Getting Organzied | The Pastel Edition, Part 2

In last week’s blog entry, I started a discussion on organizing pastels. Hopefully, many of you that received pastels as presents last week, or noticed that you had not dealt with the last set of pastels you acquired, have begun to prepare them for use and safely stowed what remains. If so, two of the Ds of pastel organization have been confronted: the “difficulty” of finding organized storage space in your studio and the “daunting” task of breaking the individual sticks of pastel into usable sizes for your palette. This brings us to the third D of the triad: the “disheartening” chore of recording information about the individual pastel sticks and subsequent palette arrangements for future replenishment.

organizing your pastels

Pastel manufacturer’s brochures, highlighters and a Happy New Year pastel martini!

Keeping Track of Your Pastels: When most of us first started painting with pastel, it was easy to keep track of the individual sticks we were using because we had so few and our selections were weighted towards one brand. As individual pastel pieces wore down, we would simply go back to the original assortment and look for the other half of the stick. But, as additional pastels eventually migrated into the everyday palette, it became increasing more difficult to differentiate one brand from another. Pastel sticks that frequently need replacement are favorites. We want the same stick. It is frustrating to search through dozens of pastel sets looking for that old familiar pastel stick only to come up short. A couple of the ways I have dealt with this disheartening situation is to keep records of the sticks I own and the ones used in specific palettes.

  • Keep the Brochure. One of the easiest ways to record what pastels you own is to save the manufacturer’s brochures that list their full range of offerings. Highlight the pastels you own with a bright highlighter pen. Multiple brochures can be used for specific palette setups as well. This makes duplication less likely the next time you’re purchasing pastels.
  • Make Color Charts. Since commercially printed charts are never absolutely color accurate, it’s also a good idea to make your own chart by marking the actual pastel stick onto a piece of white, or light gray, pastel paper. List the manufacturer’s name, hue and any numeric or alphabetic code indicated on the stick, next to the swatch. Do the same for specific working palettes. This allows you to have multiple pastel brands commingled within one palette.
  • Pick a Primary Brand. Another help is to heavily weight a working pastel palette towards one brand. This greatly narrows the field of potential replacements. Since I typically use a half-size portion of a full pastel stick for painting, I retain the other half with the original label. When it is time to replenish the palette, I place the remaining portion of the stick into the palette and make note of the information on the label for replacement.

The true nature of creativity is often at odds with good order but, kicking off the New Year with a little pastel organization can go a long way toward alleviating the three Ds. Instead of painting with a little shard of pastel, you will be better equipped to find its replacement. Then comes the pastel hoarding …

Happy New Year! May it be filled with lots of pastel dust!

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One thought on “Getting Organzied | The Pastel Edition, Part 2

  1. drusilla

    I use a separate, designated, large sketch pad to make my color charts. Its actually very relaxing for me to make them and I enjoy the process. I made that a part of my “studio integration” every time I brought a new set in, kind of a ritual of introduction to all the delicious colors. After decades of pastel enjoyment sometimes it’s fun to go through my charts just to see the variety we now have and what I have used in the past. I plan on doing the same with paper samples, we have so much more now than we ever had to work with, it’s wonderful!