Tag Archives: soft pastel

Pan Pastels – Love Them, Love Them Not

pan pastelsRecently an artist friend recommended that I try pan pastels. She extolled their dustless virtues until I was itching to get myself a set. So when I came across a basic set on sale I jumped on it anxious to put them to the test.

I like the packaging and the way they screw together making a nice, neat stack. My set came with a few sponge applicators, but not handles for the sponge sleeves.

The consistency is creamy and they blend together beautifully. But dustless? They do have less dust than traditional sticks and of course it does make a difference what kind of surface you are using.

My first experiment was on  a lovely sanded paper. I did an under painting with the pans. Having just the basic set I felt very limited with the colors available. So I put in the basic shapes of boats, houses, mountains and trees. Then I resorted to my Sennelier sticks.

Leah Wiedemer, soft pastel, 6.5"x9"

Leah Wiedemer, soft pastel, 6.5″x9″

Yes, the sticks are much messier, but I don’t mind getting a little dirty when I work. I’m happy with the result but a little disappointed that I abandoned the pans in order to achieve the look I wanted.

For my next experiment I worked on Canson Mi Tientes paper on the smooth side.  I wanted to see if I could force myself to complete a painting using only pan pastels. First I laid in an under painting. The sponge applicators are great for blending and kept my fingers clean.

Under painting for Venice Rain by Leah Wiedemer

Under painting for Venice Rain by Leah Wiedemer

The colors looked like they were going to work. The pastels blended easily and created a minimal amount of dust. I continued working with the pan pastels indicating where I wanted the umbrellas, people and shop windows. Then when it came to final tweaking I again went back to my sticks. The temptation was just too great. I’m weak. I do love my Sennelier sticks and will probably continue to depend on them. There is something about the directness of stick to paper that makes me feel more connected to the work. Also I like an unblended swath of color here and there. I’ll use the pan pastels too, but only for backgrounds and under paintings.

Venice Rain, soft pastel by Leah Wiedemer 6.5"x9.5"

Venice Rain, soft pastel by Leah Wiedemer 6.5″x9.5″                                                  

What is your experience using pan pastels? Love ’em or hate ’em? I’d love to hear how you use them. Leave a comment to tell me what you think.

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What’s Your Favorite Color?

so many colors Do you remember when that was a go to “getting to know you” question in grade school? Well, children may know more than we give them credit for. Color preferences can still tell us a lot about ourselves and each other. Colors can influence our moods, create harmony or discord, peace or agitation, excitement or melancholy. Do you have a favorite color?
When I was growing up my favorite color changed almost daily. I still don’t have one favorite color. I do however have favorite color combinations. Certain colors put together give me a little thrill. I bought a sweater more than thirty years ago that I still have because it has the delicious (to me anyway) color combo of an ultramarine base with bright kelly green circles. That might not be your cup of tea, but whenever I see those colors together I have to smile.
Who didn’t experience a thrill of excitement upon opening that deluxe box of Crayola crayons for the first time and seeing all of those beautiful shades with their perfect points? The possibilities seemed endless. I get that same thrill now when I get a new box of soft pastels – the price tag for delight has definitely increased as anyone knows who has invested in a set of pastels. Still, it’s nice to know that my childhood pleasures continue.  
Do colors affect your moods? I read that people who spend a lot of time in a yellow room tend to be agitated and more argumentative. But I find a soft devonshire cream yellow to be soothing. A room done in caution sign yellow would probably make me into a raving lunatic. Red supposedly makes you feel hungry. That could explain my weight gain since I painted our kitchen red. Oh well, I like it so it stays. Orange seems to be a color that people either love or hate. On a recent shopping expedition it was a sea of orange in various intensities with a sprinkling of contrasting and complimentary colors. Orange on its own doesn’t do much for me, but mixed with all of those complimentary and contrasting shades it was rich and eye popping. Blue is very often chosen as a favorite color. It evokes feelings of tranquility, and we really can’t have too much of that.  However it’s cousin purple is less popular. At one time my red kitchen was purple and my children liked to refer to me as ‘the artist formerly known as mom’. For now I prefer the hunger inducing red.

So, here we are back to where we started.  Tell me – What is your favorite color? 

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Painting in Progress – Final

The painting is complete. I think I’m finished tweaking on it, but you never know… Until it’s framed there is always a chance that I will decide to make a minor color adjustment here and there. The final steps in my process are pressing in the pastels by putting it under a heavy board and giving it a light coating of fixative spray. Occasionally the fixative obliterates the whites and I have to go back in and re-do those. I decided, for now to leave in the pillar on the left. I was concerned that it would be distracting. I’m still not sure. Tell me what you think. I’m always open to suggestions and criticism.painting in progress 019

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Painting in Progress 3

Here we are in the third installment of our painting in progress. As you can see, I worked on the upper left side of the painting filling in the last of the porch furniture. I chose to paint the child’s chair that I mentioned in my last post, red for two reasons. I wanted to subtly highlight it by using the only red in my otherwise limited palette, and that is the color it was when I was a child. I continue to tweak the values, adjusting them as I compare one against the other. There is a large porch pillar on the left side. I’m a little concerned that it will be distracting. I painted it, but I may crop it out later if I decide the composition is better without it. I plan to complete the painting in my next sitting since it is simply a series of horizontals. Then I will do the final adjustments and finishing touches and call it a day. I welcome suggestions, comments and criticisms. painting in progress3 002
painting in progress3 004

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