It’s been a long, long time since I’ve done anything with pastels, so when I headed to YouTube on Wednesday for the weekly Gettin’ Sketchy session and discovered that the evening’s project involved soft pastels, I almost logged off. But, hey… I just happened to have my pastels close at hand. I’m — once again — in the process of straightening up my studio, organizing all my art supplies, and trying to make it all efficient. So, all right. I grabbed my art journal and got ready to sketch.
My art journal, you might remember, is a small 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ gray toned sketchbook from Strathmore. It met with an unfortunate accident involving water, so it’s really not usable as a sketchbook. But it’s quite usable for my art journal. I generally do my art pages on separate sheets — watercolor paper, Yupo paper, cardstock — and then affix them to the warped pages. I’ve also used the book for the different Gettin’ Sketchy episodes, like the giraffe I sketched on the second week.
Since I don’t do much with pastels, I have a limited number — only a small set of Nu-Pastel sticks. That’s what I used to start this sketch.
I very quickly realized that the red pastel stick I had was more of a rosy red — almost pink — than a true red. My pepper was not looking too hot!
So I reached for my set of Giaconda pastel pencils, and I used them to finish this little pastel painting. Each session of Gettin’ Sketchy lasts for 45 minutes. I’d actually moved ahead of the instructor and finished mine in less than 30 minutes. As usual, he added a nice, white background around his pepper. I chose not to do that.
While I enjoyed playing with my pastel pencils, I don’t think pastel — in any form — is a medium I want to spend too much time on. I love seeing beautiful pastel paintings, and I’m friends with a few very, very talented pastel artists. I’ve just never really figured out how to use pastels, and that’s fine. I’ve become quite comfortable being a landscape painter who works in oil. Although it’s fun to play with different media from time to time, I’ve come to accept the fact that it’s better to focus on the ones I love most — oil painting and graphite drawing — and consistently work to improve my skills in those areas.
That’s a good understanding for me to have. For a long time, I’ve wrestled with lots of questions about how many different things I want to learn and do in art. I’m gradually beginning to find my way, to accept that I can’t do everything, and to be happy doing those things I love most.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t pull out pastel pencils, charcoal, colored pencils or whatever and just have a little fun now and then. Sometimes it’s good to do something different, even if it’s only for forty-five minutes or less.