The Pastel Palette Method

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Day 31 My Book: "The Pastel Palette Method" Broken Pastel Sticks are a Good Thing

Broken Pastels are a Good Thing

Have you ever had your favorite pastel color drop to the floor and shatter into tiny pieces? Some of these pastel sticks are quite expensive and I yelled out a loud “Oh no!” on occasion. There is a very good silver lining to this seemingly disastrous dark cloud scenario.

When I was in Harvey Dinnerstein’s class at the National Academy School of Fine Arts, he wanted me to put the tiniest detail on the pupil of my portrait’s eye. I went in with a pastel pencil and he stopped me. He dropped one of my pastel sticks on the ground and he told me it was on purpose. I was puzzled as he proceeded to pick up one of the shards of shattered pastel between his thumb and index finger. He then with the sharpest point of that pastel shard, rendered that tiny detail perfectly like the focus of a laser beam.

I learned so much about pastels in Harvey’s class. What I learned that day, was that a piece of broken pastel is perfect for those final details such as the highlights and the dark accents of a portrait.

Next time you drop your favorite pastel stick remember that it's a good thing and to save those valuable shards of pastel.

You can also check out and subscribe to my YouTube channel where I demonstrate tips and tricks in pastels, drawing and airbrush:

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Day 30 My Book: "The Pastel Palette Method" Every Painting is Tending to Your Bamboo Seed

Every Painting is Tending to Your Bamboo Seed

We all want to grow as artists and our road of mastering the pastel medium is part of that growth. Our personal growth does not always happen at the same pace as others around us. This can be very disheartening and it’s easy to get discouraged. We have all had our hopes dashed at one time or another. Can we get out of our own way and through the obstacle of discouragement?

Yes! We most certainly can and we will get through it if we work in spite of such emotions and adversity. Each drawing, each painting is a learning experience, a rung on the ladder of our artistic growth. When you want to throw in the towel, buckle down and continue to work. How you feel doesn’t matter because this is a process. If a painting or drawing is giving you a hard time, continue. The painting or drawing is part of the bigger picture that is larger than itself. The bigger picture is your life’s growth as an artist. Remember if you are standing still, you are going backwards.

A friend told me about a story of a farmer and the life of the bamboo plant. This plant begins with a seed and the farmer that is willing to wait. That person will water that seed every day. Years go by and seemingly nothing is happening. There is no evidence of growth at this point. Is all the watering and keeping the ground fertile an act of futility? Others may wonder what in the world is he doing? They may also wonder why he is investing all this time in a seed that is obviously not growing. But one day, after five years, something happens. The plant emerges from the ground. In 5 weeks after this plant emerges, it grows to over 90 feet tall.

That’s you, the farmer and the seed is your growth as an artist. Don’t worry whether or not you can see the growth of your art. Just continue to tend to your seed. Nature rewards this kind of faith that the farmer had and you will be rewarded as well.  Work through discouragement and have faith in the process of being an artist.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Day 29 My Book: "The Pastel Palette Method" How Do You Get Someone to Pose?

How Do You Get Someone to Pose?

How do you get someone to pose for your next painting? This is where you find the star of your next pastel. The search must be thorough and they must be able to portray the image and emotions that are perfect for your painting.

I have been painting models for many years and it’s never easy to ask someone to pose for me. It won’t always be a comfortable experience for you either. To do this you need to get out of your comfort zone and be bold.

I like to ask people that I see every day. Perhaps a colleague at work or someone that you may see working at your favorite restaurant. You may even start by asking close friends and family members to pose. Frida Kahlo would often pose herself as did Rembrandt for their own paintings. The main point is that you will either have to pose yourself or someone else to bring your compositions to life. I never condone working from imagination. This will result in a disastrous painting. We are not better than nature and who are we to make things up?

Once you find a model that is perfect for your concept, you may let him or her know the hourly rate you can afford to pay them. I often exchange a portrait drawing of the model as payment for their time. More often than not, they are thrilled with this exchange.

Now that the model has agreed to pose, you will need to protect your work with an artist/model agreement. This one-page form is available on the Internet for free to download and print out. Once filled out and signed by both you and your model, this legal document will assure you that you have all intellectual rights to the photos that you take of the model and the subsequent artwork from those photos. If you do not have this form signed you will have no rights to your images. I am not saying that this would happen but you do want to be covered in the event they do not like the artwork or photos for any reason. 

In Conclusion, don't be shy and ask that person to pose if they are perfect for your next painting. The health of your paintings depends on it.

Day 31 My Book: "The Pastel Palette Method" Broken Pastel Sticks are a Good Thing

Broken Pastels are a Good Thing Have you ever had your favorite pastel color drop to the floor and shatter into tiny pieces?...