I have to confess that up to this acquisition I was not a fan of soft pastels - too messy and I didn't really know what I was to do with them after a lifetime of mixing paint on a palette, but since I have been working extensively with coloured pencils I have learned a thing or 2. It took me a couple of hours to clean them all - I started with a good shake in a tub of rice but that didn't seem to see much results when they were sooooo dirty, so I ended up wiping each one down with a paper towel. I have no idea what brand or what quality they are, some are harder than others, some are very soft and smooth but for starting out and having some fun they are all that I need.
What I need now is some reference material to work from...almost all of my photography is close-up shots of flora and fauna and I certainly could learn to render those with pastel as many do but mmm.....I would really like to be able to loosen up once in a while from the uptight precision that I normally paint and just go with the flow on something different - maybe balance the uptight side of my brain with a looser, softer approach and play with a few landscapes.
I'm going to have to start carrying 2 cameras with me when I am out and about - one for any birds, bugs and butterflies that are going my way and another to capture some nice scenic views!
....another confession....I spent some time on-line studying the work of a few pastel artists who's work I admire and I did attempt a copy of one of their pieces - just to see if I liked it and could render something even "similar" to their work. You know what...I had FUN and my attempt wasn't half bad if I say so myself, in fact I can't wait to see it framed up and hanging on my wall! I won't show it to you, it was just for me as an experimental piece. However, I will definitely be looking for a few nice places to either work en plein air or to get some scenic pics to work from. After working so close up for so long I am now craving a wider, more expansive view point...at least some of the time :-)