To live and enjoy every day to its fullest, use my gifts to help others, I travel to wherever passion finds me.

What Will She Paint?

So many friends I met here...!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


This pastel is somewhat of a Kodak moment and one of my first paintings in soft pastel. At the time I was still experimenting with this new medium, so I didn't have many of the shades of color I have now. I discovered quickly that oil is actually not such an expensive medium, compared to pastel.
But isn't it just "chalk" might you ask? It would be similar to say that a house is a heap of stones.

One needs different grades of softness and hardness of pastel sticks to reach certain effects. Some of the soft brands are $4-5 a stick not even 3 inches long!
Also, red and blue cannot be mixed to get purple like with other mediums. To get purple I would need to crosshatch the red stick on top of the blue stick, and some other shades to get the shade and nuance of purple I want.

Right now I own 180 sticks in 3 grades of soft/hardness and 50 pastel pencils for the edges. For the pencils I bought a charcoal sharpener, because with a "normal" sharpener the points kept breaking. This may sound like a lot of soft pastels, but to avoid that every painting ends up looking similar, I still buy on an average of 10 sticks and a couple of pastel pencils for each new painting. The results are worth it though!

As a matter of fact, I have seen artists who have thousands of pastel sticks. Now you know how true the expression "starving artists" could be if they don't have a spouse having a job in a field that brings in a regular salary!

But this is not the end yet of the purchases, since I drove 40 min. to this Art Supply Warehouse. First I only used Arches 140 lb. watercolor paper, but...I can get only so many layers of color on there.
I found Colorfix paper and Kitty Wallis paper. When you rub your finger against it, it feels like sanding paper. You'll understand that the spaces between the "sand" will hold more layers of pastel than smoother watercolor paper.

Some artists use spray when they are finished with the painting, and others refuse to use it, because spray tends to darken the colors. If you like to know how I came to paint with soft pastels, that's a story in itself, and you'll find it at

In a way, this little painting of "Three Favorite Things" are scribbles compared to what I do now in pastel. The colors are bold and simple. They represent my life back then. The small vase with roses represents my colorful home life.

The bear represents my job, from being a huggy bear for the children to being a grizzly bear, going after abuse or injustice, for children and adults alike. The guestbook represents all of our family and friends. With some we met weekly as a group, and many others of different regions of the globe, who stayed with us overnight. The background window is a look into a mysterious world.

Then there was that Sunday afternoon in Athens, Greece. At first we didn't know whether this was a public park or not, since were were no signs and it was somewhat secluded. After some time, slowly families came out with their little children to see the ducks and geese. If you like to see the ducks up close, please click on the image to enlarge.

The exuberance I see here in the US in little children and the excitement of the parents were much more restrained here. The shadows make this an interesting scene. I know I broke a rule her in cutting off part of the woman's head, but I wanted the focus to be on the child looking at the ducks and geese, and keep this in a long narrow frame.

I love the velvety touch of soft pastel. Its durability stands surprizingly up to oil. Many famous painters have used soft pastel, not just as a preparation for an oil, such as Degas, Marie Cassat, and others.

My paintings, as well as my job, are for most part about very serious things in life. Once in a while I like my paintings to be light-hearted, playful, frivolous, or whimsical. These two pastels are in that category.


Michelle said...

Yes, I too own 100's of pastels in various states.....its a great medium and Id like to play more with it one of these days.

Rules are made to be broken sometimes, makes life interesting.


The Finely Tuned Woman said...

Wonderful work, well done. Love the park in Athens.

jeannette stgermain said...

Yes, I like breaking rules - I'm somewhat of a rebel. You need sooo many pastels to make a good painting, but now I'm hooked!

Cedar said...

I use to be an art supply Buyer for a company here in Seattle. I worked with a woman that was a Pastel Artist. I would give her any samples that I got from vendors for testing. The one thing I remember about pastels is that they throw off a fine dust that gets in nose and in your lungs and pastel artists are very stubborn about wearing masks.

Simply Heather said...

That was a pleasure to read, and you've taught me a few things. I never realized that there were so many versions of mother had ALL types of artistry tools (oils, watercolor, pastels, chalk, acrylic, and other things). She loved oil painting...I prefer acyrylic but want to start the process of watercolor learning. I tend to be a stubborn, learn on my own - trial and error, type of person.

I admire your work, the process of it and that you share it with us in the blog world :o).

You have taught me two GREAT thought keeping treasures: 1. To be original (as you stated somewhere that an art teacher once taught you). and 2. Keep moving ahead.

You've shown me that with time and production, the process becomes perfected (not that we ever reach perfection but that we can see the growth...on paper before our eyes).

Thank you! ♥ Heather

jeannette stgermain said...

Thank you Irene. Yes, the pastel of the park in Athens is one-of-a-kind for me. Heve you gotten back to creative therapy?

jeannette stgermain said...

I've been thinkting a lot about the pastel dust after your comment. You know, not in any book for pastel artists they tell you to put a mask on.
I just noticed it, because I start coughing after working with it after a while, so I open the patio door. Wish they had more comfortable dustmasks! I appreciate the (healthy) reminder:)

Donna said...

You make me want to pull out all my's bee years! Lovely drawings sweetie!!!!hughugs

jeannette stgermain said...

Thank you Heather for all these compliments. What you've learned is precisely what I want to come over to my blog friends. You've got a great advantage over most when you have a creative parent :)

jeannette stgermain said...

Why not? - I think it's a great idea - anything is possible. I painted in my teens, and then I took a leave of absence fo 25 years from painting! It won't take long till you gain back what you lost - you won't regret it! It's a new joy that I have found back in my life. cheers!

Reader Wil said...

Your paintings are very exquisite! I like your pastels too.Thanks for sharing!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

You are very talented Jeanette. I could not draw anthing even if my life depended on it. :)

jeannette stgermain said...

Reader Wil,
Thank you for your kind comments. I'm leading up to my more serious paintings LOL

jeannette stgermain said...

Thank you for you kindness, Joan.
Some artists think that 90% of talent is practice - I don't know if it's true, but it's the story you may have heard more, "When everyone was out playing, I was practicing..."(whatever it was, ball, instrument, art).
And I had several teachers who took a personal interest in me, so I got a lot of individual help.

Jeanne said...

Beautiful! I love that Sunday in the Park piece. What a talent! Mary Cassat is one of my favorite artists!

jeannette stgermain said...

Jeanne, thank you for your kind comments about my art.
I see that Mr.Winter is still ruling in your neck of the woods, brrr.