|'Limitless' 9x12 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
1. Make sure you invest in a few GOOD ARTIST QUALITY PASTELS. Buy the best you can afford
even just to 'try them out' and I'll explain why.
2. Use good pastel paper. Sanded papers are good but there are unsanded papers that work well with
GOOD pastels. Avoid using regular smooth sketchbook paper.
3. Practice your touch and apply the pastel with a LIGHT TOUCH. You can always press harder
when needed but work at developing the sensitivity of a light touch....it is the key to successful
These three tips are just the tip of the iceberg that is the wonderful world of pastels but it is a start. Read on as I explain the reasons for suggestion #1.
|YOU DON'T NEED ALL OF THESE PASTELS!|
You need good pastels but you don't need thousands of them! You will want them once you get hooked but to get started you can do just fine with a set of 60-100 pastels. I painted today's wildflower landscape with a set of 60 Terry Ludwig pastels (Richard McKinley collection) All you need is a good range of values from a few rich darks to a beautiful colorful lights along with a variety of intense colors and muted grayed colors. This set has all of those things. There are several artist quality soft pastel sets that come in half-sticks. These sets are a good value and will give you a good start. I like Sennelier, Unison and Great American half sticks. Visit Dakota Pastels for a closer look.
|Terry Ludwig set of 60 soft pastels....Ricjard McKinley collection|
The most important thing is that you start with an artist quality set of soft pastels. If you have ever tried to drive an old car on it's last legs with manual everything then you know it will get you to your destination....but it will not be fun and it may be a struggle. Compare that to driving any luxury car with brand new everything.....it is a much better ride and you get to your destination faster and in comfort.
Pastels are the same. Cheap ones on cheap paper will allow you to paint but it may not be as easy or you may not like the results. The good pastels and paper are like a luxury car....you have a much better chance of enjoying the ride and getting good results!
BUT I DON'T KNOW IF I'LL LIKE PASTELS!
I know. Nobody wants to spend money on supplies until they know they will use them and like them. So it is only natural to want to go to the local hobby store and buy a cheap box of pastels....just to try them out. The problem is these cheap pastels are like old cars....hard to make them work well.
- An issue with the cheap pastels is that they tend to be on the hard side with more binder than pigment. It is hard to get wonderful fresh and juicy marks with them.
- The cheap sets have another drawback. They tend to consist of challenging colors....often they are mostly bright intense colors with no rich darks or lights only a black and white. Think crayon box colors. Paintings done with these colors and no neutrals will often look artificial...the greens are especially troublesome in the cheap sets.
Often artists will get a cheap set and struggle and decide they don't like pastels or they aren't a good fit for them. (I hear this a lot!) It usually isn't the artist but instead it is the pastels and papers they are using.
So the most important bit of advice I can offer to to treat yourself to the best quality pastels you can afford. If for some reason you don't like them you can always sell them on eBay!
You cannot go wrong with any set of pastels from Terry Ludwig. His pastels are handmade and come in the most wonderful range of colors and values. They are soft without being crumbly. The square shape allows for a wide variety of marks. Visit the website and have a look at the sets. They are all good. Choose the set that fits the subject matter you like to paint. www.terryludwig.com
Tomorrow I will talk about suggestion #2....Paper!
|Beginning a painting with a quick drawing|
|The block-in....putting in the darks, lights and most intense colors|
|Close-up....Terry Ludwig pastels allow for a variety of marks|
You have come to the right place for pastel and general painting tips. My blog is filled with several years of daily posts about painting and pastels. Just use the search box or browse the archives. located on the sidebar.
I also have pastel demos in PDF format available in my Etsy shop here.