View Full Version : Introduction

10-18-2002, 07:02 PM
This is to introduce myself and to ask advice about a strange problem (!) that has been bothering me for some time. I became interested in pastels just over a year ago and have gradually been experimenting on various supports. I tend to work a 3-11pm shift so I often have time in the morning to enjoy this (for me) hobby - not being sufficiently good enough to consider trying to sell a painting, let alone exhibit. I used to do pencil sketching a fair bit in my early 20's, both portrait and landscape. I have never had any art training - formal or otherwise - although have two videos by Margaret Evans which I find quite inspiring and found the book "An Introduction To Pastels" by Michael Wright (ISBN 0-7513-0649-5) very useful to dip into whenever I need to suck my thumb and dream!
My problem is that I seem to almost never be able to finish a painting and my "studio" has several efforts in various stages of completion. I think maybe it is because instead of doing work on a regular basis, no matter how insignificant, I try to complete a more difficult, infrequent subject.
I think this is a fantastic site and one which I hope to be associated with for a long time.


10-18-2002, 07:24 PM
Hi Ward,

Welcome to WetCanvas!

You will find this site and the people here not only inspirational but very knowledgeable about pastels and fun to be with.

Check out some of Jackie Simmonds threads. She, too, is from the UK and you will find her very inspirational as well as being a professional pastel artist.

I find the same problem with stopping a work in progress, just to begin another. I think it is due to the fact that I have limited time to focus on a project to completion. I find the pastel colors fascinating and am at time satisfied, on busy work days, to just pick up a stick and randomly make strokes of color. Nothing in mind to complete, but, it does fulfill a need to create.

Happy painting. We are looking forward to your posts and again welcome.


10-18-2002, 09:03 PM
Hey Ward....welcome to Wet Canvas....and especially the Pastel Forum!! I started using pastels about 4 months or so ago....I've lost track now. However, in the beginning I was very much like you. I would start things only to leave them in an uncompleted state and move on to the next. For me, it was usually because I ran across a stumbling block that I didn't know how to solve, or I had worked on it long enough that I got tired of the subject matter, or that I didn't like the way it was turning out.

Now that I have spent some time working with pastels, trying different techniques, and getting more comfortable with the medium, it's rare that I let anything go unfinished. Yes....I do have many pieces in various states of completion in my studio, but that is more a matter of how I work...moving between things when I feel I need a change. Now, when I run into a problem, it is more of a challenge to me to see if I can work it out, instead of moving away from it and not trying.

For me, it was just a matter of time, and working with the medium to become more comfortable with it. Plus....this forum has so many wonderful people that are willing to give you all the help that you need when you run into a roadblock.

I'm looking forward to seeing your work...in whatever state of completion! :D

10-19-2002, 08:56 PM
Hi Geri and Karen,
Many thanks for your comments which I much appreciated.
It seems that my theory about what I'm doing is correct and that I should concentrate on perhaps more insignificant stuff - messing about/making marks - on a more frequent basis.
I have a partially completed painting of Loch Duich in the Scottish Highlands which I'll try to scan (don't have a digicam) and upload tomorrow for your advice. It's 1:05am here so I'm off to bed now!


10-19-2002, 09:29 PM
Hiya Ward!!! Welcome to the crew:D
And just so you know...the line for unfinished projects starts behind < Moi' ..ME:D
I am the queen of unfinished pics...I have a couple of mates on here that have reallllllly helped keep me going enuff to finish a few!
Thanks Mates*< ;)
I personally found signing up for the WC projects to be a great nip in the hinney to force me to finish a few as well. :D
I just tend to loose my inspirations quickly, if I dont finish a pic that moment Im working on it, I will find it boring when I get back to it:(
So rest assured youre in good company....so pull up a chair and get comfy, its time to get crackin!!!:)

10-19-2002, 09:48 PM
Hi Ward,
welcome to wc....you will love it here....I have a question for you....How much time do you have in a painting that isn't finished? What I like most about pastels are they can be done fast....with in a few hours....unless you are going for big and realism than you can really rack up the hours in a painting...
When I first started painting I had trouble knowing when a painting was finished...When you start posting your work you might be supprised in the feed back. I would say post one, their are some very wonderful artist here who could give you some tips on just a few touches that would finish a painting...just a thought..looking forword to seeing your work.


Charles Perera
10-20-2002, 04:54 AM
Ward, you are not the only one found in this predicament. I appear to be a carbon copy of what you had described about yourself. I started painting with pastels, I liked the luminosity, the brightness of color and unencumbered handling, and the ability to keep a painting going on for a long period of time. I also have a collection of unfinished pastels, and take them whenever , inspiration nags me, and make a few strokes each time. I take about three months to finish a painting.... so do not get discouraged, salvage your unfinished ones and complete them one by one. You will be surprised the unsurpassed happiness each one will give when they come to life....


10-20-2002, 01:25 PM
Hi to Geri,Karen,Redsy,Birdie and Charles,
Really appreciate all your comments and support and it's a huge relief to know there are others like me out there!
The picture of Loch Duich is too big to scan (11 x 9 inches) - it was my first attempt at using wet and dry sandpaper (P1000 grade) which feels great to draw on except I was a bit too heavy-handed and didn't build up fixed layers.
Instead, I'm going to try an upload (gulp!) with this picture of my wife looking thru a window in an old Spanish door. It's 8 x 6 inches on Daler-Rowney Ingres. It is about the third picture I've done which I would consider trying to frame, but again I think I've been a bit heavy-handed. Grateful for any crit, however harsh, or advice.
Bestest regards!

10-20-2002, 02:06 PM
Ward...not really sure what you mean by heavy handed...I think this looks marvelous. That door is fabulous!! I love the composition...it makes me wonder what she's looking at through that window...with just getting a little hint at what's on the other side!

I'll look forward to seeing more of your work! :D

10-20-2002, 02:21 PM
Birdie, because I don't finish a painting in one go, I'm probably spending weeks on it. What usually happens is that I do a fair amount of work, then get a bit disillusioned, so I peel the painting off my board, complete with tape, and stick it onto the wall where it seems to stay.
Charles, nice to know I have a "double" in Le France! Perhaps I'm expecting too much too soon and should adopt your approach to this work.
Thanks to Karen's help I managed to upload the picture I mentioned. Now that I've peeled Loch Duich off the wall I really don't think I'll upload it. It is pretty basic rubbish. Looks quite good from about 12 - 15 ft (3 or 4 m Charles) away but up close it's ROUGH!
By the way, has anyone tried using ordinary hair spray for fixative? Apparently it works ok and is much cheaper than the the normal stuff, although I don't know if you can get buy an unperfumed type.

10-22-2002, 05:09 AM
Hi Ward from a fellow UK pastellist!!

Just to say that if you have any pastelling questions which are a bit long-winded for the forum, you can always telephone me and I will run through stuff with you. Email or PM me first, and I will send you my telephone number.

Just a couple of things looking back thro your thread.

1. Why not try my Van Gogh exercise? You WILL finish that, I promise! Also you might be able to find another one I posted, a still life of fruits on a white tablecloth. Sometimes it is quite helpful to do things just as exercises, when you know there is a finished product to work towards, it makes things easier.

2. Yes, do try practicing different techniques. This will build your confidence. Pastels look more substantial and interesting when your work is underpinned by technical know-how.

3. Be a bit wary of using too much sandpapery-type surfaces while you are "practicing". It is expensive to use, and uses up your pastels at a rate of knots! Degas worked on pastel paper, and if that was good enough for him, it should be good enough for us! In fact, my suspicion is that it is probably better in many respects, than these tricky modern surfaces which may not have real longevity. You cannot beat Canson Mi-Teinte - it has two different surfaces, one side more textured than the other so you can try both, it won't eat up your pastels, you have to learn to be less heavy handed on the smooth side, and it is archival quality.

4. Hairspray is OK for unimportant practice pieces, it is essentially made of shellac, which is probably what most fixatives are made of too. However, it MIGHT darken your work over time, so don't use it for important pieces that yu want to keep.

Have fun!


visit my website which has a “troubleshooter” page of helpful pastel tips and hints (http://www.jackiesimmonds.co.uk)

Also see my posts in The Artists Marketplace here at WC!

10-24-2002, 03:24 PM
Welcome to the forum. I find everyone here to be very helpful in working through our pieces. I think the door looks great and i'm sure the line is forming on how many of us have pieces that are waiting for that last bit of inspiration. Sometimes this is the perfect forum to get that perspective. :)