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Soft Pastels…An Exploration

A complete introduction to the medium of Soft Pastels, from History to Products to Use.

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With this course, I will take you on a short journey from the prehistoric cave paintings, stopping for a bit during the 1400's wide use of 'Red Chalk', and on to the 1700's. We'll discuss the properties of dry pigments as they relate to soft pastels and the history of early manufacturing processes in the 1800's.

Soft Pastels were revered as the portrait painter's first choice, before oil painting became a more popular medium. Pastels suffered an out-of-favor time period until the late 1800''s, when artists such as James Whistler, Mary Cassat, and Edgar Degas rediscovered soft pastels.

In 1972, a New York artist, Flora Giffuni, formed the Pastel Society of America. This juried group supported the medium, and started introducing it to the United States. Not long after, Urania Christy Tarbet formed IAPS (the International Association of Pastel Societies). Today, there are associations all over the world. Many boutique manufacturers have developed new and colorful ranges of pastels, in all ranges of hardness. Some are manufactured by hand, and some are machine milled.

There are several videos, one on red chalk, and a link to my Paris friend, Isabelle Roché's workshop where she carries on her family's Henri Roché Pastels…the chemist who developed pastels especially for Edgar Degas. We'll learn about different mark-making methods, the papers, and how to protect your work.

We'll explore the different types of pastels and how to use them in a casual, and more painterly manner. Soft Pastels are the perfect complement to your other mixed media products, and add a unique touch to your work.

You'll leave this class an informed artist with a respect this wonderful medium.


Your Instructor


Vicki Ross
Vicki Ross

"I believe in magic. I believe in the muse that inspires me and in my attempt to communicate a fleeting emotion into art. I believe in art's ability to heal, first the artist, then the viewer...and if by chance my art touches your soul we both win."

Vicki has been involved in the arts from a young age, and a student, tutor, designer, and constant creator in all media since her 20’s. After a major life-changing event in 2001, she began creating fine art full time. Studying with masters of our time led her to create Axully.com, to share with others some of the tutors she admires.

Her first gig was as Design Director of Leisure Arts, with her focus in surface stitchery. A few years later, she was a publisher/owner/designer of her own company, NeedleWorks. Her second career as a graphic designer and co-owner of Ross Marketing followed several years later when the Macintosh changed the landscape of the publishing business. Vicki was an early adopter, learning to use the new tools to ease the reproduction of charts, books, websites, and graphic design. Clients such as Chambers of Commerce, J.B.Hunt Transport, performance artists in Branson, MO, honed Vicki’s skills as an artist in the printing industry.

Vicki’s third career is as a fine artist. She studied with some of the greatest artists of today, and gained signature status in several international art groups. She has had art on display in Santa Fe, NM., and in France, as well as other galleries in the US. Currently, her focus is mixed media and paper art, teaching online and developing a successful YouTube following.

The links are prominent on www.VickiRossArt.com. She is currently a designer for www.DecoArt.com, www.CanvasCorp.com, Colourarte.com, and a teacher with www.PaperCraftU.com.

Vicki’s videos on YouTube are full process videos where her students feel like they are sitting with her in the studio.



Class Curriculum


  Definitions
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  Substrates (surfaces)
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  Color
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  Techniques
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  Fixatives
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Frequently Asked Questions


When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.

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