Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pastel Demonstration at Wallack's Art on Bank

On May 20th, I attended a FREE demonstration at Wallack's Art on Bank St by artist Janis Miller Hall on Holbein Pastels.

Janis Miller Hall gave a great demo on soft, chalk and oil pastels and substrates.

Janis Miller Hall is a mixed-media artist. Janis studied art at the University of Toronto where she received a bachelor of Art Education and at Sheridan College where she received a Creative Arts Diploma.
Janis' "choices of media include oils, acrylics, pastels and mixed media. She likes to mix traditional painting genres and mediums with contemporary mediums to bring forth a multidimensional quality in her work. Her work can be found in both public and private collections throughout Canada, the US and the Caribbean, including the city of Ottawa's collection." (Source: Figureworks )
Artist Janis Miller Hall
Janis brought two framed samples of her pastel work and brought lots of samples of supports suitable for pastels.

The pastel painting on the right was created using the red suede above.
I purchased pastels (MUNGYO soft pastels and my Gioconda soft pastel pencils) and I have"played" with them but with no real success. I had hoped to use them in mixed media (my mono printing) but lacked any general knowledge about pastels.

I purchased a book on pastels "Creative Painting With Pastel" by Carole Katchen and breezed through the pages and LOVED the art but still felt a little lost.

"Creative Painting With Pastel" by Carole Katchen
 I am so grateful for the clear information that Janis gave us on various types of pastels, health and safety issues, types of supports to paint on and storing and cleaning your pastels that I thought I would share some key points from my notes:


Janis spoke about the three main types of pastels: soft, chalk and oil and later answered questions on pan pastels.

She told us about Holbein pastels. Holbein is a Japanese art supply company that has been making art supplies for over 100 years. Holbein only manufactures artist grade pastels (not student grade) except for the oil pastel.

  • Both soft and chalk pastels are basically pigment and a binder. 
  • The hardness of a pastel is important to note. A general rule is that softer pastels are rolled and square pastels generally indicates that they are in the harder range.
  • When painting with soft pastels, start with a harder pastel and move to the softer pastels.
  • The hardest pastels are generally the pastel pencils.
  • Softer pastels are usually more expensive.
  • Oil pastels were originally developed by Sennelier for Pablo Picasso. (In 1947, artists Henri Goetz and Pablo Picasso approached Henri Sennelier with ... with the help of the two artists, Sennelier invented the first professional oil pastels. ... The unusually wide range of grays were chosen specifically by Picasso. Source: The Oil Pastel Society)
  • Holbien's oil pastels use parafin wax and oil.
  • Oil pastels never dry (unlike oil bars or oil  sticks that have a drying agent so that they will dry) and require special framing.
Pastel Safety 

When working with pastels, you should always wear gloves and NEVER blow on your painting. Take every precaution to not make the pigment airborne and if necessary, wear a mask.

There were a lot of examples of the various supports that can be used for pastel painting:
  • Canson mi-teintes papers  
  • Kitty Wallis sanded paper
  • Matte board with clear gesso
  • Suede or velour boards
  • Grounds: fibre paste, pumice gel, Golden pastel ground, micaceous iron oxide, etc

There were lots of other information shared. Like when you use pastel in a sketchbook, what can you use as a barrier paper to avoid smudging? The answer was glassine paper (or even parchment paper if glassine is not available)

To clean pastels, have a container with white rice and place the pastel and shake gently.

This workshop was very helpful and inspiring and now I am excited to try some small pieces. 

I bought coloured matte board ends from a local framing shop and I will coat with a clear gesso and give it another try!

No comments:

Post a Comment