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Sunday, November 17, 2019

How Did You Get Started with Pastels?

Revisiting pumpkins in 2013. Time for an update!

 It all began with a pumpkin....and an old box of Grumbacher pastels. It was in 2005 when I picked up my first pastel. It was at a one day pastel workshop at the community art center. I had decided that I wanted to take art classes. I had not done any painting since my dabbling during high school. I started with a watercolor class which was a disaster. Not one to give up easily I signed up for a one day pastel workshop.

I arrived with my little box of pastels from a high school class,  excited to try them. The teacher was a sweet woman who didn't teach us a thing about pastels. She had some gourds and pumpkins set up and basically all we did was paint them all day.  I was in heaven.

My very first pastel painting done in 2005

Here is my painting from that workshop and yes it took me hours!  And yes there are many 'issues'.  But I knew as soon as the pastel touched the paper that I was hooked. I wanted to learn how to use those pastels. And I wanted more of them. Lots more. I went home after the workshop and immediately googled pastel teachers in Atlanta. The first name that popped up was Marsha Savage. I got up my nerve to inquire about classes and as luck would have it the next session was about to begin.

I went to the class and the rest is history!  Pastel was definitely the right fit for me and Marsha was the perfect first teacher. She made class fun as well as taught us how to get the pastels to do what we wanted. I am still learning but now it is my privilege to pass on what I do know with other aspiring pastelists.  I'm glad I somehow managed to save my first pastel painting. It reminds me that practice does indeed help! (It is also time for a new pumpkin painting since the one in this post is from 2013!)

Today's painting is the demo I did for my pastel class in 2013. I set up some pumpkins for us to paint. Hopefully they too were  inspired to continue painting!

How did you first discover pastel? Share your story with us in the comments!


Louise Dubois said...

In 2013 I started in pastels from not doing anything in art. I was at our winter RV home in Florida and an artist also staying there had offered to give a 3 hr workshop every week free. I had no intention of going but my friend urged me to come with her. I was delighted when he introduced us to pastels (about 35 yrs earlier I used to watch an artist in a mall do pastel portraits and I was fascinated). After a few practice sessions he said to bring in a photo to base a painting on. Our beloved Aussie had passed away 6 months prior and I was still devastated so I brought in a photo of him. As I worked on my painting I became hooked. I, like you, still have that painting even though I've since done a much better one. That painting gave me a feeling of such comfort of having a little piece of him back that I wanted to get good enough to do pet portraits and give that same feeling of comfort to others who had lost their pets. Back home I read everything I could about pastels (plus bought lots more). The following year I took a workshop from one of the best animal pastelists in the US (Lesley Harrison). To date, my most meaningful pet portrait (besides my own) brought the owner to tears for several hours. Her dog had passed away 3 years prior and the portrait was a gift from her brother. You know you've hit the mark when you get that kind of response. Thanks for allowing me to tell my story!

Tim Moore said...

I came across an ad for Corel painter program in a magazine. You had to learn to make the brushes in the program do what you wanted. Well I didn't know what I wanted the brushes to do, so I figured I would get real paints, learn how I wanted those to act and transfer that to the computer program. Well as they say the rest is history, I found the Pastels in the store and never went back to the computer program.

Mike Hartley said...

After dabbling off and on since high school with acrylics, I moved to a larger city where I had access to classes. I chose watercolor because it would be the easiest to clean up. Easiest? Yeah, right! I took watercolor classes for five years, them back to acrylics and later, oils. Then, last May, a friend was organizing a pastel workshop for two days nearby and I decided to go. My first workshop didn't produce great results, but I knew that I was hooked from that moment on. I still have so much to learn... but I am enjoying the process. Pastels are SO forgiving! No paint thinners and such to deal with. Just pure pigment going onto paper. I still work with my oils at times, and I find the principles of both media to be similar in many ways. Loving this new medium!

Anne said...

2016: a friend took me to an art museum where I was bewitched by some of the art. I began dabbling in pencil, then to colored pencil. This friend then told me about you, Karen, and I looked up your webpages. I was hooked! You continue to be my mentor and guiding star and probably the cause of me now owning about 3000 pastel sticks! This same friend even purchased one of your lovely art works for my birthday a couple of years ago and it hangs proudly over my fireplace. Can't ever thank you enough for sharing your wonderful gift with others and inspiring us to keep trying.