Shadows on my Path, pastel on handmade paper, 10x15
copyright 2010 Jan Blencowe
Aaaah pastels, so glorious, so rich in color and smooth in feel especially when done on handmade paper! Doing this drawing today was as relaxing and sensuous as going to the spa for a hot stone massage.Creating art is good for the body, mind and soul and in the midst of this busy time of year don't we all need that? Oh and Pat-a-Pat-a-Pan is one of my favorite Christmas songs!
I just recently ( in the last few weeks) have gone back to using pastel. I had worked in pastel exclusively from 2001 - 2005 before switching back to oils, which is before I switched to acrylics. So many mediums so little time!
I gave all my pastels to my daughter who is studying with master pastelist Claudia Post. So I bought myself a small selection of about 18 nuPastels and Creatacolor pastels, both are the "hard" variety of soft (or dry) pastels (not oil pastels). I selected earthy colors and greens that I knew I would use in my landscapes and I also bought a set of the new Pan Pastels, the drawing set to be exact, which has several shades of gray and umber, along with burnt sienna, red oxide and black and white. All of those are very good for tonalist work and though the number of colors is limited they are just fine for doing small pastel drawings and studies.
So lets talk about the pan pastels. At first I thought they were just a gimmick but after working with them I really have to say that I LOVE them. They come in a round plastic dish that looks for all the world like eye shadow or blush! You apply the pan pastel to your surface using sponges and applicators that look just like what you would use for cosmetics. They also make little mitten like sponges in different shapes that fit on a plastic painting knife, these are my favorite tool so far. The pigments are very intense and the feel is lush and soft. The interesting thing is that the different applicators really give you control of how much pigment you are actually depositing on your paper. According to the manufacturer each pan has 35% more pastel than the average pastel stick. That's good but I think that it's the applicators that make these so valuable to the pastel artist. The sponges make it very easy to lay in that first layer of color over large areas and they easily create a loose painterly feel which you can leave or develop a more tightly rendered piece over those first layers. Pan pastels are compatible with all other brands of soft pastel and working in combination is probably the most versatile pastel experience you can have.
Of course you realize that this means that the Pan Pastel Landscape set is on my wish list now!