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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How to Organize Your Pastels for Under $10

'Summer of the Art Spirits'           11x14           pastel        ©Karen Margulis
Available for purchase here $175
You know it is time.  That moment when it takes you longer to set up and put away your pastel boxes than it does to paint.  That moment when you struggle to find the right color even though you know you must have it...somewhere.  One of the best things I ever did for my growth as a pastelist was getting a Heilman box and organizing all of my pastels in one place... one box with sections that allowed me to see all of the colors and values I had at a glance.  Once organized I quickly made progress. It allowed me to paint efficiently without spending time hunting through a pile of open boxes. It also allowed me to see what pastels I was lacking so I spent my money wisely. Read my post here on organizing pastels.

Pastel Boxes can be expensive and while they are definitely worth it, your budget may not allow it.  I have made my own boxes and even used cigar boxes which work. Many artists like to use tackle boxes or plastic containers but these don't really allow you to spread out the pastels the way a pro box does.

Here is a solution for a studio organizer for pastels and it costs less than $10!

Julie Whitehead's $8 Pastel Organizer
My artist friend, Julie Whitehead from Australia shared this wonderful solution for organizing pastels in the studio. Here is her description:

"After reading your blog about sorting pastels into values etc I decided I needed to do this even though I don't have that many ( got some TL's winging their way to me as I write this!)  After buying new pastels there was no way I could afford a Pastel Box so I had to get creative and came up with an old stretched canvas (flipped) with some corrugated paper lining it and then some dividers made from old card stock.  It works great and only cost me $8 ---- now obviously it would be no good for outdoors but until I can save up for a good pastel box it does the job.  I thought maybe it may be of interest to other beginners who follow your blog. Anyway, thank you sooo much for your daily blogs and the inspiration you give me every time I read."

Thank you for sharing Julie!  I love your ingenuity!  It is best used as a studio box but in a pinch you could make a foamcore cover and large rubber bands if you needed to take it to class....just be sure to keep it flat! 
I know my readers are very creative so if you have a homemade box you would like to share send me some pictures and a description and I'll share in an upcoming post!  Email me  if you have a box you'd like to share!

Remember this...The KEY to painting well is to be organized with your supplies and having your pastels arranged so you can easily find the value and color you need (click to tweet)


Lynn DeJong said...

Instead of purchasing expensive studio boxes, I found that cookie sheets lined with foam shelf paper provide the perfect flat surface to hold pastels. I still separate by color and value even though I have no dividers. I have a flat file that holds 4 cookie sheets perfectly. They can be stacked on top of each other by alternating horizontal and vertical position if you need to tack them for storage, or cut foam core a little larger and place that between the cookie sheets. Choose a type of cookie sheet that has a bigger lip on it, especially if you use some of the larger pastels. This worked better for me than making foam core boxes - I'm not that handy!!

Karen said...

Great idea Lynn! Thanks for sharing!

Ellie Mclean said...

Hi Karen:
First of all let me say thank you so so much for all the great info you share. Love all your paintings! I'm an absolute beginner, after reading your blog and website, I'm ready to purchase your demos! I only have a very small set of Rembrants and some hard pastels, and I've put them into a spare watercolour palette (I'll try and attach a photo). Right now they're only in colour families, because what I really struggle with is determining lights, mediums and darks. Any advice would be appreciated!

Susan Williamson said...

Hi Karen,
I really appreciate how much amazingly helpful information that you share. And I love the approach you took with this painting ! It is so full of energy.

Adriana Guidi said...

Thanks Karen-once again a great and informative post! I have a Rembrandt boxed set that a friend gave me years ago.Now they're full of many different brands I like. My boyfriend made wood dividers for it,and I had them divided by color families and cools and warms.I just last week switched everything around where they're separated by values,and it does help quite a bit now! Of course I still have my extra cigar boxes and other little Whitman sampler

Peggy Juneau said...

Good ideas.

avery maples said...

I want so much to arrange my pastel sticks without their wrappers into these wonderful color and value grades. I see it everywhere, and all the pros promise a much more fluid creative process. I DO believe it. I have a few different sets and then several partial sets. Even if it were one set, the thing that holds me back and gives me almost a panic attack is what I perceive to be my inability to know which sticks are which as I begin to get done to a nub. Or even glancing down and SEEING immediately that a trip to the art supply store is needed. Currently, everything is laid out by color, in the wrapper. Frustrating to use but easy to restock....HELP
What system etc. have others used. I truly am baffled. Thank you for any insight.

Karen said...

I don't worry about the exact color name. When I am running low I look for a pastel that is close in value and color. This way I don't always use the same exact colors! It is liberating!!

Ellie Mclean said...

I break the pastels in half and put the wrapper around 1 piece and store it, the other piece goes into my working box. Then, when the working stick is about done, I can just check my stored pastels and find the matching half. Label is on, so I know exactly what to order.

Barbara said...

Thank you so much for sharing such a clever and cost-effective idea! Very helpful to beginners like me. Though I'm afraid to mix up the small number of pastels I have, I do believe the current still-in-original box setup is hampering me. This setup is cheap enough and makes sense so I can see what I have, fill in gaps, and improve my understanding of value. Thanks again!