Plein Air Pastel Tip #1


Foto: Astrid Volquardsen 2017

Ahhh, I can hear a sigh of relief from my pastel lovers: finally.

Tomorrow I will be heading towards one of the most beautiful islands Germany has to offer: the islands of Rügen in the far North East. I will be giving a plein air workshop in pastel and I thought this might be the opportunity to share some tips for painting with pastel en plein air.

How to choose a pallet

As pastel artist we need a certain collection of sticks to paint from. I usually advice not to buy the sets offered by different manufacturers but to choose from the open stock. In the end it’s cheaper.

  • Google for some photos of your painting location. Look at the colors at the different seasons. They can vary a lot so choose the colors of the season you’re travelling.
  • I work on the softer end of pastel range, because I like to blend a lot in my first layers. So I have to make sure that I have a supply of Sennelier. On top of that I use Unison or Terry Ludwig .There are artist who prefer the harder range. Just make sure it fits to your paper and painting style.
  • Be aware that you need really dark and light colors.
  • Almost more important are the neutrals colors, with low intensity. Here lies the secret of a good landscape painting. A special blog post on this follows.
  • I don’t take any black/ white colors with me. The sticks I use for the sky are light greens, or yellows or blues. This makes a sky luminance.

Then there is a point where you just have to close your pastel box and hope that you have the right color. And if not? Don’t whine but make the best out of it and find a solution that works.


In the photograph you can see the Heilmann Back pack Box from Heilmann design.

A much cheaper alternative in Europe is offered by Jackson Art supplies: Empty Wooden Pastel Cases.


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5 Responses

  1. Martina Zingler
    | Reply

    Super, Astrid, diese Tipps kommen genau rechtzeitig! Ich will auch unbedingt viel mehr Plein Air malen und grübele gerade über die Ausstattung…

  2. Irini Adler
    | Reply

    Hallo, liebe Astrid,

    jaaaa, ENDLICH wieder etwas über die Pastellmalerei!!! Vielen Dank für die nützlichen Tipps und Hinweise! Wäre so gerne dabei….

    Ich wünsche dir viel Erfolg und eine sehr schöne Zeit auf Rügen! Habe mich noch nicht getraut, Plein Air zu malen.

    Liebe Grüße

  3. Anya Lothrop
    | Reply

    Viel Spaß!!! :-)

  4. Sonia Urriza
    | Reply

    Dear Astrid, I have followed with interest the info on your recent pastel workshop and very helpful tips. I understand you are planning to do one in 2018 in Croatia. Do you have the dates already? Many thanks, Sonia

    • Astrid
      | Reply

      Dear Sonia,
      the dates are from September 15-22 2018.

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