You know I’m always on about the benefits of limiting your palette. When you’re starting out in pastels, the choice (and price!) of soft pastels can be overwhelming so I always suggest beginning with a small set of quality soft pastels. Play around with that set, get to know what the pastels in a limited palette can do, and then start adding sticks as you find your way. Starter sets are definitely not going to have an ideal range of colours and values but they are a good place to start. So I thought I’d practice what I preach and show you a number of pieces created using only the pastels from the Best Loved Basics set from Terry Ludwig.
There are 14 pastels in the set and some are more muted than I would normally choose to use. Reviewing the set, there are three blues varying in values from mid-value to light. Lovely! But there’s no dark blue. There are two greens both on the olive-y side – one dark and one mid-value. There’s an ochre colour but no pure yellow. There’s a lovely red, a peach, and an orange-y earthy colour. There’s also a very light creamy colour and a light mauve-y grey. And finally, there’s a warm dark beige-y colour which I think I’ve only used once.
Here’s the colour range shown on Canson Mi-Teintes paper:
Let’s look at the set in terms of values and then temperature.
Over October, I’ve been participating in the 31 pastels in 31 days challenge (read more about it here and join us in the Facebook group to see how everyone’s doing!). When pressed for time, I’ve done small pieces, mostly using this set of pastels to challenge myself despite the time crunch. I want to show you those pieces to see what can be done. They’re all done from life.
Let’s have a look:
I also have two video demos that I’ll place below. Since they are also both still life, I decided to show that it’s possible to use this set by Terry Ludwig to do a landscape. So yesterday, quickly working from a photo (a challenge for me as I much prefer working from life!), I painted a small section of the Pont du Gard in France.
Certainly it was a challenge painting the aqueduct using only this very limited palette but I wanted to show that with layering and looking and being open to not simply copying what’s there, you can still create pastel paintings with very few pastels!
While working on this post, I also remembered I’d tried a self-portrait last year when I first received these pastels by Terry Ludwig. It’s not perfect but I’m pretty amazed that I only used pastels from this set!
Working on pieces with the constraint of a limited palette may not be what you would have imagined doing but it will certainly expand your technique and your understanding of colour and value. The trick is in having a light touch and in layering!
Here’s a photo taken of the 14 pastels with various colours layered over others randomly (but attempting to keep close to a similar value). I hope it shows you the possibilities!
And here are the demo videos as seen on YouTube (the plum demo I just uploaded today):
(You can read a bit more about the creation of this pastel here.)
(You can see more on this pastel here.)
So I challenge you!
Do you have a small set of pastels? Why not try a few pieces only using those pastels? Make sure the pastels are sorted into values – that’s the most important thing to do to set yourself up for some success.
Let me know how it goes!!
Until next time,
PS. Today is International Artists Day. Did you do something to celebrate it??