

 Here is what I did with this brand new beautiful set of Terry Ludwig pastels, Stan Sperlak 90 piece selection. (heavenly!)



Instead of breaking up a set immediately, transfer them first into a more usable box.  I find it easier to work out of a box where the pastels are loose and not nestled in foam. The foam slows me down.  I do like to initially keep special sets separate from my big box. So I collect cigar boxes to use for these sets.

I line the box with poly foam cut to fit in the box and the lid.  Depending on the size of the box I will choose foam that will allow me to close the box and keep the pastels firmly in place so they will not move around.  I sometimes replace the latch with a stronger one. My 90 piece set fit perfectly into the 10x12 box which will be great to take to Stan's workshop later this month.

cigar box, foam and latch before version
After lining the box with foam I was ready to transfer the pastels. I didn't glue in the foam so that I can remove it to wash if I ever wanted to.  As I transferred the pastels to the new box I marked the color on the handy chart that Terry provides with his pastels.  If you have a set that doesn't have a chart it would be good to make your own.  I have never consulted a chart to reorder a pastel but it makes me feel better to do it. You know, just in case!

the new box with the completed color chart
 What I discovered though that doing the color chart allowed me to try out each color. It was a good opportunity to get to know the colors in the set. A nice bonus!

All 90 pastels in their new home
After I finished the pastel transfer I rewarded myself with painting using the new set.  I am so glad I took the time to do this transfer. It wasn't so hard once I jumped in and got started. Now I can easily take this box with me to workshops. The next step will be to put these pastels into my big box. I find that after I use them separately for awhile they become less precious and I don't feel so hesitant to consolidate them into the big studio box.  Baby steps!

Today's painting done with the Stan Sperlak 90 piece set and Uart paper.

8 comments:

juli koroly said...


I completely understand, I got my first box of Terry Ludwig pastels last month and spent the first week afraid to touch them. I love them!!! Your blog on a "mile of canvas" really inspired me. I am beginning my journey with 2,5x3.5 samples of a variety of papers. I just got my first Wallis paper and this with the Terry Ludwig's make the journey great fun...I am learning so much...

msboo42@sbcglobal.net

Dan Gray said...

I so love your ideas Karen! The few Terry Ludwigs I have I keep in a separate old cigar box my mom gave me..just too special to be in with the others..lol

Jo Castillo said...

Baby steps made me smile. Nice article and advice.

pattisjarrett said...

You are so brave! Appreciate the helpful advice.

Cheri Halsema said...

Wonderful blog Karen...so very helpful.

I'm now shopping Ebay for a large cigar box - about your size - but the large ones are hard to find!

I really appreciate how you share your information so generously.
Thanks again!

Elizabeth parsons said...

This is so timely for me! I just bought a box of 80 Sennelier 1/2 sticks and I found myself unable to move them to my bigger box.

I just open the box and stare at them. Now I will find a cigar box and start with your idea of easing into the transfer. Thanks so much!

Patricia Gray said...

I would like to ask you what size is this cigar box?

Karen said...

Paticia, when I get to the studio I will measure but I am estimating it is close to 12x12 because I only cut the foam down a little bit.