Monday, January 10, 2011

Challenge - Soft Pastels

Did you like using soft pastels? They are one of my favorite art supplies. I just love the gentle blending that you can get from them.

My daughter used lots of blue in her beautiful plaid that she created on Tuesday, and all she has left is a few scraps of blue - BUT did you know that is easy to re-form your scraps into a new pastel? Collect all of your little bits of the same color and then crush them. Add a drop or two of alcohol then roll into a fairly thick stick. Let it dry for a few days and it is ready to use.

Remember that when you work with soft pastels you need to work from Dark to Light. This might be hard for those of you who are used to watercolors where you work Light to Dark. With soft pastels, once you have your light colors down you can't go over them with darks without loosing your crispness and making your colors muddy. Watch this sped up video of an artist at work and keep an eye out for which colors he chooses. Experiment with layering your pastels on a scrap piece of paper - you will see the difference very quickly.


Pastels can be messy, so keep a paper towel nearby to brush away any stray dust which can mark your paper. If a accidental mark is made that won't brush away, with a normal eraser, you can erase pastels. Sometimes traces will stay on the paper, because pastel dust holds in the pores of the paper, but often you will be able to make the changes you need. For very fine corrections try using a flexible kneaded erasers.

Mary Cassatt loved to depict close relationships, especially between mothers and children. Try this yourself. Pull out your pastels and draw a portrait of a mom and her child. They could be
holding hands, working on something together, or just looking into one another's eyes. Try to capture the tender feelings that Mary Cassatt was so good at showing in her artwork.

There is a great simple biography and slideshow of Mary Cassatt's work at GardenOfPraise. She also has posted several wonderful games including a jigsaw puzzle of The Boating Party which you probably still have hanging somewhere in your home. Lots of a fun is to be had at this site. Don't miss it.

I have printed up your work from Tuesday and plan to deliver your get well cards tomorrow. Hopefully I can get some pictures posted for you soon. The residents are sure to appreciate your thoughtfulness.