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Thursday, March 19, 2015

What Can You Do With Your Pastel Bits?

'The Morning Gathering'          12x18            pastel             ©Karen Margulis
 It is an inevitable result of painting. Pastels wear down. They break. We are left with bits and pieces of once favorite colors. My big studio box is filled with these tiny pieces. I can't bear to part with them. But they are really too small to use. Or are they?

Don't throw them out! Bits and Pieces of pastel can be used. We can always crush them and make new pastels. I have not done this but it is on my list of things to try. I use my pastel bits in two ways. I save them for my tiny travel kits.  I also put them in my 'spice jars'.

My collection of pastel spices
Every painting needs some spice. I consider spices the small finishing touches. Those bits of eye candy that help lead the viewer through the painting. Little spots of color that the viewer can savor. Spices can also be small areas of texture from a heavier application of pastel. Little bits and pieces of pastel are the perfect size to make these small spicy marks.

When my pastels get too small to hold comfortably I put them in little containers. I like to use plastic baby food containers. They are small, can stack and allow quick and easy access to the pastels. Any color can be used as spices. It depends on the painting. If you are organized you can keep colors separated. I am not that organized so I tend to have a mix of colors in my spice containers. I choose the spice color by scanning my containers and choosing the color that I think will work.

My color choices are mostly intuitive but if I am not sure of the right spice color I will use a color wheel. See my post on choosing spice colors here.

My big studio box is overdue for a good cleaning. I will take out all of the bits of pastel and replenish my spice jars!

Painting notes: 12x18 on mounted Uart paper which is what created the texture.


Grace Cockburn said...

I've been following, and searching, your blog for a year now, and always learn something. Thank you for your generousity!

robertsloan2art said...

That's a cool way to handle it. I have a few pieces that are small because sticks broke, but so far I've been keeping "small" in the pastel boxes and "crumbs too small to hold" in jars by spectrum color. So that when I can accumulate enough to grind and make new ones from dust, they aren't gray but a mixed blue or pink or whatever. Not so much by value but hue.

That's because I generate a lot of pill bottles and just mark a hue over the prescription label for the spices. The bottles don't have pill powder in, I think the pills are sort of glazed. But when one has enough crumbs and dust in one color to do a stick I'll roll sticks - even if it's a small stick.

I can see the spice boxes hough! I have a feeling when I start getting a lot of worn down ones it'll be all at once across a bunch of brands. I rotate which pastels I use so much that they're not wearing down much.