A New Passion: Pastels

It’s always exciting to discover something you’ve never done before and to find out that you love it. Five months ago I took a weekend workshop with master pastel artist, David Shklolny, one of the presenters for the ISEA (International Society of Experimental Artists) conference for which I volunteered as a committee member. I can’t say what I came up with was any good but somehow, the resulting texture and richness of the soft pastel sticks against the sanded paper hooked me – and I haven’t looked back.

Thankfully, there are many videos available online and many are free, which is helpful when you are just learning how to manipulate the materials and learn what they can (and can’t) do. Buying artist – grade pastels and sanded papers isn’t cheap, but then, professional products are worth the price for their consistency, richness of colour and light-fastness. 

Landscapes are my subject of choice  – at least for now. I am partial to the rough, painterly effect you get with soft pastels on a rough textured paper. The first image is of canola fields in Saskatchewan, where I was born. It doesn’t matter how dull the sky is, the canola fields glow with an acidic greenish-gold colour that’s almost painful to look at. The second image was done from a photograph. As a beginner, I don’t get too fussy with the images – they just need to stir something in my soul – rather like a love affair that has just begun.

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