Pastel Starter Kit

images-1.jpegOur recent ruminations on Pastel FAQ’s has resulted
in an influx of rather spirited e-mails. Some of you have even prioritized
your questions in order of importance to you as an artist. All we can
say is, wow. Your enthusiasm for the medium continues to inspire and
amaze us. So, what do you want to know this time around? Here is a
sampling (in order of importance to you as artists, of course).

Q. Pastel dust!?! How do I keep it at bay?

A. Artists are an inventive sort–we hear all kinds of improvised solutions to this problem and we’re always interested in hearing more–but the reality is that pastel dust comes with the territory. Learn to love it, and try to resist the temptation to blow on your paintings. Take your work on a little walk outside from time to time and tap it to remove excess dust. Wear disposable gloves or gloves in a bottle (check out the one-gallon bottle!) to protect your hands and wear a dust mask to protect your lungs if you’re worried about your asthma. Many artists attach a dust trap to their easels for the purpose of catching dust, some lined with masking tape, and some attached to a device that will whisk the dust away to dust heaven. I can’t resist adding Madlyn-Ann C. Woolwich‘s characteristically charming voice to the conversation here:

Humming quietly next to me is an air cleaner….not the kind that takes
up a whole studio and costs a fortune; but one of the tall, thin ones that
are next to noiseless; that attract flying particles to a metal rod which is
removable and washable. It runs cheaply for hours, without annoying noises.
My easel tray is protected by
a large trash bag clamped over the tray. When
dust hits the tilted tray it falls forward into
the bag. I use an old toothbrush to hasten any recalcitrant particles into
the bag. My feet are covered with large baggies, fastened at the top with the
double red elastics used to bind manuscripts. In a word I look wierd.
(Read the entire essay here.)

Q. Where can I find pastel supports (boards and papers) online?
A. Here’s a (short) list of online resources in no particular order: Cheap Joe’s, Jerry’s Artarama, Dick Blick, Dakota Art Pastels, Mister Art, Winsor & Newton, Jack Richeson & Co, Ampersand Art Supply.

Q. Who do I talk to about my subscription?
A. Give customer service a call at 877-860-9141 or click here.

Q. How do I get started in pastels?
A. One good way to learn about pastels is to talk to pastel artists–join the pastel community, why don’t you? As it happens, there’s a riveting conversation on this very topic happening right now at WetCanvas! The lovely and knowledgable Deborah Secor takes up questions such as these (see list below) for newbies to the pastel world. Visit this, the king of all newbie threads, to find the answers from a variety of perspectives.

1. What pastels should you buy first and why?
2. What paper(s) should you try and why?
3. What other supplies will you need and what will you use them for?
4. How do you go about setting up to use pastels the very first time?
5. What about storing that pastel once you have something you want to keep?

Of course, we’ve also got to give an obligitory nod to The Pastel Journal as an excellent resource for information on pastels. It’s the only magazine designed specifically with pastel artists (both beginners and professionals) in mind. In the new special competition issue, you’ll find more than 100 award-winning pastel paintings, plus a
special report (compiled by Deborah Secor) on getting the best bang for
your buck out of your art supplies. Visit an online gallery of works by the artists who contributed to Secor’s feature here. And watch an online interview with the competition’s Grand Prize winner Ron Monsma here.

As always, send us questions if you’ve got ’em by clicking here.

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