I've been using pastels on and off for more than 35 years. The beauty of the medium increases and overwhelms me each time I develop a new technique within a new image. Along the way, I have strived to learn all I can about all the technical aspects of pastel, as well as the historical. My driving force was to remain free from any toxic nature due to an auto-immune disorder, followed by being in complete control of the colors.
When I first became interested in pastel making, there wasn't much information available, so I began a long process of trial and error that continues today. Fortunately, my kitchen made pastels have become something I would choose over any other. To date, my palette consists of around 92 colors.
Why make my own?
The strength of pastel as a painting medium is its rich, unsurpassed color. For an artist of any type, color is critical. For me….absolutely essential to my success in my own mind. When I received my first gift set of 100 pastels, I quickly set to work. Within a short period of time, a pattern became noticeable as I burned through my pastels. About a third of the pastels I used very heavily, and they were beginning to disappear. Another third received much less use, and the remaining third I had never used! In speaking to other pastel artists, I found this pattern was common.
So we attack this problem using several strategies. We either buy many sets to build up an impressive and expensive array of colors, or we mix and match different brands, taking advantage of strengths in each manufacturer's palette.
I went in another direction. Why not design my own palette where every stick was a color I would use and enjoy, and the pastels themselves had the qualities I wanted to best express my style of painting? In addition to this, why not be completely organic, natural, green, and healthy?