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Old 03-10-2007, 10:48 PM
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Re: "How to Get Started in Soft Pastels" for our newbies

I have bought some soft pastels. And can't do anything with them. They are to soft for me to draw with. So I take my knife, and rake it along the pastels of my choice. And make powder. After that, I either add water to the dust or wet my paint brush. And paint with it. But I can't seem to blend them like I want. (I love blending anything that I am either painting or drawing. I just like the effect) What is anyone exsperience with the pastel pencils? So they blend well? And is there dust with them? If they don't blend well, what kind of pastel would I use that would not crumble with alot of dust. I know that there are a lot of hardness of them. I don't want to go out and buy them. And then they don't blend. Any suggestions?
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Old 03-11-2007, 12:34 PM
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Re: "How to Get Started in Soft Pastels" for our newbies

Hi Life ofArt, and welcome to this forum!!! Everyone here is very helpful. I'm sorry you are having such a hard time with your new pastels.

I think before anyone can answer your questions, we need to know what kind of pastels you bought (brand) and what kind of paper you are using. Do you use a soft touch? or do you press down hard? What kind of "painting" are you trying to do? Or are you more interested in drawing per se?

Give us some more info, so we can give you some guidance.

p.s. looking back at your posts it looks like you are pretty new to the world of the artist, and maybe you are expecting too much of yourself too soon. Keep experimenting, take classes, and practice, practice, practice. Nobody can do it any other way, and if they say they did, they are probably fibbing And don't give up!! My first art teacher said you have to do at least 100 paintings before you begin to understand how to paint (or use pastels, in this case). It takes time and practice. You learn with every stroke. So don't get discouraged.
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Last edited by Dot Hoffman : 03-11-2007 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 03-12-2007, 03:14 PM
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Re: "How to Get Started in Soft Pastels" for our newbies

I like the idea of aluminum foil along the tray of my easel. I have been saving all my pastel dust in a clean glass jar (I think it was an unused spice jar), in the hopes of making some excellent neutral pastels in the future. I also had some pastels that crumbled that I tossed in there. I can't handle the little pieces because of carpel tunnel, but I figure eventually I can recycle them into the new pastels. The foil will make that transfer much easier.
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Old 03-12-2007, 08:27 PM
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Re: "How to Get Started in Soft Pastels" for our newbies

g'day, being new to this forum and having reintroduced myself to art after many years, I managed to purchased a 90-pc. Rembrandt Landscape set and a 40 pc. half stick set of Sennelier pastels. I hope I have not shot myself in the foot purchasing the landscape set. I don't want to just limit myself to landscape; I reckon I would still be able to try still lifes as well. I really would likie to tackle Diana's workshop without having to buy more pastels. As I re-read this it seems like a dumb post, but I'll post it anyway.

This is a wonderful forum, I'm so happy I found it. the only downside is that I've been spending so much time reading through threads, i'm not spending any time painting!
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Old 03-13-2007, 07:42 AM
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Re: "How to Get Started in Soft Pastels" for our newbies

Hi Roogal, don't forget that you can buy single pastels to get that colour you think you are missing or maybe need for an inividual project ( but the danger is actually trying to get out of an art shop & leaving something for the next customer .

No, seriously, I don't have all the colours that Diane suggests but did buy a few. If you are looking at our landscapes 'do yourself a favour' (sorry Molly)
and check out the Art Spectrum greens - they are Australian and they have some of the most divine eucalypt type greens ( which are so different from the Northern hemisphere colours).

Have fun playing in the dust.

LifeOfArt, perhaps if you don't try to draw on the pastel paper but get your image right on cartridge paper then transfer (trace using a pastel pencil) onto your chosen paper. You can then use a wiping action to place you very soft pastels where you want their colour, and blend.

Unfortunately you may have leapt into buying a beautifully expensive set like Schminke and I too find those too soft - I only keep a couple of Shminke's for highlights (just love their white even though my last one disintegrated between foam in my pastel box! )

Have fun & Dot is right take classes & practice, practice, practice. Nothing is a waste of time beause you are always improving.

Sue
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Old 03-13-2007, 08:16 AM
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Re: "How to Get Started in Soft Pastels" for our newbies

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigs
No, seriously, I don't have all the colours that Diane suggests but did buy a few. If you are looking at our landscapes 'do yourself a favour' (sorry Molly)
and check out the Art Spectrum greens - they are Australian and they have some of the most divine eucalypt type greens ( which are so different from the Northern hemisphere colours).

Thanks Sue for the info about the Art Spectrum greens. I will definitely have a look at them next time I get to the art supply shop. And you are quite correct, it is difficult to leave the shop without wanting to buy all the stock. Most of the time when I get there, it seems everyone else beat me to it and the pickings are slim. Timing is everything.

Cheers!
Pam
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Old 03-13-2007, 08:30 PM
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Re: "How to Get Started in Soft Pastels" for our newbies

Hi, what do you think about Pentalic rag paper and Strathmore for pastel painting?.
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Old 03-14-2007, 02:24 PM
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Re: "How to Get Started in Soft Pastels" for our newbies

I'm new to pastels and trying to find out as much as I can before I start using. I was wonering why are some pastel drawings look so chalky and other look smooth?
Ayasia
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Old 03-18-2007, 11:34 AM
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Re: "How to Get Started in Soft Pastels" for our newbies

Soooo many questions and experiences......

I'm chiming in a bit late, but if someone new to pastels is really researching the medium, they will make it this far into the thread. I believe I can offer some thoughts to RooGal, Life of Art and some others also along the way....


The Pastels I use and how I built my collection:

My first pastel purchase was Rembrandt's 90 pc. Landscape set. Ninety sticks of pigment sounded like a lot at the time, but very quickly you find it is only a foundation. Be assured, RooGal, that the landscape set is highly versatile. In fact, if you compare many landscape and portrait sets, you will find very similar colors. And if you compare landscape paintings with portrait paintings, you will often find the same earth tones used in landscapes are used in the human figure, as well. I personally find that exciting!

I elected to buy individual sticks over a period of 2 years. I did this after reading about the many different pastel producers, the hardness of some brands and the buttery texture of others. I needed to experiment and find what worked best for me. Rembrandts are a staple in my stable. Both Rembrandts and Unisons are my workhorses, used to complete at least 80% of a painting. I also have a full set (90 pc.) of the NuPastel for drawing and underpainting.

I use Sennelier for the remainder of my painting layers -- the last 15-20% of the painting. While Sennelier are inconsistent in hardness/softness, I have yet to find another brand that offers such lucious colors.

I have a smattering of Diane Townsend's, Schmienke's, and Mount Vision. All nice brands. I just haven't found a reason to buy more of them.

I did splurge and buy myself the Richard Dawson Workshop Companion from Great American Artworks -- I wanted to try them out. Very buttery; the set will probably last me years as I'll only use it for highlights and final layers. But I can appreciate why many people love the brand.

[b]Getting started with pastels:B]

I started by taking a continuing education class at the local community collage for 4 weeks. It was a good start and piqued my interest enough to get going. The artist who taught the class was talented and extremely supportive. He did not have a wealth of knowledge regarding pastels, but that did not hinder the class (keep in mind it was only a beginner's class).

Then I began reading and researching. THIS is what made a difference! There is a wealth of information out there -- only after doing some reading about the medium did I discover all the types of pastels, various approaches, the papers and other materials used. That's when I began experimenting!!!!

Just a personal note on purchasing materials. I decided early on that to make great art I had to have the correct materials. I began by using a limited palette and Canson papers, which worked fine. But I decided to expand my options, and I saw a significant difference in the quality of work I was able to produce. The potential outcomes were worth the financial investment.

Workshops:

It took me about 6 months to choke down the expense of a workshop. In hindsight, workshops by professional artists are worth every penny!!! I would still suggest researching the artist, seeing what others say about their workshops, and see what they will be emphasizing in a particular workshop.

Thus far, I have taken 3 professional workshops, 2 of them specifically in pastel. My instructors were Elizabeth "Betsy" Apgar-Smith, Margaret Evans, and Orazaio Salati (acrylics). Each was an absolutely incredible experience. The richness of knowledge and skill that they possess and convey was inspiring. I planned to take a workshop with Maggie Price this summer, but I could not rework my schedule to fit it in and had to cancel (very disappointing).

So, there it is, a very, very, very brief glimpse into how I became a pastel artist.

Paul
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Old 03-23-2007, 07:38 PM
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Re: "How to Get Started in Soft Pastels" for our newbies

I just recieved my 60 full / 60 half assortment from Rembrandt and i contacted the company asking for the color key codes for the 1/2 sticks.

They sent me a reply with the codes for all the ones in that set. The 1/2 pastel's start at the 61 line item and are indicated with .5 in the name, it is also in Dutch. Everything is in order from the super white on, it makes it alittle easier to know the codes are when you need to replace them.....the color charts don't always look the same as the product

Betsy
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Old 04-03-2007, 02:03 AM
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Re: "How to Get Started in Soft Pastels" for our newbies

I still feel like a yung un around here but would like to offer two cents worth. I am left handed and find it difficult not to drag my hand into my work. I have fashioned an AWL (?sp?) using a bit of pvc pipe we have left over from putting in our backyard sprinklers I think it is 1/2 inch pvc. I cut it to about a foot and a half and placed two rubber cane tips on each end. I picked up the cane tips at Walmart. This way I can reach the center of a piece and easily to add detail, or clean up a spot that I messed up.

I can't work without it now.

dusty business,
Carol
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Old 04-03-2007, 11:04 AM
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Re: "How to Get Started in Soft Pastels" for our newbies

That is a good idea Carol, I'm left handed too. Can you take a picture of it and see how it works. I'm very visual and can't quite see the picture in my head.
Thank you!
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Old 04-04-2007, 02:19 AM
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Re: "How to Get Started in Soft Pastels" for our newbies


What I was refering to is called a Mahl stick. No wonder you are curious. The art stores carry various types, a popular type has the ends wrapped with leather.

My "mahl" is made with 1 inch pvc (used for yard irragation) and it is about a foot and a half in length. I want it longer than the paper I am painting on. I have a cane tip on each end. I bought the cane tips at Walmart. I place one end at the outside of my picture and hold the other end with my right hand. This enables me to draw detail without worrying about keeping my hand out of the worked areas. The rubber tip holds the mahl steady. If I want I can lay the mahl across my work. The stick part will be a half inch or so above the painting as the tips are wider. I took some pictures to give you an idea. (I am terrible with a camera!)
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Old 05-14-2007, 08:15 AM
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Re: "How to Get Started in Soft Pastels" for our newbies

Thanks everyone, there is so much stuff to take in here - no doubt some will work for me, some maybe won't - but it's really great that everyone takes the time and the trouble to do their best to help out.
This is a brilliant thread, and website in general. It's not that often that you can get so much for nothing these days!!!!!!
Regards,
Pabs
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Old 05-14-2007, 09:18 AM
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Re: "How to Get Started in Soft Pastels" for our newbies

Paul,

Thank you so much for all the information you provided. You outlined the process very well. I have been puttering along myself trying to find my style. I experimented with Senneliers and hate them. They fall apart too easily for me. I guess I am a substance gal.........but I love my Rembrandts and also my Mungyos......and my pastel pencils.......I love the colourfix paper and also the Canson smooth side, although most people hate it..Canson is alright by me.

Again, thanks for your post and to everyone else who has provided some very good advice in this thread.
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