|My "backpack" size pastel box.|
I've had a couple of requests to post an image of my opened pastel box. (Or for those of you on Facebook...to re-post.) I don't claim to have the perfect set up, and I'm always questioning if I have the right proportions of each hue/chroma/value, and I add/subtract from it when I acquire a new supply of pastels. But this is pretty much what it usually looks like.
I mention the part about having this image initially posted on Facebook, because I chose to delete the entire post due to some unfortunate comments made by someone who simply misread something, and then decided that I was just doing it all wrong, partly because it didn't appear that I use any hard pastels.
When I posted the image on Facebook, I didn't mean for it to be that specific about my working methods or all of the materials I use. But for anyone curious, I do use a small amount of hard pastels--usually only about 4 or 5--for a loose block in that I wet down with alcohol, plus greys and neutrals, which I keep separate just due to space limitations. The pastels shown here in my box are mostly soft brands (Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, Schmincke and Unison, and maybe a few misc. others.)
When traveling, I find it easier to place my hard pastels separately in a small cardboard box with foam cushioning since it's just a few that I need, and then another cardboard "Terry Ludwig" box that holds 30 of my favorite greys and neutrals. I sometimes customize these small boxes with specific pastels I think I may need for particular workshop demonstrations. Those small cardboard boxes, with my backpack size Heilman box, fit nicely into my rolling backpack that I carry onto a plane. I usually use this same combination for pastel plein air in my same rolling backpack.
For traditional pastel artists, the norm has always been to start with hard pastels and work up to softer sticks, typically due to the way in which pastel pigment fills the tooth of the paper. The softer the pastel, the more quickly it fills the tooth of the pastel surface. But materials are changing all the time, and the pastel supply manufacturers are getting almost as creative as the artists when it comes to how the products perform. So even though an admired artist or workshop instructor shows you a particular method, certainly give it a try, but always give yourself time in your own studio to experiment with your supplies. What didn't work on materials made 15 years ago may actually react much differently with newer brands. There are of course common methods that are used for good reason. (i.e., don't try and wet down a thick layer of very soft pastel...it makes a sticky mess that completely fills the tooth! But hey, someone out there may find a way to make that method work in their own unique way.)
What's amazing about pastels, or any painting medium, or really any creative process, is that there's no one right way to create art. That's what makes it art, and not something cut-and-dry like accounting. And it's also what makes it unique to each individual artist.
On another note...
I've noticed that I no longer can receive comments on this blog. I have no idea why. I've looked into it and haven't yet found a solution. It doesn't appear that there's even a spot anymore for someone to leave a comment, but I could be wrong. If anyone happens to know why this is and how to correct it, I'd welcome your input via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I always enjoy reading the comments people leave here on my blog...and I really miss them!