View Full Version : Intimidated

11-10-2015, 03:10 PM
Hi everyone!

So I haven't done pastels in a while now, but I want to get back into it. I've set up my working space and unpacked my pastels from storage. I've found my pastel papers.

Now I look at all of it and realize I don't remember which pastels are which brand and there are so many and I forget what paper works best...

I really do need to just get in there and start using them again.

Any advice on getting mah butt in gear?

11-10-2015, 03:17 PM
Just get in there and start using them again!

Hi Lorene! Thanks for joining us and I'm sorry but I had to repeat your own advice to yourself! I think you will soon remember which papers you used to like best, but you may find some other paper becomes a new favorite! Most folks put all their pastels into one "box" so it really doesn't matter which brand was which!

Just have fun painting and don't worry about remembering what you used to use and do!


11-10-2015, 03:19 PM
when I've been idle for a while, I like to find a subject that jumps out at me. That tends to get me excited to pick up the brush, or pen. And the just dive in and have fun. I tend to be a mood type artist, so I work in cycles. Don't be afraid to jump, it'll serve you well, I swear. Good luck to you and wish you the best.

water girl
11-10-2015, 04:10 PM
Welcome back! Yes, grab a piece of Canson, pull out a NuPastel or pastel pencil and lay down some color. One baby set at a time. If you are looking for quick inspiration, don't forget to check out the Reference Image Library in the Content Area of the site.

11-10-2015, 07:29 PM
The long skinny square cross section ones are probably hard pastels, good for sketching and first layers and smudging in for dry underpainting. The rest will be different softness an texture per brand but fall into groups. Fat square cross section ones might be Terry Ludwig or Great American, most of the round sticks will be medium soft, a few like Schminke or Sennelier super soft. Fluffy fat round ones may be hand rolled Unison, Mount Vision, Gallery Munyo Hand Rolled or Richeson Hand Rolled, anyway those are really good and they all work together.

Test them on a strip of paper, if they are super soft save them for late in the painting as they'll go over anything else. But if used heavily too soon they can fill up the paper tooth. A good third of my pastels are unlabeled and I have to guess at the texture, but can tell category sometimes by shape.

Girault are actually quite firm but act soft, work well at the medium stage but also later on.

I tend to use Hand Rolled after Medium (rembrandt, anything like it), and Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, Great Americans as last layer super softs.

But if you just remember to go lightly with the extra soft ones they can be used in earlier stages too.

Papers - sanded ones are great and allow more layering. Unsanded ones go lightly and consider blending early layers, using strong unblended marks last. Coated paper like PastelMat is fun, colors don't blend till there's enough color on the sticky surface to let them!

If you have pastel pencils they act like hard pastels and are a little easier for lines.

If you have Pan Pastels use those first, remember to dip the sponge every stroke if you want to add color over color without blending. Use sticks over them rather than under them. Those mix like paint, come in round clear cases that look like a lady's makeup case and are applied with special Sofft tools. They work well with all other pastels.

Hope this helps! Try cutting small pieces of your papers and do small single subject paintings like one or two pears or one tree or something to test the papers and your pastels and get back into it. Those can look good framed too! If you repeat the same one with different colors and put up several versions it can look awesome.

11-12-2015, 12:23 AM
Thank you all so much!

Robert, I've printed off your advice and will keep it nearby.

So far still just staring at them. Will hopefully post progress soon.

11-12-2015, 03:02 AM
Try looking at Karen Margulis' blog for ideas. She has some demos on the website, and some for sale in her Etsy shop. I started doing her "minis," as she calls them, and those are great because they really reduce the intimidation factor. They are reasonably quick to do, and you don't worry about wasting pastel,or good paper. I have 9" X 12" sheets, and just cut them down into 4 pieces. For some reason, the small sizes make me do more practice than if I was working on a larger piece, I think because you just feel less pressure about making mistakes. Try it, it's really fun!

11-12-2015, 09:13 AM
I've always considered myself a mood painter and waited for inspiration in order to get started. Yesterday I read a quote from the artist Chuck Close which made me cringe in embarrassment--and grab the pastels.

"Inspiration is for amateurs - the rest of us just show up and get to work."

Ouch! I SO needed that! :lol: But it was the kick in the pants that I needed. I immediately started a painting I had been thinking about but was certain that I would never get right--and it's turning out pretty darn good! The still life setup I chose contains objects which are meaningful to me, which certainly makes the process more engaging. Perhaps you could try doing that yourself, setting up a composition of items that are meaningful to you?

(Another LOL here, because my house is cluttered with junk, er, mementos that I have kept because they are meaningful, so I've no excuse for not having hundreds of paintings of the lot! :lol: )

Another idea is to join us in the monthly Spotlight (or some of the other challenge threads like the WDE). Don not only provides valuable art instruction in the Spotlight but posts beautiful reference photos for use; and working alongside the crowd of supportive artists there provides motivation on days when I can't think of anything to get me into the studio. And keep lots of cheap (but preferably acid free) paper around to work on when you're afraid of messing up a piece of the expensive stuff just practicing. A couple of my best paintings were done on such paper--colored, slick cardstock that, in spite of its surface, took all the layers of pastel that I needed without using fixative. Another tip I've learned that works for me is to start doodling thumbnails. These get me started thinking of ways to arrange elements in a painting as well as to plan values.

Welcome back and good luck! I'm sure you'll get into gear soon!

11-14-2015, 06:33 AM
So far still just staring at them. Will hopefully post progress soon.

Staring at pastels is a huge part of pastel painting process! :lol:

I have got from several small paintings a day to one small painting a month. In my case it's a confidence issue. The supplies I have are so beautiful (and expensive) that I feel I will waste them with my attempts. But I have been having this problem for years and not only with pastels.
A little warning - the longer the pause gets, the harder it is to start. So, grab some paper and start and think not about what a beautiful picture you will have after you finish, but about the great time you will have while painting, no matter whether you'll keep the painting or not. I have fallen into a trap of thinking that the final result is why I paint, which is very wrong (at least in my case). I am very new to painting and I thought that once I got on a certain skill level, all my paintings would be on that same level. I wasn't prepared that I would still be "able" to produce disasters. I hope I am not the only one :angel: but it's strange and difficult to deal with. Surprisingly, painting several pictures that are worth to sell, set me a way back, because now I am intimidated by my own old work that I don't seem to be able to "live up to" again. *facepalm* :D

Don't think too much about it and grab some paper. Happy painting!

11-15-2015, 07:58 AM
LOL Nick, your remark about staring at pastels! They are altogether too beautiful to take out off the box and mess up. :lol: But great advice to stop thinking and just do.

11-20-2015, 02:10 PM
I would really like to stare at your pastels too. Please post a pic of them.

11-20-2015, 03:09 PM
I would really like to stare at your pastels too. Please post a pic of them.

:lol::lol::lol::lol::lol: :D

11-24-2015, 07:37 AM
A good plan is to get hold of a book which offers projects, and get to it. If you have a local library, see if you can find "PASTELS WORKBOOK", I wrote it a while ago, but the examples are still perfectly good to work from.


11-24-2015, 11:57 AM
For Stapeliad and Nick7: When you asked for a picture of pastels to stare at, I immediately remember photos of Donna's studio. I think she said she has 4000 pastels, but that was 7 years ago; how many now??

Go to Post #7 in this link: