Drawing in Color - Perspectives from The Artist's Road

Drawing in Color
Perspectives from The Artist’s Road

Anna on Fire Escape, Pastel, 16 x 25", © J.M. Hulsey
Anna on Fire Escape         Pastel         J.M. Hulsey

   When I was a young art student, I was given a set of 48 soft pastels. I had no previous experience with the pastel medium, but I was a big admirer of the work of Odilon Redon and Edgar Degas, so I jumped in with both hands, as it were. I loved to draw, so I took my pastels to life drawing classes and worked in full color, trying to keep up with the short poses of the models. Thankfully, the instructor did not object or caution me and said little as I gradually increased my speed and familiarity with the medium. That was the beginning of my life-long love affair with pastels. Later, when working in New York, I created illustrations in pastels for several books while also creating my own art with them. Over time, I acquired thousands of colors in all hardnesses and several purpose-built plein air easels and boxes which allow me to paint indoors or out, all winter long. I feel fortunate in this because I sometimes tire of working for long periods exclusively in one medium. When I hit that point in my oil work, I switch off to pastel. This practice invigorates both my pastel work and my oil or watercolor work in many ways. Drawing in color seems to utilize a different part of the brain than working with a brush does. Working in dry chalk versus sticky paint works a kind of magic and when I switch back, I bring my newly reignited drawing passions into that work. Sometimes I use pastel within watercolor, or draw with oil pastels on my oil paintings. I can’t imagine making art any other way.

   The history of art is filled with exciting pastel paintings by the masters of the medium. Look at the originals by Marie Cassatt or Edgar Degas and you will be thrilled to find the evidence of their hands in the strokes of pigment there, still looking as fresh as the moment they were made—no fading or yellowing varnish to obscure their colors! Pastels are nothing more than pure pigment held together with just enough adhesive to form a stick. They are pure artistic possibility and joy—no previous experience required! They almost cry out to be touched and rubbed into the surface. Take a brush full of water or alcohol and splash it across a drawing. Watch the pigments dissolve and run into each other as they create a new image. Best of all, they work fast, so one can speedily grab a fading sunset or fidgety figure pose. For that reason, pastels are as perfect for studies and preliminary work as they are for finished exhibition works. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we explore the world of pastel from the historic to the contemporary—an artistic feast!

Copyright Hulsey Trusty Designs, L.L.C. (except where noted). All rights reserved.
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A Primer on Night Painting - Nocturnes

Nocturnes - A Primer on Night Painting

Filled with inspirational examples by the masters of nightime painting, this little book is sure to fire up your creative energies. Never tried painting at night? We show you how it's done with a step-by-step-oil demo and a tale of night painting in the wilds of Rocky Mountain National Park. The Primer on Night Painting - Nocturnes is a 7 x 7" PDF download with 40 pages of text and images. It includes a gallery of paintings by masters of the nocturne, information to inspire and encourage you in your plein air nocturne painting, an illustrated step-by-step demo and tips for working in pastel and oil. Also available in a softcover edition. Check out the tools and other products that we use in our own art and travels in The Artist's Road Store. We only offer things for sale that we enthusiastically believe in.







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Photograph of John Hulsey and Ann Trusty in Glacier National Park
We are artists, authors and teachers with over 40 years of experience in painting the world's beautiful places. We created The Artist's Road in order to share our knowledge and experiences with you, and create a community of like-minded individuals.  You can learn more about us and see our original paintings by clicking on the links below.
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