". Arranged Words: Happy June!

1 Jun 2021

Happy June!

 Hi there, 

Happy June!  June: a beautiful month here in Canada. Yes, we wait for it. It has it all. Beauty, lovely sunny days with soft breezes, and sometimes a frosty night just to keep everyone on their toes. 

I took these sunrise pictures the other morning at 5:00 a.m. with my iPad. Although I wasn't thrilled to be awake that early, sometimes waking up early really pays off.

Tall Tales From the Easel...

Painted on Clairefontaine's Pastelmat paper.

Painted from a photo reference I took a few years ago.

                                           Mostly mid tone to light values pastels on the plate. 
                       All but two are pigment rich Unison soft pastels. I love Unison's colours.

 Today, among other things, what follows will be some general information about pastels because I was asked for information by someone. 

When I started painting, pastels were a medium that I never considered using. Then I noticed a pastel painting that I just loved, and so I thought I'd give them a go. 

What are pastels? Prue pigment with a little binder.

Pastels have a couple of issues: number one they are messy, especially soft pastels, and they shatter if you drop one. (A mat under the easel would help keep shatters to a minimum.) Do I have one? No. I live and learn the hard way it seems. 😅

Some people only clean their soft pastels once or twice a year. I don't know how they manage because pastels get dirty after just one painting. The preferable way to clean them is to immerse them in a covered container with cornmeal, or rice, and give them a shake. For now, I wipe mine gently with shop towels.

Number 2: certain brands have cobalt and cadmiums. I believe Terry Ludwig's and Rembrandt soft pastels are heavy metal free. Although most pastel painters do not, I usually wear gloves. Pastels and acrylic paint dry out my fingers to a point where the skin lifts. (Not a comfortable or a pretty picture.)

Unison, Terry Ludwig, Jack Richeson, Sennelier, and Rembrandt are soft--dare I say chalk--pastels. Although Rembrandt's are harder than the others. They are all expensive. However, if you are just starting out there are cheaper brands. Mungo non-toxic comes to mind.

A lot of artists seem to shy away from Rembrandt pastels but I like them, and they are a bit cheaper than some of the others. I can't remember--for shame--but at a certain time of year most of the brands I mentioned go on sale. It may be November (I keep checking) when the good deals can be had. Mostly, I buy from Jackson's Art because their prices are very good, and the postage, depending on what your preference is, can be very reasonable. ( However, duty, that bane of existence, applies over $100.00)

I've only used oil pastels once so I can't really comment on them. 

                                                        From my memory banks.

I've been using Pastelmat paper hand friendly paper lately. Uart sanded paper is nice too, but it's so hard on the hands. You can blend on Pastelmat easily which some people like and some people do not. To blend on Uart,  a bit of soft pipe covering works well. 

Since neutral colours are also needed, I keep the pastel dust and chips. Although sometimes I can use the chips for precision mark making. (I put a tin foil trap on my easel to collect the dust.) One day I will
grind these down, outside, add water and roll out a neutral pastel or two.

Rule #1 never blow on a painting to get rid of accumulate dusk. You don't want pastel dust in your lungs. Give the painting a gentle tap and the dust will fall into the trap.

I do not use a workable fixative, mainly because I don't like the one I have. No matter how much I shake the can it still leaves spots!
( Rule # 3: Always good to spay outside even it you are using a low odor fixative.)
If you are running out of tooth on your paper, workable fixative works well, although it does darken the painting. You can, of course, cover certain areas and then spray. 
I will try another brand sometime.

(For framing, spacers are used so that any dust falls inside the mat and not on it.)

  FW Ink Purple Lake. What a wonderful rich colour.

Prismacolor Nupastels and the pastel pencils are hard.

I use Nupastel for under paintings and move it about with a fan brush dipped in alcohol.
FW ink also works well for an underpainting too. Not all papers are suitable for a wet wash, but Pastelmat, Uart, and Mi-Teintes Touch take wet washes well. There are others, but, at this time, these are the papers I use.
Why do an underpainting, especially because most of it ends up covered up? It's a roadmap and it gives a certain depth and richness of colour that generally peeks through here and there. I don't always do an underpainting. I may just begin, or make a few guideline marks here and there.

The hard pastels are good for adding detail at the end of a painting too.

Once you begin working with your soft pastels, it's a good idea to use a light touch because many layers go into a painting and you do not want to fill the paper's tooth too early.

I  hope this bit of general information proves useful.
 Give pastels a go.  I believe you will fall hopelessly in love with them!

* * *
Just now, in the woodland, an under carpet of Solomon’s Seal are in bloom. 
Correct me if I am wrong, but early evening seems a good time for taking photos. Just look at the light and shadows.

Wild Honeysuckle

Too bee, or is that 2B? 
Does anyone know what this beautiful little wildflower is?
                                  I am searching for an answer. It seems we must name things.

                                       Irises are spectacular!


Wild violets are a favourite of mine too.

'Til Next Time...

Cultivate Your Dreams

Linking to Link Parties via my link party page. Do drop by for a visit; you will be glad you did.
  Thank you, ladies, for hosting.


  1. Dixie, I found your explanations of the different points on pastels interesting. If I were to give pastels a go this would be an excellent reference. Those sunrises are spectacular; most definitely worth climbing out of bed to witness the show. Love the play of light and shadows in your early evening photo. Your two paintings on the easel are just lovely. And, how nice to see the flowers blooming in your part of the world. Enjoy the loveliness of your June.

  2. Pretty sky, nice paintings ❤

  3. I love your style! It's so bright!
    And the photos are so beautiful! Thank you for sharing them!
    Have a beautiful Summer! ❤️

    1. Hi Suzana,
      I do love colour.
      Thank you.
      You too. Enjoy...the days are lovely now!

  4. Your pastels and photos are beautiful! Sometimes I have to learn things the hard way too! :)

    1. Thank you.
      Sometimes, it seems, the hard way to learn is the only way. :)
      Enjoy the weekend.

  5. I love your art - especially the flower one in the beginning. Having recently retired I find myslef going back and ofrth and re-trying certain things to see if they now fit into my life. Pastels have alwasy intriged me. thanks for the tips.

    1. I hope you give the pastels a try. There are so many beautiful colours to choose from.
      Thank you.

  6. Well you got rewarded quite handsomely for waking up at 5:00am. Gorgeous sunrise. I can see them done in pastel already. I really love the daisy painting. Wonderful summery on pastels, Dixie. I like the idea of collecting the dust and chips for neutral colour.


    1. Thank you, Soma.
      It will be interesting to see what I get for a muted colour. Something very nondescript, I suspect.
      I admire the folks who hand roll each and everyone of these beautiful pastels.

  7. beautiful paintings as always....

    have a wonderful day

  8. Pastels are difficult...and dirty to paint with :)
    You did beautiful work!
    Happy summer!

    1. They are a bit of train wreak mess, but I do love to paint with them.
      Have a fun weekend.

  9. I'm glad you shared your flowers and pictures and method of creating, too :)

    Thanks for sharing your link at 'My Corner of the World' this week!

    1. Thank you and a big thank you for hosting too, Betty.

  10. Beautiful paintings and photos
    Happy PPF


    much love...

  11. Beautiful pastel creations and love that purple ink. Wonderful photos, too. I love watching the sky. Happy PPF, Valerie

    1. Thank you, Valerie.
      Have a lovely weekend.

  12. Beautiful work. I might have to dig out my pastels and try again.

    1. Oh do dig out the pastels!.
      What a wonderful medium they are.
      Thank you.

  13. This is a wonderful post. Your pastel work is gorgeous and thanks for all the info. The photos are great too. Have a very nice day.

    1. What a wonderful day we are having. :) I am about to go out for a walk to admire the
      Many thanks.
      Enjoy a lovely weekend.

  14. Beautiful plants and lovely paintings!

  15. I am not a morning person, but sometimes that is the best time to see wildlife too, so I will do it (occasionally)! I admire your pastels -- based on your description, seems like more than I could manage! Thanks for returning to Mosaic Monday!

  16. ...the skies were a great start and 2B or not 2B is fun.

  17. Thank you, Dixie, for your nice comment...

    ...I enjoyed reading here. And especially your knowledge about the different colours you use. For my artwork I use watercolour, make aquarells with great pleasure.

    Have a wonderful week. Happy Greetings from Augsburg to Canada 🙋🏻‍♀️

  18. Beautiful sunsets and paInting, have a great weekend.

  19. Such a gorgeous pastel piece! I have never tried them. Happy PPF!

  20. Happy June!!
    Beautiful work
    Love it

  21. Interesting post and lovely pictures. I have not tried pastels since high school.


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~ Dixie ❤️