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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How I Got Started with Pastels

'Pumpkin Gourmet'              11x14             pastel            ©Karen Margulis
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 It all began with a pumpkin....and an old box of Grumbacher pastels. It was nine years ago when I picked up my first pastel. It was at a one day pastel workshop at the community art center. I had decided that I wanted to take art classes. I had not done any painting since my dabbling during high school. I started with a watercolor class which was a disaster. Not one to give up easily I signed up for a one day pastel workshop.

I arrived with my little box of pastels from a high school class,  excited to try them. The teacher was a sweet woman who didn't teach us a thing about pastels. She had some gourds and pumpkins set up and basically all we did was paint them all day.  I was in heaven.

My first pastel painting November 2004
Here is my painting from that workshop and yes it took me hours!  And yes there are many 'issues'.  But I knew as soon as the pastel touched the paper that I was hooked. I wanted to learn how to use those pastels. And I wanted more of them. Lots more. I went home after the workshop and immediately googled pastel teachers in Atlanta. The first name that popped up was Marsha Savage. I got up my nerve to inquire about classes and as luck would have it the next session was about to begin.

I went to the class and the rest is history!  Pastel was definitely the right fit for me and Marsha was the perfect first teacher. She made class fun as well as taught us how to get the pastels to do what we wanted. I am still learning but now it is my privilege to pass on what I do know with other aspiring pastelists.  I'm glad I somehow managed to save my first pastel paining. It reminds me that practice does indeed help!

Today's painting is the demo I did for my pastel class. I set up some pumpkins for us to paint. Hopefully they too will be inspired to continue painting!

How did you first discover pastel? Share your story with us in the comments!

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great story. Thanks for sharing your passion with us!

Jo P. said...

Beautiful painting. Guess it must be the time of year. I have never painted a pumpkin but the other day as I was driving by the pumpkin patch at a local church I decided I wanted to paint a pumpkin, so stopped and took a bunch of pictures. Haven't started yet, but have the composition ready.

Nancy said...

I, too, have an old box of Grumbacher pastels from high school. This past summer (45 years later) I picked them back up and took a pastel workshop. I'm trying to get my practicing in, and so happy I found your blog. Coming home from work each afternoon and reading your posting is such a treat and an inspiration. I learn something new every day, and feel like I've made a new friend!

Karen said...

Have fun with your pumpkin painting Jo!

Karen said...

Thank you Nancy, It's my pleasure to share!

Peg Maines said...

Love the white pumpkin. My introduction to pastels was somewhat accidental. After retiring I signed up for watercolor classes (a lifelong goal) with dismal results. Decided to take a drawing class, hoping it would help with the watercolors. Class turned out to be charcoal and pastels and I was hooked!

Joni said...

Back in 2005 or 2006 i found an artist on wetcanvas.com who was a pastelist and her work blew me away. I was painting in oils at the time but her work inspired me to try pastels. So i purchased a set of Rembrandt pastels and gave it a shot. i was hooked right away. I never did have the opportunity to take classes but i am very grateful for all the instruction, advise and inspiration I have found on various websites and blogs. A whole new world opened for me once I discovered sanded papers! Although i still work in oils, my primary medium is still pastels! They are magical to me :)

Karen said...

Thanks for sharing Joni! Pastels are truly magical!!

Elizabeth Strootman said...

Viewing the works of Sid Willis at the Heritage gallery in Alexandria, VA in 1990 was my first inspiration to paint with pastel. His richly textured and brilliantly colored pastels were a revelation and the impetus for my change from an atelier training in oils to the medium of pastel. Thank you , Karen, for your generosity and all of your insights. 
Elizabeth Strootman

Karen said...

Peg, I tried watercolor first as well. I'm glad it was a disaster or else I might not have discovered pastel!

Karen said...

Thank you for sharing Elizabeth!

Jo Castillo said...

I had tried pastel in a class years before. A friend talked me into going to the International Association of Pastel Societies Convention in Albuquerque in 1999. I bought a set of Daler-Rowney pastels, some Art Spectrum sanded paper and was hooked! I like that you draw and paint at the same time. Thanks, Karen, for sharing so much information.

Beth said...

Karen - my story is almost the same as yours. I was given a gift certificate to an art store for $75.00. I had only dabbled in pastels in one art class in college (I was a history major, but took a few art classes now and then). I had an old set of NuPastels from 1975 and I used my gift certificate to buy a set of Rembrandts. I wasn't really sure how to use them, so I too Googled a class in the Denver area and ended up taking a one day workshop and from the first stroke I was hooked. Who knew that one could use alcohol to melt the pastels and move them around? I also discovered Terry Ludwig pastels that day - and I now joke that Ludwig pastels are like artist "crack". Love your blog and stories and sharing! Thank you!

Paula Campbell said...

Karen, YOU were my inspiration for trying pastels! I saw your work on Daily Painters and loved it! Then I was so excited to see that you live nearby and I was able to take some classes from you. And your blog is like an ongoing class--thanks for sharing so much info and being so positive about everything art!

pattisjarrett said...

I was taking a free mixed-media workshop with Pam Carriker offered by Strathmore, online. When I put that first pastel to paper, I was hooked and had to have more. Then I found you, and see the full potential of this medium.

Sarah Bachhuber Peroutka said...

I always wanted to be an artist and had taken lots of classes throughout my life, but never believed it could be possible. Then in 2008 when retirement was looming I said, "It's now or never, and instead being a jack of all trades and master of none, I'm going to pick one thing to focus on." I'd always loved Mary Cassatt's work and met an actual pastelist (Joy Descoteaux) at the fair. She agreed to give me some lessons, other lessons from other instructors followed, and here I am today, a real artist! Says who? Me, that's who!

Karen said...

Thank you Paula and Patti!! I am happy to be a part of your pastel journey!

Karen said...

Great story Sarah!! Thanks for sharing!

tim moore said...

i started because i was using Corel painter,digital psinting program.i was frustrated and though if i tried "real" painting,i might be able to figure out what i wanted the digital brushes to do..i went and bought a cheap set of pastels,because they seemed like less work than watercolor or acrylic,oil..i was hooked!..the colors,the feel,was beautiful..i have not gone vack to digital painting,but gave even tried the other mediums since...i am obsessed and have learned so muchmore about art since picking up the sticks..