|'Amber Waves' 7x11 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
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I like to keep things simple. My pastels may look messy and unorganized but I do have a system. Yesterday I did a quick demo on Periscope. (thanks to the great response! I'll try to do a new scope everyday so follow me @karenmargulis) I got a great question from a reader that has prompted today's post. She asked for a tour of my palette....my favorite pastels, why I chose what I chose, etc. Thanks Charlotte for the question!
To answer the question I used the same palette from yesterday's painting on today's painting. This is always a good exercise to see how well a palette works. I like this palette. How did I choose the pastels for these paintings?
It begins with my big box. This is my studio box. It used to be organized by color and value. It never looked as good as Richard McKinley's box but it was neater than it is now! It really doesn't matter though because the pastels in this box are in a holding pen. I choose new and limited palette from this box for every painting. I never work out of this box directly.
|My big box of pastels|
|My palette after the painting is finished...not so organized!|
When I first choose the palette for a new painting I arrange them neatly in a butcher tray. I choose them by value and color NOT by brand. If the color and value are correct I don't really have a preference to the brand. Keep in mind I only use my favorite brands...Terry Ludwig, Unison, great American, Girault, Diane Townsend, Sennelier, Mount Vision.
I arrange the pastels in the try by section. Each element of the painting has it's own section....sky colors, cloud colors, grass colors, dirt colors etc. As I use them in the painting I don't keep them organized. I tend to get in the zone and organization goes out the window! I often will make myself use the same palette for another painting. I keep them messy as a challenge!
Below I took the pastels I used and organized them by brand so you can get a better idea of what I used. Here are a few general observations:
- Terry Ludwig pastels make up the majority. They are my favorite and I could paint only with them if I had to. They start out square but take on new shapes as they are worn down.
- I tend to use Diane Townsend soft form pastels for the lights...I love them for clouds.
- I don't have many Unison pastels but I do enjoy them. I like the hard edge I can get with the rounded top edge. I used them for grasses.
- I like the creaminess of Great American pastels. I chose these for the color and value though and not the feel.
- A couple of Giraults made it into this palette. I usually have these in my plein air box.
- I used a few NuPastels in this painting. I did the initial drawing with the blue pastel and used the others for the linear grass marks.
- Mystery pastels....sometimes they get so worn down that I can no longer be sure of the brand. I don't stress though. If it is a well loved color/value I do my best to find something close. I don't worry about color numbers or even brands.
So that is a quick tour of the palette I used for two paintings. I will now put these pastels back into the big box and start fresh for the next painting.