View Full Version : Soft pastels project: Aug & Sep.

08-01-2010, 09:10 AM

Time to get dusty.

So take out the soft pastels and chalks for this monthís project.


Use your soft pastels to

do a self portrait from mirror or photo,
copy an old masterís self portrait- the original work does not need to have been done in pastel, you could copy an oil painting but use pastels to do it,
copy any work by one of your favourite artists (copyright/deceased before 1940),
do some sketches from around your house or garden in soft pastels,
do a piece from imagination.
Create the artwork in any style you prefer: expressionist, classical, impressionist. contemporary, etc.

Let us know how your achieved your effects, and what you learned by doing it:- any pitfalls, any triumphs, etc.

Please note: donít post oil pastel or water soluble crayon work here. Weíll have another project for those media later on.

Feel free to post any interesting links to soft pastel techniques or pastel art works on the net.

08-01-2010, 09:12 AM
Jean Perreal, French artist, is credited with inventing soft pastels at the end of the 15th century.

Before this chalks were used in a pastel fashion to create coloured drawings. A 3-colour method was often used for studies for paintings, e.g., by Leonardo da Vinci. These included, black, red (sanguine) and white chalks on toned (perhaps grey paper). Some beautiful figure studies have been done in this technique. You may want to try this technique.

Some artists in pastels

Rosalba Carriera
De la Tour
I'll post images when the site is up and running again!!

Looking forward to seeing your works.

08-02-2010, 08:37 AM
This will be my first shot at soft pastels. Some time ago my then neighbor found three boxes of pastels, (two soft, one oil) in the garbage can at his work, and thought of me. Yureka! I now have these very large boxes of nearly new pastels. (Who would throw them out???)

The funny thing is that I've never used them...so now is my chance. :clap:

Looking forward to this thread.

08-02-2010, 10:25 AM
That's a lucky windfall Trafford. I hope you like using the softies.

I love their effects but not terribly keen on the dust...luckily I find I can use a face mask that decorators/housepainters use to keep me from breathing in the particles. It also helps to coat your fingers with petroleum jelly and then wipe the excess off before you use the pastels ...as this helps when it come time to wash off the colour from your hands. I know people use wetwipes as hand cleaners...must try that!:wave:

08-02-2010, 10:39 AM
Some images using pastels/chalks from art history.

08-02-2010, 10:41 AM
The first is by Bassano, using the 3 colour approach to drawing with chalks.

The second is by Rosalba Carriera, female pastelist.

Then an Odilon Redon image -one of his preferred motifs of a young girl and flowers in pastels.

Finally one by Mary Cassat of a woman with a fan in gouche and pastel.


08-03-2010, 07:38 AM
I haven't had my pastels out in AGES. I did some pastel work a couple of years ago, but wasn't keen on all that dust - myself and my room just got so dirty. (I tried switching to oil pastel, but just couldn't find a way to get them to work for me). But I would like to do some pastel work again, so this seems like a good place to reaquaint myself. The works you've posted are so beautiful, I'm particularly taken by the Cassat. I like the artist Odillon Redon too, and Chardin has to be one of my all time favourite artists - so I'm going to be spoilt for choice here. And it would be interesting to translate a non pastel painting into pastel too. You've certainly given us a lot of options here. :clap:

08-03-2010, 10:54 AM
June, I'm game for it.

Xina, so good to hear that you would be taking your pastels out. I thought you used to do pastels before. So you focus mostly on oil now?

Janet, what great fortune to have 3 boxes of pastels passed on to you. What brand are they?

I'll work on my self portrait this weekend.

And lovely works you posted for us, June! Thank you.

08-04-2010, 12:03 AM
I haven't done anything with pastels since the last project. I still have that Degas copy hanging up though......I don't know why I avoid them .....this is gonna be a good thing for me. I even bought a pastel starter instruction book back then.

08-04-2010, 12:13 AM
Hi everyone. Welcome on board!!! I love soft pastels and would like to use them more...but like lots of folks, all that dust and dirt puts me off somewhat. I rather like Redon though and may attempt a copy of one of his works. A self portrait sounds good too.

Here are lots of Redon images on wikimedia


Please feel free to post your links.

08-18-2010, 06:34 AM

Here's my quick study of Redon's portrait of the girl with flowers. Its about 11 by 15 ins.

I enjoyed doing this but I started to get fiddley with the face and was in danger of overloading the paper with dust and smudging the features etc. So I stopped. I rather like pastels that are sketchy rather than blended. I didn't blend here.

Now my nose is stuffed full of pastel dust so I won't do any more for a week. I wore a mask too!!!:D

08-20-2010, 08:18 AM
nice one June - lots and lots of color in that one - I hope that girl doesn't have any allergies---aaack! Sounds like doing pastel outside on a windy day would be best????

08-20-2010, 12:20 PM
Yep, I think soft pastels would be better done outdoors!!

08-21-2010, 11:34 AM
Beautiful Redon, June...he is one of my favorite artists also. Reading my pastel book and am almost ready to spring forth. :heart:

08-21-2010, 03:31 PM
June, what kind of paper do you use? If it is sanded surface, you could do it indoors.

I used to do it outdoors too because I don't use so much as a sanded surface but it's so windy at my place my hair gets blown all over.

But it is still a good idea to wear mask and gloves. My family looks at me and think I'm ready to go to surgery. LOL.

These days, I do it quickly and on sanded surface and I didn't wear a mask for this one since it's only a quick sketch. (I try not to breathe hard):lol: But if it's a prolonged piece, I would wear a mask.

I too don't like the blended look. I once did one and the singer who passed away recently looked like a painted face from the Japanese kabuki. But then most of the artists who are commissioned do blend somehow. I haven't got round to doing their type of portraits yet.

Anyway, you have a very lively surrounding there and you gave her a good expression despite your difficulties in the face.

Here's a self portrait as promised.

Girault skin tone soft pastels
Daler Rowney blues
65 lb yellow cardstock primed with clear Colorfix pastel ground 8.5 x 11 inch
30 mins


08-22-2010, 09:33 PM
ohh, Sandra - very nice with the colors- awesome lips!!! and you are a pretty sight too!!!!

08-23-2010, 05:54 AM
I love your bold statement for the self portrait Sandra. It is gorgeous.

08-23-2010, 07:14 AM
You're a pretty neat looking chick Sandra with a little mischievousness thrown in. Nice sketch.:cool:

lovin art
08-23-2010, 04:52 PM
Hi Girls, hope its ok me posting this in here I did the first one out of head alittle while ago and the Birth of Venus this year, both soft pastels.......found these really lovely hand rolled russian pastels they are so nice to work with ....

Sandra, your selfportrait is to die for, well done!! I agree you look divine...:thumbsup: :clap:

Lovely work June, love the Redon's one you did,:thumbsup: :clap: I couldnt see the first is wasnt there for some reason , this site is playing up..........

heres my attemps so far in pastels...


08-23-2010, 10:58 PM
Here is assignment one (I plan to do all of the suggestions just because pastels are so damned hard for me to get a handle on and it bugs me, lol.) And, yeah, I really do look slack-jawed like that, especially when painting. Had to do a reflection from a reflection in order to see myself painting. hahahaha....great fun, that!


lovin art
08-24-2010, 07:29 PM
Wow, cool looking portrait you did ddp,m love the colours in this, very kinda out there but they work well....:thumbsup: :D:clap:

08-24-2010, 09:41 PM
Thank you...maybe a bit different, but those are the lights and colors reflecting on me and my hair is almost colorless now (turning "clear" instead of silver or gray..lol)

08-26-2010, 10:50 PM
Suggestion No. 2: Copy a portrait of a favorite artist.

Rembrandt (ahem) After Rembrant. Here is my version well at least a detail of it, of one of his later self-portraits (1659, he died 10 years later).

I think I made him look more like my grandfather than the original does. Biggest lesson is DON'T OVER BLEND. But, I have to learn that everytime I paint. My image is not the greatest. In my original, some of the iris color shows and it is not so blurry. Pastel on Artagain (black). Nupastels and (lol) Rembrandt soft pastels. 8x10 approx.

Original painting detail:

lovin art
08-27-2010, 04:41 AM
Not a bad likeness at all, you have done really well.......nice work!!:thumbsup:

08-27-2010, 07:14 AM
You have brought out the character in his face. I love how you captured that worried expression. And you have that piercing look of the eyes, characteristic of Rembrandt!! Lovely work.

09-03-2010, 12:34 PM
yes, yeS YES !!!! I did one and it was fun. I can tell I was intimidated by it all because this just 7inches on 11 X 14 inch paper. I always draw small when intimidated. There is alot of potential here if it were larger. That is my major objection to pastel - I have trouble getting detail but oooh I do love the thick variegated color blocks. I'd like to do this again and maybe another one to make a cute set for the bathroom:lol:

lovin art
09-03-2010, 07:43 PM
These are just wonderful Robin, will make a nice pair for your bathroom for sure, you caught a lovely vibrant feel to both of them...

09-18-2010, 11:36 AM
Everybody has done such nice work...Here is a quickie to get used to pastels/ She's a little lopsided, but I like the effect.


09-19-2010, 04:49 PM
Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Wow, Sandra, your first piece has such a vibrant looseness to it! I love the contrast of colors. Your second piece doesn't look like pastels at all. It's almost like watercolor. Good rendition.

ddp, you gave him an even more worried look. Good wrinkles between the eyes!

Robin, what a laugh. Your piece definitely should be framed somewhere near the bathroom. I think perhaps your whole house is full of whimsical paintings like these. I'd love to have a tour.

Janet, good clean lines there. Don't change anything. One time, I changed the eyes of an artist I drew in a lopsided way and it totally took the essence of his playfulness away. I like the limited colors that you used.

09-20-2010, 08:23 AM
Hi everyone. Lovely to see new works in soft pastels. I haven't used them much either.

Robin, I love the whimsical crocodilian. I think its an excellent humorous piece!:D

Lovinart, both are lovely pieces from you. The Botticelli is gorgeous.:heart:

DDP, I really like your expression in the self portrait!!;)

Janet, this is a lovely start to using sp. I like your 'underdone' approach. Better than overdoing it as its not an easy medium to erase, I find.:thumbsup:

Not sure if I am up to doing another one...but the sp results are so lively, it would be good to persevere/practice....

09-20-2010, 10:13 AM
Lots of good work going on here!

Here's my attempt. This is from a new life drawing/painting group I went to and for the last half hour I decided to do a portrait of the model. This is about 10x12 inches on murano paper. I used the mid tone of the paper and used a terracota and white pastel.



09-20-2010, 04:28 PM
Ryan, that is really lovely-- the unusual color and great rendering really grabbed me.

Been not doing much drawing/painting as pesky old life keeps getting in the way. So, thanks, all, for inspiring me to get back at it! (i.e., kicking old rear end!)

09-21-2010, 08:26 AM
Very soft and lovely, Ryan.

I've been slogging along also dd...Hope the fall weather will get me going.

From my sketch book...playing with pastels.


You are right about the dust, it gets right up your nose...I finally put on a mask.

lovin art
10-09-2010, 08:22 AM
Lol laughing at Jane's comment about the dust up your Nose !! it sure does ...:D

Thanks Sandra and June , for your wonderful comments on my work , They were both a pleasure to do !!

Love art everyone , very Inspiring !! I always love visiting you ladies you all do such beautiful art !!:clap: :thumbsup: