Maryland Pastel Society newsletter


Fall General Meeting with Terry Ludwig

Fall General Meeting with Terry Ludwig

Rapt Attention!

Terry Ludwig’s Demo

The painting demonstration that Terry Ludwig gave us at our Fall meeting in September was one of the best we’ve had in a while. To be honest, he did not get a whole lot of painting done, but that was because he spent a lot of time answering the members’ many questions about his pastels and processes and making us all laugh. What a hoot! The mood was set when someone asked him – once he’d gotten set up and was starting to work – what brand of pastels he typically used. (Who was that?)

Terry says it was Lorenzo Chavez who got him started with pastels, and that once he tried them, he was hooked. However, he soon realized that he could not find or replicate in pastels all the many color choices he’d had available to him by mixing oil paints. He showed us the mixed color charts he’d created as a student, and said that those became the impetus for his making his own line of pastels.

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Terry and the Toothbrush

Back to the demo! Like many successful artists, Terry starts with a notan, a simple thumbnail value sketch based on his subject that helps him make good decisions about the composition.  Next, he lightly creates a 9-square grid on his surface (usually UArt - formerly Ersta - sanded paper) to identify a spot where he’ll place his focal point.  Using the notan for his reference, he indicates very simply the areas of the main masses and then jumps right in with broad strokes of pastel to get the surface covered. He works this initial layer of color into the paper with water, alcohol, or Turpenoid, or he may decide just to rub it into the surface using short lengths of foam pipe insulation, available at any hardware store. Once that layer is complete and dry, he begins to build his image, paying particularly close attention to contrasts of color value, temperature, and intensity, and using negative space to define positive space. He showed us a technique for creating tiny points of color, similar to a method used by “wet” media painters. He shaved off a little white pastel, mixed in a bit of water to make a paste, dipped a toothbrush in the paste, and then ran his thumb over the toothbrush bristles to splatter the painting surface with little spots of white. Another tip: he uses drywall sandpaper, also available at any hardware store, to sand down broken pastels or reestablish an edge.
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Terry Reevalutates

Examining his set-up at the break, we were all very taken with the really small versions of the standard rectangular-shaped Ludwig pastels that Terry had loaded into his Heilman backpack-sized box – they were the perfect size for plein air! He said that he does not sell these – he claims he has an “in” with the manufacturer and gets these smaller pastels as seconds.  Terry Ludwig Pastels has an annual sale where seconds can be purchased, but it’s held in his manufacturing facility, and you have to go to Colorado to get them. Might be worth the trip…

Also during his demo he gave us his recommended process for reconstituting pastels from ends and broken bits -- even from the dust generated when painting (which you can collect by placing a trough of tin-foil underneath your painting when it’s on the easel). His method: start by pouring some distilled water onto a paper towel. Make sure you put the dampened paper towel onto a surface that will not stain and then place the pastel bits on the paper towel. Leave them there for 5 minutes or so, while they absorb the distilled water. Once the water’s been soaked up, use a palette knife to break up any lumps of dry pastel and make sure the consistency is smooth. Now take a dry paper towel, place it over the paste, and press, twist, and squeeze the paste between the two paper towels to remove excess dampness, eliminate bubbles, and form the stick. You can also use a cake server (not a good one!) with a little water on it for lubrication to press down on the paste to get the bubbles out and to cut the damp stick into sections. Once that’s done, roll the sticks onto a plastic surface – Terry recommends using the plastic bags you get at grocery stores – and leave them overnight to dry. To see whether a stick is dry, place it against your cheek (the one on your face): if the stick feels cool, it’s still wet. You will want to wash your face after that…

To sum up, it was a very successful demo, indeed, and most all of us were also able to purchase the pastels Terry brought with him, at a 20% discount (thank you, Terry!) or to order pastels for later shipment (free shipping!).  Great meeting!