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"Don’t aspire to be a technician. Aspire to be an artist!" by Marsha Savage

"Water Power"

I love pastels because of the immediacy of working with them. Choosing the right colors, the right value, and the right temperature is hard work and also fun. But how many artists are successful 100% of the time?   

Painting with pastel is like picking up a piece of candy. We just know we have chosen correctly! Putting those marks where you think they need to be seems like it would be so easy. Learning to use pastels is about mark making and layering, but also about choosing wisely. Hopefully before starting a painting you have made a plan 'of some kind with regard to shapes, proportions and values. But beyond that, plan to have some fun with those colors!

Choosing wisely is what we should plan to do, but going with the flow and “happy” accidents is the more likely scenario! It takes courage to make a plan and then see it go not so well, but keep on forging ahead! Courage is more important than confidence. You must be willing to take a risk no matter the outcome.

I tell my students all the time, “make all the mistakes," and “if you are not willing to make mistakes, you will never come up with anything creative.” Don’t copy another artist’s style, but you can duplicate it to learn. Then you will need to somehow incorporate it into your own feelings and visualize what if!

What if? Do you see where I am going with this? What if you try something you saw, but change it by using your own feelings and experiment with it? What if is a wonderful jumping off point to keep you learning! Remember to use "what if!"


This is what an “artist” does! An artist sees something and then adds their own ideas and feelings to it. It might work, it might not. But you learn more by making the mistakes than by doing something correct the first time. You will be learning faster than if you just mimic someone else’s success.

All the above are the things I love about painting in pastel. I am always learning and having fun when brushing off and trying again, pulling an image out of the chaos I have created at times. Way more fun than placing a perfect stroke. Who can do that anyway, right?

A good exercise is to paint with a limited palette of 12 pastel sticks and a black and a white. I rarely use black or white, but for this exercise it is almost a must. Choose a warm and a cool of the six colors on the color wheel. You must also decide which ones to have in a light, middle light, middle dark and dark value. The black and the white will help with being able to change a value you don’t have. Have fun with this exercise. You might be surprised at the ease of doing this after a few tries." Marsha Savage is professional Fine Artist, painting in pastel, oil and acrylic. Landscapes are my passion and scenes are local and from my travels all over the US, France, Ireland and Jamaica.

Marsha Savage kindly agreed to be the judge of our upcoming online Show. Details and prospectus are coming! Stay tuned!

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