[This is the third time I’ve tried to post – for some reason, I managed to get the pics up (2nd try), but every time I WRITE content, WC pretends I’m not signed in and kicks me off. Getting more than a little frustrated (grump, grump).]
Richard, I love your pastel collection and your storage!
I’m new to soft pastels this year, but have spent more $$$ than I probably care to admit to myself! It is definitely an expensive medium to work in and a heck of a lot bigger challenge to handle on the storage front than watercolor!
I started with some half-stick collections from GA, Richeson, and Unison, as well as some samplers. I quickly got tired of trying to work from the boxes and since I prefer to work plein air anyway, I bought a pochade box first (Dakota). I struggled like many on the Heilman vs. Dakota front, but finances won out and I actually like the Dakota pochade box for portability (and there is something about taping the support inside a box type arrangement that doesn’t appeal to me so I like the way that is handled on the Dakota box). Most of those early pastels ended up in the pochade box along with some random Girault, some pieces of Nupastels, etc.
I finally reached a point where I figured I should focus on just a couple lines and settled on MVs for my “workhorse” pastel, Nupastels for some of the underpaintings, and TLs for…well….BECAUSE. As I started to collect the MVs and TLs I worked out of the original boxes at first, but realized that was just not going to work. I need to put my pastels away after a painting session because I have 3 curious cats, no dedicated studio room, and one of the cats has a penchant for consuming pigment (whether watercolor or possibly pastels – he started sniffing the boxes when I first got them so he KNOWS there are delicious pigments in there).
So…I opted for the large Dakota traveler box. My thought (feel free to laugh) is that I really DO want to contain my collection within the bounds of that box – it will be “storage” for indoor painting purposes, but will also be an expanded collection to take to workshops, maybe some plein air sessions, etc. I have an easel that will hold it alt! Alhough the easel is probably never going to be (for me) an every day plein air thing even though it’s a field easel because….holy cow, what a process to set it up or fold it back down! I’ll take the pochade box on a tripod mount any day. My “field easel” is now my permanent indoor easel.
I have found I prefer working with small pieces of pastels so this works well for my current plans. We’ll see how it holds up long term! I suspect I still think about color from a bit of a watercolor perspective because I struggled a bit with how to organize my 10 sections in the box. And the second section from the far right is mostly the MV Thunderstorm collection because while I forced myself to take them out of their box, I couldn’t make myself redistribute them any further – Northwest gray skies, right? Lol Mixing the TLs in with the other pastels was HARD – I only have two sets of 30 and the first set was the 30 Autumn Leaves collection and I took that set plein air painting multiple times in fall and loved it. But…I don’t really want to go out plein air painting with half a dozen boxes so….. I also have a set of the TL darks and I found I do NOT need all of those in the working box, so about half of them are waiting their turn.
I use a cigar cutter (great tip picked up from an old thread here!) to cut my pastels although the TLs remain whole. All the “extras” are sorted into small Sterilite containers that have a cushion on the bottom (I got a cheap set of cushions foam at walmart that I cut to size for the sterilite boxes). I do swatch sheets (by brand) when I buy new sticks so that if I’ve used something up, I can (hopefully) match the last nubbin of color to a swatch to re-order.
I keep my complete set of Nupastels in their box and I have some panpastels, also in their designated packaging. When I go plein air painting, I have a large Gladware container that I throw things into including a few Panpastels and applicators.
For Christmas, I got myself the Blue Earth Nomad set. I actually went to Dakota Pastels last week intending to get something else and was seduced by the nomad set which had much more appealing colors in person. It is also smaller than I had imagined and since I do travel occasionally overseas for work, the Nomad set will stay in it's very lightweight set-up and can go with me (I am always on the edge of exceeding my luggage weight limits so the pochade box wouldn't make it for a work trip). When I use up the mish-mash in the pochade box, I will probably repopulate it with MV and TL pastels, but think about doing it in the sort of value-driven way of the Blue Earth sets (I'm heavy handed so I suspect I will blow through those BEs faster than I can afford to replace them - the MVs are a good value and will be my workhorses).
Richard, do you pre-select your pastels before beginning a painting? Since you have them sorted by brand/softness, instead of by color? I'm just curious. It was really a challenge for me to give up all those cool manufacturer boxes and organize by color, but I think that suits my plein air mentality for working