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Thursday, June 01, 2017

How To Pack Pastels for a Painting Trip in Three Easy Steps

'Desert Dreams'        2.5 x 3.5       pastel        ©Karen Margulis

Make it Work. That is my motto when it comes to downsizing my pastels for plein air. It's Tim Gunn's catchphrase for his fashion designers but it applies nicely to painting.  Once I realized I didn't need every pastel in my box for a plein air trip it literally lifted a huge load off my shoulders. I can take just enough pastels to fit in whatever travel box I am using. If I don't have the "right" pastel I will just have to make it work!

I do have a method I follow when packing for a plein air trip. It helps ensure that I have a good selection of pastels. It's as easy as 1-2-3. Follow along as I pack for my next great adventure...The IAPS Convention in Albuquerque New Mexico!

The Heilman single sketchbox
A close up of my very unorganized palette. I like it this way!

Step 1:  Choose your Box.  I have a backpack size Heilman box which I love. I only bring it to longer workshops and classes. Usually when  I travel with pastels I prefer a smaller set up. I have two 'go to' boxes for plein air. They are the Heilman Sketchbook size boxes. One is a double sided box which has a tripod plate and a hole for the Heilman easel.  The other one is a pochade style box with room for pastels on only one side. I carry this little box in a bible case which has room for a small  paper, backing board and a small portfolio to hold finished paintings.

I am bringing the smaller single sketchbox to IAPS since I am not taking any workshops and I am not sure how much painting time I will have. This box takes up little room yet lets me be prepared to paint if the opportunity presents itself!

making a list and checking it twice...step 2

STEP 2:  Choose Your Pastels. The formula is to have a dark, middle and light value of each color. You don't need a full stick of each. Smaller pieces are fine. I won't paint larger than 5x7 or 8x10 so small pieces of pastels will work.  I make a chart as I go through my pastels and mark off when I find the right color and value. I make sure I have a nice rich dark...My Terry Ludwig eggplant and a beautiful light value cloud pastel. I also consider the painting location and gear my color choices to the subjects I will paint.  This step takes time!

'Desert Dreams 2'      2.5 x 3.5  

STEP 3: Test out Your Selections. Once I have my choices in the box I find a reference for the location I will visit and try a sample painting. I pulled a few of my Arizona and New Mexico photos to try out my color choices. The more quick studies you can do the more you will be able to tweak your choices. So far I am happy with my choices. I did the two paintings in this post with my selection. I will try a few more and then.....if I don't have it I will remind myself to Make it Work!

All packed! Everything I need to paint in a bible case.


robertsloan2art said...

That is elegant! A good rule for color choices. Dark, medium and light on a 12 color wheel where I'd have warm and cool versions of everything, though I would fill out with a few neutrals - maybe once around the color wheel with neutrals too. Same general idea. I like that Heilman single sketchbox, it's very tempting when I have such limited space to paint in and don't like to work large anyway.

Laura Pollak said...

Thanks Karen! Can't wait to see you out there. If you have time to Plein Air let me know! I get in on Sunday nite!