Prismacolor’s NuPastels

When I first learned I would be using pastels in class that I took a few weeks ago, I had no clue what they were.  I knew they were sticks of colors.  I also knew my Hubby had used them years ago.  I never held one in my hand.

So off I go to do some research on the Internet.  I found glowing reviews for really EXPENSIVE soft pastels (e.g. Unison, Sennelier, and Schmincke).  Then I realized there were different types of pastels:  soft, soft-medium, and hard.  I was looking for a set of colors to start with.  I came across NuPastels (Prismacolor), which are considered hard pastels and the reviews were really good.  Less dust and less breakage or crumble.   I found a set of 24 at a great price.

Here’s the set I started with:


I love that each pastel stick has its own place.  It’s soft gray foam that’s holding the pastels and preventing them from breakage when shipping.  As you can see it’s quite useful for storage as well.

I painted a few practice paintings over several weeks and realized 24 colors were not enough.  So what did I do?  Expanded my color range.  Here’s my new addition:


Can you count all the colors?  There’s 96 colors.  I had to test all the colors and created a color swatch which covered two pieces of 9″x12″ paper.   These were small swatches!



Now, I’ve read where pastel artists have several different brands of pastels as well as different types (soft and hard).  I’ve learned they use the NuPastels for their first layer where they draw/sketch the initial painting.  For the next layers they use the soft-medium pastels.  The final layers they use the expensive soft pastels.

Eventually, I will get there.  Add the Unison or Sennelier pastels to my collection.  In the meantime, I’m very happy using NuPastels for my artwork:

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My Favorite Pastel Book

Taking art classes was a big help in getting my art mojo back.  It came back in a big way.  I added new art medium to my expanding art supply collection.  I found new favorites and confirmed non-favorites.

So I’m now in a lull with knowledge and can’t spend all my waking hours on the Internet.  What do I do?

I found a really good pastel book:


Can I say it’s beautifully written?  It is.  It’s also very informative.  It has good explanations and wonderful samples of the painting processes and techniques.  There’s a variety of subjects it tackles and presents the steps to completing a painting.

This is a book you don’t want to rush through.  Right now, I’m studying Light and Shadows (pages 54-57) and will more than likely re-reading this section for the next several days.

I’m also taking notes from this book.  I have a notebook that I keep for tips and tricks that I uncover as well as the best art medium, best papers, and techniques.

This book “All About Techniques in Pastel” is a definite keeper and I am glad I bought it in hardback format as I will be keeping it next to my easel.

Now, if I can just find a good one on oil painting….

My Pastel Painting Project: Bucket, Bottle, & Glass

I had a grandiose idea to try to do a drawing/painting each evening for the month of August.  So far, it’s not happening.  Summer activities got in the way and since there were no classes in my queue for this month, my motivation has dwindled.  So I decided to make efficient use of my time during the evenings and look through my pictures (thousands of them) and print the ones I wanted to recreate on paper or canvas.  Several 5×7 packs of paper and ink later, I have a nice collection.

A few weekends ago I had the chance to start a painting.  Well, I started a sketch/outline from one of my pictures.  It was a picture I took at a winery where they placed a bottle of wine in a brightly colored beach pail/bucket.  Naturally, I had to take a picture.  Here’s my pencil sketch:



I painted the first few layers of the bucket and then let the painting sit on my easel.  I would walk by it in the evenings and waited for some sort of inspiration to take over me. I really liked how the shovel came out:


Eventually my motivation came back and I painted in the bottle.  Then I realized that I should have painted the backgrounds first.  That was a suggestion I learned from my last class.  Paint in the dark values and then the background.  So I shifted gears and painted a rough background.  Hmmm.  Did not turn out as I expected:


So my painting sat on my easel and once again I continued to walk by it.  I decided I needed some inspiration.  I spent some time on the Internet looking at other artist’s pastel paintings.  Some were very realistic with lots of details (completed in 80-90) hours and others were loosely painted gestures (6-8 hours).  I also read many artists would paint practice pieces.  The key word was practice.

Today, I sat down in front of my easel and started to paint.  There was no pressure.  No schedule or errands to run.  It did not take long for me to get into my creative groove.   More than likely because I did not think too much about what I was doing.  A few hours later this is what I had accomplished:


I did light layers of color as I knew I would be building up the colors or in some areas changed my mind.  I did a lot of blending as I like having a softer painting effect versus harsh lines of colors.

I was so happy to be painting again that I forgot to take a break and get up and look at my work.  It wasn’t until I took the picture that I noticed the “not quite right” issues.  I’ll tackle those issues another day as I’m thinking too much about them right now.

I need to create a painting or signage for my new art mottos:  “Painting is very good!”,  “Just Paint It!” and “Think less and paint more!”

Art Medium:  NuPastels by Prismacolor on 11″ x 14″ – Premium Toned Artist Paper by Global Art

Color Explorations Class – Working with Pastels

For tonight’s class we are working with pastels.  We were given a plate of different color pastels.  The basic colors of blue, green, red, yellow, orange, white, and brown.  

We were given pastel paper with our drawing already traced.  The art center had interns helping out and so they traced our drawings for us.  The paper we used had a bit of grit on the surface.  Yes, reminded me of fine sand paper.  The rough surface will hold the pastel on the paper.  

The pastels I used were a bit student-grade quality.  They were also very hard.  My finger blending skills did not work well tonight plus the gritty paper was making my fingers a bit tender.  

My artwork is just so-so.  I know it could be better:  


You can definitely see a huge difference and style from my previous pastel drawing of champagne glass and cork and this pepper drawing.

My take away from class:  always use artist grade supplies and there will be less frustration.  

Paper used:  unknown mfg of gritted pastel paper (8″ x 10″)

Colorful Art: Pastels

For the past three months, I have been experimenting with different art mediums.  I would not have been able to do that without the help of the classes offered at my local art center.  I was able to dabble in graphite, charcoal, colored pencils, more charcoal and expanding my knowledge, acrylic painting on lotus leaves, oil painting, and pastels.  That is a lot of experimentation in a short amount of time.

I enjoy working with colors and mixing basic paint colors.  There is something soothing about creating new colors on a palette or plate.  While I like to paint, it is not my favorite medium.  For me it takes too long to setup or prep my painting area.  I am using a temporary space within my home as I have not carved out a studio area.

My past experience has been when I am ready to draw, I need to start quickly.  Grab my paper and graphites and start my creativity.   It is all about keeping the momentum going.  Oh and not think about it too much.  Just Do It!

This leads me to the topic of my post.  Colorful Art.  As in Pastels.  I think I found my favorite art medium.   How could I tell?  It’s that feeling I get when the right side of my brain tells my hand to go with it.  Be creative.  Draw what I see.  Don’t think.  Be fearless.

As you already know I like drawing from my photographs (since I own the copyright) and since I am intrigued with glassware, I thought why not draw something I like.  I knew which picture would be a good challenge for me.

I applied the pastels on paper and created this:


I was taken back at what I created.  Kind of like having a “wow” moment to myself.  That was when I knew I found my favorite medium.

Here’s the next stage of the drawing where I laid down the background colors:


I need to do better in my previous posts and provide a picture of what I am drawing from.  Here’s my work in progress (with included source picture):


Once I finish this drawing, I will be back and post the final pictures.  I will also be providing a review/post of the pastel I used.  Stay tuned!

Paper used:  Kona toned paper (11″ x 14″)

Playing with Pastels

I think I have found a new art medium that is just as much fun as drawing with graphite.  I was looking for another art medium where I can work with colors.  Something that I could cover the large areas of paper.  Quickly and easily.  PASTELS!

I was looking online and found an inexpensive set of pastels.  I am a person who firmly believes “you get what you paid for”, but I found a really good deal on a set of 24 Prismacolor Nupastel sticks for under $12.

So, I gave them a try.  All I can say is Wow!


I worked on layering the colors.  I actually went from light to dark values on this apple and then applied some white for the highlights.


Does this look familiar?


Remember I had taken a picture of a still life from class (drawing explorations)?   I have been using it when I practice with different art mediums.

I had an enjoyable time using the Nupastels.  More to come!

Paper used:  Kona toned paper (11″ x 14″)