Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Michael Chesley Johnson - Extreme Limited Pastel Palette

Pastel students sometimes complain about having to lug 200-plus pastels out into the field. When this happens, I have them do my "extreme limited pastel palette" exercise. We go through their pastels and pick out 14 sticks - a cool and a warm version of each of the three primaries and three secondaries, plus black and white - and then they use them to do a painting! The results can be surprisingly good. You really can mix just about every color you need.

I will confess, though, that you have to work hard at it, and not always do you get the exact neutrals or vibrant hues you'd like. But, you'll come very close! And it's refreshing to carry into the field just a pocket full of pastels rather than the whole store.

Here's a small piece I did with the extreme limited palette:

"Sail Rock Shadows"
pastel, 5x7

By the way, there's still room in my weeklong, pastel-only plein air workshop at the end of March. Contact the Sedona Arts Center to register. Spring is happening, and we'll have some really nice spring foliage to paint!

- Michael Chesley Johnson,

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