Saturday, June 12, 2010

Artistic Polar Bear Challenge: 100 Ways in 100 Days. #27 - Pastels

I went on an archaeological dig of my art supplies the other day, and unearthed a small box of unused pastels.  I really, really have no idea how long they've been in my possession.  I don't remember buying them.  I don't remember getting them as a gift.  Since pastels don't seem to have an expiration date (at least I couldn't find one on the dusty box anywhere), it will be one of those little mysteries that will stew in the back of my brain forever.  Maybe the "Ye Olde Rembrandte Softe Pastels" label on the box could give me a clue to their date of origin.  Or maybe I'll just have them carbon dated. 

Anyway, what better time to try Ye Olde Pastels?  I tried to let the pastels 'do their thing' (whatever that means), but with only 12 colors and no experience at my disposal, I felt my options were a bit limited.

Pastel Bear
Soft pastels on paper

There were several interesting things I learned about pastels from this study:
  • I like the 'immediacy' of pastels.  Pick it up, put color on paper.  Nothing intermediate, like brushes and mixing paint on a palette.  It's like having color practically flow from your fingertips, without having to go through all the bother of mutant genetic experimentation.
  • Now I understand why every time you see the palette of a pastel artist, they seem to have at least one pastel in each and every color, value and intensity that has ever been created.   It's much easier, more effective, and just darn better looking to have the exact pastel you need, and put it's mark down on paper.  Pastels, at least in my beginners hands, don't seem to mix well, and go to mud fairly quickly.
  • Dust. (*cough*) And more dust.  I had heard rumors about the dust clouds that orbit pastel artists, sort of like the cloud that surrounded 'Pigpen" in the Peanuts comic strip. The amount of pastel dust quickly reached sandstorm proportions.  Within a few minutes, there was more pastel dust on me and the surrounding area than there was on the paper.  I made the innocent mistake of working flat, which just caused the dust to pile up in little sand dunes on the paper.  The only way to remedy the situation was to pick up the paper in a flat position, move it over a paper towel,  dump the sand dunes, then try to daintily remove the remnants that stubbornly clung to the paper.
  •  I have always liked pastel art.  In the right hands, there's a looseness and freshness that I find visually satisfying. I simply admired good pastel artists before (Brad Faegre is one favorite of mine), now I'm completely awed and agog of artists who handle the medium well.


Chelsea said...

This is beautiful. I just love the blue in the fur. Great job.

Lisa Walsh said...

Thanks a bunch, Chelsea. And...great profile pic!