Sunday, May 14, 2017

Know Your Limits

Road to the Beach 3x10" pastel on paper
A few weeks ago I gave a workshop to about 50 high school students who were interested in learning about pastel.  When the school teacher offered to bring sets of pastels I had a pretty good hunch that she was going to bring sets of Alphacolor soft pastels.  To a lot of pastelists this would seem like a huge setback. How can students learn about the medium with these cheap sets? Well, we all have to start somewhere and I fondly remember them being my first set.
What really amazed me was what they achieved with such few pastels. If you use pastel you're probably in the boat with most who think you can never have too many pastels. Trust me, I could pilot that boat, but I'm starting to question just how many we really need. I decided to challenge myself and use just a handful of colours to do this small landscape.  It wasn't an "Alphacolor challenge" because I did choose several greens, but I did limit myself. 
Only 19 colours which is less than the set of 24 that most of the students were using.  I'm not sure what more I could achieve with more colours.  This little exercise was fun and is really getting me to rethink some things. Is this the first step to overcoming my art supply addiction? Stay tuned...


  1. No, we're alway addicts and we have to go a day at a time. Some of us may even need an accountable sponsor. That's a great little study there. I'm thinking if we subtracted the sticks that didn't work in a picture from the ones we actually needed, 19 is probably about right. Considering there are 12 colors around the wheel (and we rarely use the WHOLE spectrum) times a few values of some colors and fewer of the rest...

    1. You know, I never thought about the "12 colours around the wheel". It makes too much sense now that you've said it. As for the supply addiction. We're going to have to make friends with some carpenters so they can build us some nice storage units.