View Full Version : Finding Your Style In Pastel

SAS Designs
09-03-2014, 03:14 PM
I'm intrigued by the title of Jean Hirons book. Very few pages shown on Amazon, I know it's self published. Wondering if anyone has read it, what you think of it? It sells on Amazon for $47.

Also, has anyone read the new Margaret Evans book on Pastels? I'm looking for something more than the "basics" - have several of those books. Thanks.

09-03-2014, 03:30 PM
It does sound like an interesting book. Margaret Evans tends to do beginner to intermediate books as far as I know, but I love her videos and instruction.

I think past the basics you get into things more specific than "advanced techniques" in general. I have the 50 fixes for problems book I got secondhand from Deborah Secor, which is more advanced than a basics book and specifically on the subject of making changes that improve a painting rather than how to do one. The more advanced ones will often include the basics and then head into their specialty whether it's a subject or a technique or method.

Capturing Radiant Light & Color in Oils and Soft Pastels struck me as pretty advanced and went specifically into the Colourist method in both mediums, which made sense since it was developed in both mediums. Techniques are different but the general method is the same.

A title about finding your style sounds interesting because there are so many directions to take pastels from loose sketching and light application to heavy painterly impressionism to hyper detailed realism and types of pastels, types of methods like Degas' methods and so on.

I think past "intermediate" it radiates into specifics, not that there's anything beyond basics that goes across all styles. There's so much to discuss in something like "painting the figure in pastels" or "horses" or "landscape painting" and sometimes I find information in books about painting that aren't as specifically about medium. Or are in another medium but the bulk of the book applies well to pastels too, like Carlson's Landscape Guide.

I bought James Gurney's Imaginative Realism and his Color and Light for Painters, both of which are very useful in rendering accurately and in making things I made up or remember plausible and beautiful. That mattered a lot to me and everything translated well to pastels.

09-03-2014, 05:21 PM
I don't think finding a style can be achieved by reading a book, frankly.

Finding your style is about DOING, the fact of painting regularly, and slowly your "style" will develop in its own time and in its own way. You may be shown other people's styles in a book, but I do not think that helps to find one's own style. By all means, pick up ideas about how to use your pastels, and then learn all you can about the bricks and mortar of creating a painting, and then look hard at what others artists do and why....and thro that learning, you will find out what pleases you and how to achieve it. Your "style" will evolve naturally.

SAS Designs
09-03-2014, 05:31 PM
Thanks, Robert.
Margaret Evans has a new book, Pastels Unleashed, which looks interesting.
Also looking forwarf to Katherine Tyrells ( sp?) book expected soon.
I have the Capturing Radiant Light, and that's intriguing. Find it easier to follow the guidance of Charlie in her thread on that method.

09-03-2014, 08:21 PM
Jackie is so right about style - your personal style emerges like having handwriting, from painting. What I'd expect out of the "Style" book though would be a good ramble through the many distinct types of pastel painting and techniques out there, from abstractions and mixed media through various methods and types of impressionism and realism. A sort of range thing and some introductions to those well known schools and styles.

Jackie, I agree 100% about style. I found out I had a very weird personal definition of "easy" that involves literally how my physical space is arranged, what fits in my pockets when I'm out and what takes the least cleanup after painting because all of my energy is expended in painting.

Suzy, that title is intriguing in itself. Pastels Unleashed sounds like it might not be another beginner book but one about loose techniques and experimental techniques, advanced tricks of texture and surface. I love her work anyway and between Arnold Lowrey and Margaret Evans, I came back to my first favorite paper, the Mi-Tientes as often as sanded papers. Love the Capturing Radiant Light & Color book and miss it, may have to get it on the Kindle if I don't start getting books boxes sent. I enjoyed it more because I bought it during Charlie's class the first time. Recently I reread the entire class thread to catch up to speed and realized how much I've internalized all of it even when I don't slow down to the full method.

I still think of colors that way, will look at a brown stick and think "muted red-orange shade" instead of as brown. Or "very muted blue-green" for a gray. It has to be pure neutral gray for me to read it as gray.

09-03-2014, 08:55 PM
Jean is well beyond the basics. I've had her in a workshop and she's been helpful when I was starting PSV. She is incredibly meticulous. I have not seen her book, but I have seen her demo and seen other examples of her work and know she is all about quality. She self published in order to get better quality for printing; it is expensive b/c she refused to cut any corners. Expect more, not less.

PS - the workshop we put on with Jean had homework to accomplish in advance; the materials and principles were very good.

09-03-2014, 09:01 PM
May I jump in and "second" the idea that styles evolves naturally from doing. Yes, we try different techniques or points of view from other artists we admire, but it always comes down to what is a good fit for you. "Finding your style" is not a final goal, like completing an assignment for a grade. How we paint will continually change as we internalize some things and get rid of others. What works now might not fit us so well in another 6 months or a year or longer. Pick up what suggestions, ideas and techniques you can. In other words just keep learning and doing.

09-04-2014, 02:52 AM
I'm intrigued by the title of Jean Hirons book. Very few pages shown on Amazon, I know it's self published. Wondering if anyone has read it, what you think of it? It sells on Amazon for $47.
I would not pay $47, but if you are interested, it sells as an ebook here for $3.99:


I do agree with everything Jackie said, though, and would say the title is a bit overambitious, to say the least. I bought it, not because I though it would help me find a style, but because the price was so low. In my opinion, it is just a nicely written and illustrated general pastel book, no more and no less. At 199 pages, it's a bit longer than most pastel instruction books I have seen and does cover a lot of information. However, I don't think there is much (if anything) there that you couldn't learn reading this very forum.

I am still a beginner myself, having started with panpastels a year ago in November and sticks a few months after that, but my favorite books so far have been Sarback's Capturing Radiant Light and Color in Soft Pastels, Painting the Impressionist Landscape, by Lois Griffel, and Painting Brilliant Skies and Water in Soft Pastel by Liz Haywood-Sullivan.

Even so, for the price of a cup of coffee, you don't have much to lose getting the Hirons ebook.

09-04-2014, 11:03 AM
Saskia, thanks for the information! I might be interested in the ebook, if only because a good long pastel book would be fun and it's probably a potpourri of different methods and techniques and styles. I already have a strong style but I enjoy reading about pastels.

It's interesting to reflect on as a topic. I think if I wrote anything on it that'd be more like "Recognizing your style." It does grow and change, because people do. I used to go all hyper detailed and stiff but loosened up, big change - but my color preferences (saturated) and subject preferences and lines still connect with those older works.

09-04-2014, 12:36 PM
Thanks Saskia for the link. I just ordered the book and can't wait to get to reading it. This forum is great!

SAS Designs
09-04-2014, 01:01 PM
Thanks Saskia.
I like to read books like this for INSPIRATION, more than "formula" or "style" as posters are speaking of it.

09-05-2014, 01:30 PM
I am really enjoying Jean's book especially the chapter on underpaintings. I have never read about the different surfaces on the market and how to choose the appropriate surface and type of underpainting. The exercises really encourage experimenting.

I did the ebook download and as Saskia said for the price of a coffee you can get this book. Well worth the price. The one problem is I find the font under the images difficult to read. I like the book so much that I would like to buy a hard copy but a couple of reviews on Amazon said the print copy has blurring issues as well. Can someone who has seen the hard copy please give me your opinion?

While I can live with some blurr at $4, I would be disappointed if I had spent $47.

09-06-2014, 11:58 AM
Note that Jean is offering one of the many tempting one-day workshops on the last day of IAPS. Choices, choices. . . .

Best, Evelyn

09-06-2014, 12:55 PM
Thanks for the heads up Evelyn, I am going for sure!

09-06-2014, 02:08 PM
I'm so glad that link was helpful. Julie, I noticed that blur as well. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think usually when ebooks are distributed by the publisher, as is the case with this one, the ebook is made from the same templates as the print version of the book. So they unless there is an error in processing, (which this does not seem to be, since the blurring only occurs in the captions), both versions should look the exactly the same. It's too bad they didn't notice that blur before they sent it to print.

Robert, I think that would be a wonderful title and angle for a book. It would be great if the author could even demonstrate it by showing how their own work has changed over the years, and discuss how these changes occurred. That is a book I would buy.

09-06-2014, 11:29 PM
Oh wow. I'd have to round up some of my older sketchbooks to put it together and maybe, hopefully find a packet with some of my youth art. I used to have pieces I did in grade school and even high school, then stuff from New Orleans and other times.

What I do now is so different I can almost not recognize it - but some things remained even from childhood. I first learned drawing from my dad, who was a scientist and did technical drawing in pen. I still draw animals the same way I learned to draw my pet white rat, only now it's usually cats because I love them and got one as soon as I was adult and independent.

Thanks for suggesting that. I think I'd want more examples than just mine though, to talk to some other artists I've seen go through many personal stages and changes. Things that I loved and couldn't do when I was young are in reach now, but techniques I used to use well have become physically inconvenient or impossible by encroaching disabilities. My eyesight changed my style. As a kid I did 6x0 Rapidograph drawing and honestly believed postage stamp designers worked that size for their engravings. Now I think nothing of a line the thickness of a pastel stick or turning it on its side for a swift scumbled stroke. One stroke covering the entire area of something I'd have spent four hours drawing.

09-14-2014, 04:00 PM
Robert wrote: I have the 50 fixes for problems book I got secondhand from Deborah Secor, ..

May I have that specific title so I can find it as well?


09-14-2014, 06:36 PM
The Pastel Painter's Solution Book by David Cuthbert. Subtitle: 50 pastel painting problems and how to solve them. It's really interesting, very advanced and cool.