Poppies in Pastels

This is the second week of an online class in pastels, through the local adult school. I had begun the class last spring, a couple of weeks before the pandemic lock down hit California. I got my money refunded, which was good as I’d only had 2 of 8 classes under my belt. This fall, the same school and same teacher are available as a virtual class, using Zoom.

I am not a big fan of online classes that are live simply because I love the real-world interactions of students and teacher. Being able to wander around a classroom, have a conversation or two, discuss things with a teacher in depth (and close up!) when painting are all big, big advantages to a lap top and a poor monitor, as well as limited video capabilities. Still, learning does happen! I just like real life better than virtual. Nonetheless, critiques are possible as are good suggestions, some of which helped my painting out a lot.

That said, it is fun to paint in pastels. Here, the California Poppy Reserve was the subject matter, particularly wonderful after the beautiful, wet spring and “super bloom” we had. I used 400 grit Uart sanded paper, Rembrandt and Nupastels with a bit of charcoal, and sealed it with a Krylon semi-gloss acrylic finish.

Dry Hills in Malibu

Yesterday I started an 8 week course in pastels. Already I am in love with the medium! Add to this, the teacher is a real teacher – she is a professional who teaches full time in an elementary classroom. She is organized, states what she expects, interacts, demonstrates, and all the things that are so important in learning something new. Some teachers just say “have at it” and you stumble along, not knowing what you are doing. Yes, experience is a good teacher, but explanations and clarity really help one understand what is going on. I am looking forward to more classes!

Here is a picture from the Malibu Creek State Park near where I live. We all had a copy of a photograph to use, and then she explained the Rule of Thirds, the Golden Mean, and explained how she changed the composition of the photo to meet the needs of the Rule of Thirds. Value studies, too, were done before even picking up a color.

We used Nupastels, made by Prismacolor. Inexpensive but very nice. I have some Rembrandt soft pastels that I will use later on, or in conjunction with the ones we have in the classroom. As I love colors and drawing, this is a perfect combination of “things” – and these pictures are not “drawings” but “paintings” in the lexicon of the teacher.  I never considered a pastel a painting.

I have not been this excited about a class in a very, very long time.