A Valentine to Pastel

What is Love? According to most definitions, love is a strong positive emotion of regard and attraction. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines it as consisting of any number of emotions related to a sense of strong affection. While its definition may apply to a wide range of connotations, for many of us there’s no better word in the English language when it comes to defining how we feel about the medium of pastel.

On this day when Valentine cards are exchanged and gifts of affection are bestowed on the ones we love, I want to proclaim my love for pastel! How many ways do I love pastel? Let me share a few:

  • I love its tactile nature. Of all the means that artists use to express themselves, none compare to the feeling of a stick of pure, rich pigment being drawn across a surface quite like soft pastel. The direct connection and sense of touch that’s derived from the pastel stick being in direct contact with the hand produces an intimacy that’s lacking in other media that rely on an additional instrument for deployment.
  • I admire its ability to adapt to a variety of mixed-media techniques, making it unrivaled when it comes to creative expression. It gets along with just about every other painting medium. Its introduction expands the individual potential of other media, often providing the means to take an otherwise good painting to the point of exceptional. It is without a doubt one of the most versatile media currently available.
  • I adore the inherent patience of pastel. Since it contains no additional products that dry or alter its final appearance, it’s always quietly waiting for my return. It’s just as I left it and I’m able to pick up where I left off.

While other painting media may steal a bit of my affection from time to time, pastel is the one I always come back to. From my initial introduction in 1975 by one of my earliest mentors, Margaret Stahl Moyer, it’s been a constant love affair. Like most relationships, pastel and I have had our ups and downs and occasionally required outside counsel, but with each passing year, I’ve acquired a deeper appreciation for its attributes. The initial allure has developed into a comfortable dependency but the old passion is still there. Happy Valentines Day, Pastel!

Please post a comment sharing your feelings about pastel.


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3 thoughts on “A Valentine to Pastel

  1. Lynn Bernstein

    I love that despite staying home and taking care of my 2 and 4 year olds, I still manage to sneak in some painting time during the day. I couldn’t do this with oils or acrylic. With pastels, there are no brushes to clean or paint to put away – I simply wash my hands and the cleanup is done.

  2. Mary Ann Pals

    I love pastel because when I was taking private art lessons during grade school many years ago, pastel was my first experience with color. My very wise art teacher made me draw using charcoal until I could draw just about anything she set in front of me. I spent years at it, and for a school-age child that seemed like an eternity!

    Then one day she callled my mother and said I was ready for color. She told my mom what set of pastels to buy for me–Grumbacher, only the best at that time. Imagine my pure joy when I opened that box and started to use real color for the first time!

    I went on to eventually try every other art medium out there, but in the end I settled back to using my first color love….pastel. And I haven’t regretted that decision for one moment.