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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How to Choose Pastels for a Plein Air Trip

'Visiting Honfleur'               8x10            pastel               ©Karen Margulis
available here $125
I am in countdown mode. In a little more than a month I will be in France. I will be a guest instructor with Stan Sperlak and the Painter's Passport group. We will be visiting Paris and then spending a week in Normandy. I have a lot of preparations to make since I will be teaching at IAPS in New Mexico before France. I will also be staying on in Europe to visit a friend in Sweden and to teach a workshop in Finland.  A lot to prepare but I am taking it one day at a time.

Today I am organizing my pastels for France. I want to travel light so I have pared down my supplies. Everything needs to fit in my carry-on backpack. I am bringing my Heilman double sketchbox for my pastels. I don't usually change the pastels in the box. It is a good assortment that will work for most landscapes. I try to have 3 values of each color on the color wheel. If I have a range of values I can make a painting work. I may not have the exact color but I can find a value that will work.  I use smaller pieces of pastel and an assortment of Girault pastels so I can fit more in the box.

My box is filled with Giraults and some Terry Ludwig pastels

Once I have the general assortment I decide if I need to supplement with colors specific to the area where I will be painting. I have a tip that I like to use.  GOOGLE STREET VIEW.
I google the painting location and look at the street view map. I basically take a tour of the area looking at general colors....are there a lot of trees? Buildings? What colors are prevalent? I take a few screen shots and do a few quick studies. This allows me to evaluate my color selection. (be sure to take into consideration the season of the street view photos. They won't be as helpful if they are winter photos and you will be going in summer!)

The beach in Honfleur France from Google Street view map

 I also study the work of the artists who painted in the area where I will visit. Today I found a book on Eugene Boudin at the thrift store. It is timely because Boudin painted in and around Honfleur which is near where we will be visiting. It is interesting to see how Boudin interpreted the area.

A timely thrift store find on Eugene Boudin




2 comments:

Anonymous said...


Thanks for posting your box. Doesn't seem like you have a ton of green, the color I always struggle with. Also is that a metallic gold one sitting on the left?

robertsloan2art said...

Loved seeing your plein air palette and great tips for packing. It looks like your Double Sketchbook holds a lot! Great combination with the firm Giraults and soft Ludwigs!