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  1. Hello, Dot! I suspect you might be getting a lot of correspondence, having had the article in today’s Sunday News. It certainly caught my attention. I am an artist living in Millersville, having just retired from Serta Mattress Co. after 40 years (of hard labor!). Since 2008, I’ve been full throttle on a passion of mine: drawing faces. Until I retired, it was every Friday and Saturday night in the studio. A portrait would usually take 5-6 weekends to complete. Currently, portraits I’ve done of John Lennon and George Harrison are displayed in the lobby of The Mulberry Art Studio, during this month of the Fab4!:Beatlemania show. I had just finished John over the Holidays, when I saw that the show was coming. I appreciated April offering to show them in the lobby, for I’m just “emerging.” My love is graphite. All my life I had admired black and white photography – especially portraiture. I go for extreme detail… sharpening my pencil every 60 secs. it seems. And I also love the blending quality of graphite. It is the characteristic of graphite I wish I could get in a color medium. Colored pencil, as you know, is wax based and will not blend as graphite. Layering and cross-hatching is really the only way to transition. Ah, but, I have collected various sets to experiment with. Graphitint is a new one, I’m still waiting to explore. But… I recently bought a full set of pastel pencils. For years, I’ve had a rather large set of soft pastels, and I want to try to use them together. The pencils don’t get the point I want… but, that is simply the nature of the medium I’ll have to learn to live with. I’ll need to become more of an “expressionist,” I suspect! I have work ahead, doing babies – always a crowd-pleaser, aren’t they?! But, I’m determined to work at learning the art of pastel. I would like to come out and see you working at the gallery one day. What times are you there?? I’m especially interested in seeing just how fine a line one is able to achieve with a block of pastel. I will go to your email address and attach several of my drawings to let you see what I’ve been doing. I absolutely love your landscapes. I’m fascinated by one’s ability to use multiple colors, layering and leaving a lower stroke visible. I don’t know if there is a technique to get a more refined look on the portraits, though. That may be my toughest challenge: letting go of my need for realism! Keep up the great work, and I do hope to meet you soon!

    • dstepenaski

      October 11, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      Hi Jim, Sorry for replying so late, it’s been a heck of a summer. The LCAA Downtown has just closed, sales are tough. Since you are very new to pastels, I would suggest watching some of the YouTube tutorials on pastels. There are some very good ones. You do have a very good basis working in b&w, but transferring that knowledge to working in pastels can be confusing because you can’t truly mix colors. You need to have value changes within the color (think one yellow pastel for light, another for medium and the last in the dark range). There are good classes at the Lancaster County Art Association. Pastel Journal is a good magazine for seeing different artists styles. You can get very realistic with pastels, just don’t work too small. The sanded papers are the best and will cause less frustration. Hope this helps, best of luck!

  2. Hi Dot.
    I recently registered for your class at PCAD and wanted to double check if the pastels I currently have would be ok for the course.
    I have a small set of Grumbacher Portrait soft pastels as well as a Sennelier Landscape set of 70 soft half sticks.
    Do you recommend purchasing any other colors?

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