Posted in color, pastel painting

Pastel ColorPlay Project!

Hello fellow creative people!  

Lately, I have been longing for something that has felt just out of reach. Maybe it’s the slow, long winter setting in, but I have sensed within myself a need to stretch out of the cocoon I’ve been living in, and take more chances artistically.

As a result, today I set off on a new leg of my artistic journey and started a new series of paintings.

I’m calling this series: PASTEL COLORPLAY PROJECT!

Now as an artist, I love color.  Notice the updated look to this blog?  More color!  

I love making color charts, mixing colors, and even just gazing at all my colorful pastels lined up neatly ready for action.  (Yes, I was one of those kids who longingly drooled over the Crayola 64 crayon box…you know, the one with all the COLORS)


But I will tell you a secret……

As much as I love looking at color, I am also afraid of it!  

     Yes, I said AFRAID, SKEERED, NERVOUS, LEERY, however you want to define it.  

     Well, not so much afraid as in “Eek, here comes that RED crayon!!!!”,

                but more like, 

      “Okay, sky is BLUE, grass is GREEN, but I feel kinda trapped and I’m not sure how to paint any differently.”


And here is another secret…..I’m not the only one!  Artists study color theory, entire books are written about color, and classes abound focusing on this singular subject.  

So, how to grow into the artist I desire to be–one who is more confident with color?

In comes my inspiration: Karen Margulis of Painting My World.  Several years ago she started a series of paintings to explore color and then posted them to her blog.  If you go to her blog and type in “variations” in the search box, it will bring up some of the posts she did for her series.

But back to me and my project.  

First, I had to set some parameters, ground rules if you will, to help me be successful. 


1. Keep it Small!

I am choosing to work in a 6×8 vertical format.  I usually work at 9×12 or larger, so this in itself will be challenging for me; however, it is important that I not labor unnecessarily over each piece trying to make it “frameable”.  Keeping it small would also let me keep things looser, less detailed.  Finally, this size will help me get over the nagging myth I am wasting paper.

 2. Use a Variety of Pastel Papers

This would include some old favorites (Uart 400, Fisher 400, and Canson Touch), but I would also finally use some of the other papers I’ve had sitting around for one reason or another (Pastel Premier, Uart Dark 500, Canson Mi-Teintes, Clairfontaine Pastelmat).  

3. Preselect the Color Scheme & Palette

I would start every painting by first choosing my color scheme, and then selecting a limited palette of 3 hues (sometimes 4 if doing a tetradic scheme) and allowing myself up to 5 values of each of the chosen hues.

4. Keep the Intention of the Project at the Forefront

This is important.  I want to study color, not make perfect pieces, or pieces for sale or framing, necessarily.  Also, it is important to me that this be fun!  This is intended as PLAY TIME.  Hopefully, I will end up learning a ton, and maybe even surprising myself a few times along the way 🙂  

5. Anything Goes Technique-Wise

In other words, if I feel like doing a watercolor underpainting, I’ll do it.  If I want to tone the paper first, I’ll do it.  If I want to just jump right in with pastel and no drawing, I’ll do that.  Whatever it takes to get the pastel to paper in a way that helps me learn (even learn what NOT to do,) I’ll do it!

6. Be Organized About All This Creativity

I’ve chosen my reference and gathered my color wheels, created my thumbnail sketches, cut my papers to size, planned to log/blog about the different color schemes and the results, and will store the finished studies in clear bags with a foam backing board for easy storage and viewing.


Coming Soon: ColorPlay Study #1  

(Hint: Here is a sneak peek at the palette I chose for the first painting.  Can you guess what color scheme I used?)




Rhonda is an artist, violinist, mountain dulcimer player, composer/arranger, homeschool mom, and chicken/goat farmer. To purchase her fine art, visit

6 thoughts on “Pastel ColorPlay Project!

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