Pastel Practice

I have never worked in pastel before, so I decided to give it a try. I chose to work with Rembrandt Soft Pastels, which are the most expensive pastels that I could afford. My palette consists of a warm and cool version of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet, as well as some earth tones, Caput Mortuum, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna plus Black and White.

Because pastels do not mixed until they are blended or layered on the paper, I had to buy a few tones of each color to make sure I could produce a range of values. The costs quickly added up.

I feel that many of my drawings and paintings lack movement and gesture. Since pastel seems to be a very loose, expressive medium, I hope this will help bring life into some of my drawings.

In order to get a feel for pastel, I am working on a series of simple objects. I did three apple studies trying to isolate different pastel marks.

An apple made using Vertical strokes only

An apple made by blending with my finger

An apple made using cross hatching only


  Mike Manley

February 7, 2009 at 10:12 AM

Hey Lora, I really like these studies. Which one do you like best?


February 8, 2009 at 7:17 AM

Hey Mike,

I think that I like the apple done with vertical lines the best.
The apple I blended with my finger is too smooth and looses some of its life.


February 8, 2009 at 8:11 AM

I agree Lora. I think that one is the strongest. If you'll forgive the critique though, it appears that the crosshatching didn't receive the same effort as the other two. Did you try all three together? Very nice experiments! This is the sort of thing I aspire to do and fail to accomplish. Good on you.

  Mike Manley

February 8, 2009 at 10:37 AM

Lora, I think trying this type of approach on a still life is really good, you could expand it to do three full drawings pushing each technique to the maximum, already to can clearly see how each approach gives you a different effect and feeling--bravo.

This would be an awesome class assignment. I like the first one the best myself because of the energy.


February 10, 2009 at 3:55 PM

Thanks Dave and Mike,

I must admit that the cross hatched apple did not get as much attention as the other two pictures. Cross hatching has always been sort of a mystery to me. I have never really figured out how to do it properly. If anyone has any suggestions, I would appreciate it.

I think that I am going to take your idea Mike, and make whole pictures highlighting the different marks. It is one thing to see a small area drawn using a particular mark, but an entire picture dominated by a single technique will really show me how it reads.

I really enjoy the comments guys, keep them coming!!!!