Ever cut a loaf of bread with a spoon?

No, of course not. But for a while I was trying to cut these lovely fresh loaves of bread from my local farmers market with a steak knife or butter knife. Or just about anything I had in my drawer. Then I got smart and bought a lovely, heavy-duty bread knife with the proper serrated edge.

Nice!  Rather than wrestle my poor loaf into submission, I had a handy, dandy tool made just for this job.

And it got me thinking….this is what happens sometimes as artists- we don’t know how easy our life could be if we just had the right tools. Last weekend I taught a portrait class on Light and Color for the Pastel Society of America.  It is so much fun to take a handful of artists from across the country (and Canada!) and get them to see their tools-  their pastels – in a whole new light.  And with a little understanding through a lot of long-winded instruction from me, a bit of a paradigm shift happens and artists start to think about their pastels differently.  Then those tools fit the task. And everyone can benefit from learning something new.  Even someone at the pinnacle of their career and on the edge of retirement sometimes has to take a class in order to spark some new ideas and then be on a mission to learn something new.

I have talked in the past about how some pastels act differently than others. How depending on what you want to do in an image or what your intentions are, there must be a shift in what to grab and apply…

For example, if you want to bring focus in the eyes of a portrait you better be using the right pastels. If you want a tree in the background of an image to be in a supporting role to your focus of the red barn, you better grab something that lets that happen… and layering?  Well, using brands that let you do that will eliminate headaches.

Don’t use a spoon when a knife is called for.

Sometimes pastel artists struggle with what color?  What stick? What mark?  A little bit of knowledge goes a long way. Then you can just slice through your project more easily.

I’ll be teaching again in my hometown of Sewickley, PA on May 14 and 15th and again in Sante Fe, New Mexico on June 27 and 28th at the new BlueBIrd Studios. I hope you can join me for either of these live, in-person workshops (yay!) with live models so I can show ya which tools to use for which job….. or, which pastel stick to weld.

If interested in either of these classes, registration info is on the workshop page here on my site or you can send me an email.  [email protected]

Hope to see ya soon. I’m going to go make a sandwich now.  Till next week….


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