Friday, January 20, 2006

Can you ever have enough pastels?

Most pastellists would snort at this completely rhetorical question since the answer is emphatically 'No'. People who use pastels in a serious way seem to get overtaken at some point by an absolute urge to acquire yet more pastels - to try a new brand, to find another version of that colour which they use all the time, to just replace all of those they've used up - and most importantly - to have that sensation of taking off a wrapper and snapping a new pastel in two.

Whatever the reason, many a happy hour can be spent searching out new sources of supplies, swapping notes with other pastel artists and describing experiences of using a particular brand with all the eloquence and flowery language usually reserved for those who write about wine. Or maybe I mean restaurant critics? Words like "luscious, buttery, creamy, delicious" abound when soft pastellists get together. And then there's the whole process of grading the softness of the different brands and the different colours!

And every so often we have to have a look at what each other has got. Or we need to show what we've got to people who are just starting out..........which is what I was doing yesterday and why I took a photo of my pastel set..

So here is my 'other' pastel set (my main set being Unisons - which tend to be the preserve of the seriously smitten) or rather:
  • the 'in use' set (on the left) which is full of tiny bits which I always aim to wear all the way down rather than chuck, and
  • the 'reserves and spares' set which is the much cleaner set on the right with lots of paper sleeves on display.
The pastels are a combination of a number of different brands, including Schminke, Sennelier and Daler Rowney at the soft end and Rembrandts, Berge and Conte sticks at the harder end of the spectrum. The particular mix of colours I've got reflects my interest in painting landscapes in pastel.

I keep them in a "Pastel Art Bin" (one for each set). This is a very durable carry case with three removable trays. I've found it just the right size in the past for carrying pastels in hand luggage when going on painting trips abroad - although the shape of the pastels means that I always have to pack it at the top as it looks extremely suspicious on the security x-ray machine and usually gets inspected! I always sort my pastels by colour rather than type.

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