Organizing Pastels: Homemade Studio Solution!

My darling husband bought me a new set of Terry Ludwig soft pastels for Christmas–YAY!

The problem: I have outgrown my Heilman Backpacker pastel box and had no where to put these lovely new pastels–BOO!

The solution: Create my own studio storage tray!

Before I set off to the local craft store for supplies, I did some brainstorming.  I decided that I HATE working out of individual sets and boxes of pastels.  I like having all of my pastels together and within easy reach as I sit and paint.  I knew I would not be picking this box up or moving it, so it didn’t need to fold up or close snugly.  However, I did want my pastels to be covered to protect them from dust, bugs, etc.

Also, I needed more ROOM!  If you have worked with pastels, then you know that you never have enough colors 😉

So off to the craft store…..

I came up with these  12×16 inch wood painting panels from Hobby Lobby!

Turn them over and they are a neat lightweight box that can be lined with memory foam or foam sheets cut to shape.  I decided to join three boxes together using little brass mending plates found at any hardware store.

Next, I found some lightweight craft wood panels that I cut to size and then lined with foam sheets to serve as protective covers when not using my pastels.

If I ever need to move these boxes, I would first unscrew the mending plate connectors and support each box from underneath, as they are not really meant to hold weight.  I use my tray/box on a piano bench, but in a house with young children or very active pets, you might want a more secure location for this type of set-up.  You might also consider adding some sort of closure to keep the lids secure, but this works great for me.

Now my Heilman box is freed up for plein air use, and I have all my sticks where I want them 🙂  

More about how I organized my pastels in my next post!

I hope this helps someone who is looking for ideas about how to create an inexpensive, attractive, functional pastel studio tray.  Enjoy!

Pastel Painting: The Daisy Show

The Daisy Show 8×8 pastel on sanded paper


Hello again fellow creatives!  

I would like to share one of my latest pastel paintings inspired by the kinds of summer flowers we enjoy here at our farm in Indiana.  I am including process photos.

As I get ready for winter to set in (it is early December and boy, don’t I feel blessed to have had such nice weather up till now), I can look over at my wall where this painting is hanging and fondly remember balmier times!

As a side, I am also trying out a new (for me) blog editor: BlogPad Pro.  It is free at the App Store, and I have to say, so far it has been a joy to use!!  

Now onto the post!


Loose Sketch-in

So the first thing I did was to loosely sketch my composition.  Nothing too detailed, just the main placement of the larger flowers.


My next step was to do a loose watercolor underpainting.  The Uart paper handles watercolor washes very well.  No buckling or coming untaped  from the support.  You can see I used lots of violet to complement all the green I knew I would be applying later. 

Choosing Palette & Blocking In Background

Below are the pastels I believed would be useful in this painting, though I added more as the painting went on!  
To the right is my reference inspiration.  You can see I was not being literal with the photo.

Blocking In the Flowers

This step taught me to be grateful for the selection of colors in my “Garden” set of Jack Richeson Hand Rolled soft pastels!

Refining Local Color

Below you can see that the lower daisy has been developed more than the upper one.

Adjusting Flower Shapes & Color

I didn’t like the shapes of the nearest yellow flowers, so I adjusted them to look less regular.

Final Adjustments & Framing!

My final steps were to add some small flicks of yellow-orange to help break up the background.
Then I decided to frame this painting in a rustic barn wood frame, unmatted, using spacers between the glass and pastel.
I hope you enjoyed this post!  
Let me know in the comments what you are working on, and I will try to check out your blog.
Now, go get creative! 😉



New Easel, Pastels, & Studio Space!

Hello fellow creatives! I have been hard at work in in my studio and finally finished a pastel painting I have been wanting to do since summer.

More about that in my next post….

Meantime, I have recently reorganized my little corner studio space–partly because it was getting a bit cluttered, and partly because I was forced to!

You see, I own a fabulous Heilman Backpacker pastel box which I have always used on a sturdy photo tripod. For pastel works, I painted by placing my paper (taped to foamcore) onto the Heilman aluminum easel which is mounted in a specially drilled hole inside the box.

This set-up worked pretty well for me for pastels, but felt limiting for use with other mediums. For example, I would not consider doing a splashy watercolor on this easel because the easel has no angle adjustment.

Well, my tripod finally gave up under the strain, I suppose, of the box’s weight and my usage. So……


I was amazed at how much more free I have felt while painting on a floor easel! I modified it to accept a paper towel holder for wiping pastels on. I also have clipped on a tablet holder and two lamps with daylight bulbs. While I generally am seated when I paint, this easel adjusts to allow me to stand and paint. It also has a nice tilt feature so that I can lay a canvas flat for watercolor, or bring it to vertical or past vertical for pastel painting.

On the other side of my studio area I have a desk for drawing, blogging, etc. The cabinet holds many of my art supplies.

Speaking of art supplies, here is a photo of a brand of soft pastels that were new to me until a few months ago. They are Jack Richeson Soft Handrolled Pastels, “Garden” set of 80.

I absolutely love these pastels! They are about the softness of Unison soft pastels, in my opinion. I have not used them for wet underpainting yet, so don’t know how they do there, but I really enjoyed using these in my most recent work and found myself reaching for them along with my Unisons.

And just look at those colors!!!

Here is a photo of my current pastels. As I add colors, I find that I am moving away from harder pastels like Rembrandts to the softer Unisons, Terry Ludwigs, and Schminckes. Though I do use harder pastels for varied purposes.

Well, that’s it for now! I will be posting more recent works soon including some charcoal studies and more pastel pieces.

Thanks for visiting my blog!