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Friday, August 26, 2016

What Should You Do With a New Box of Pastels?

'Happiness is a Field of Daisies'          8x10        ©Karen Margulis
available $125
The box arrives and everything else is put on hold. The new pastels are here. The moment you've been waiting for. The box is opened and you catch your breath. It is like that with a new box of pastels. You don't want to touch them. They look so wonderful that you just want to set them out and admire them awhile.  I've done that. But I have some better advice for breaking in a new box of pastels.

USE THEM! Get them dirty. Take off wrappers if they have them. Don't wait to paint. Get to know them so that they become new friends. If you have a bigger pastel box you will ultimately want to put your new set in with your other pastels but before you do that you need to get to know them. Here is what I do with a new box of pastels....

Richard McKinley's 60 piece selection of Terry Ludwig pastels

The first thing I do is take a picture of the pastels in their pristine condition....just for fun. Then I make a little color swatch of each pastel. Terry Ludwig makes it easy with his pastels. He supplies a blank pastel record sheet with every box of pastels.

Taking the time to make the color swatches helps in two ways.
  •  First it is a great record of the colors if you ever need to order them open stock. I like to laminate my sheet or place it in a plastic sheet protector. 
  • Second, it helps to see the color each pastel makes. Some pastels look different on paper. Making the swatches helps you see your colors and values more acurately.

The next thing I do with a new box of pastels is challenge myself to paint ONLY with the pastels in the new set. No matter what kind of set it is. Even if it a set of lights or darks. I do this so I can get to know each and every stick. All too often I am guilty of using only my favorite colors in a set. By forcing myself to use all of the pastels in a set I may discover colors I like that I might have overlooked.

Today I broke in a new set of Terry Ludwig pastels. I selected the Richard McKinley landscape set with the intention of using it for my plein air box. It appears to have everything I need but I need to test it by painting several paintings with just this set. That will be a fun job!

 My first painting with the new set. I love it so far!! More to come! 

What do you do with a new box of pastels?


robertsloan2art said...

That is SO cool! Love the set - your photos of it made it a lot clearer what colors are included and how many great tints and darks! V100 is wonderful, you have that "richer than black" hue for darkest accent. Love the painting.

VERY cool way to break in a new set. Charting on paper really helps too. I used to have a binder with all my pastels charted but it's still in deep storage, can't use that again till the cottage is built.

Patty Lynn said...

Hi Karen,
Well you definitely know what to do with your new pastels. I'm totally in enthralled with your body of work... It's beautiful! I couldn't believe it when I came across your post on your new Terry Ludwig pastels, because I've been stressed out for two weeks on trying to decide what set to start with.Their expensive,so I have to make a good first choice- Do you buy from Terry's site or another??
Id love to attend one of your workshops in the future. I watch your videos on YouTube and you just have a gift to teach. Not everyone has that.
Blessings to you Karen!