This week I was lucky enough to take a pastel class from a very good artist in Missouri. I drove for 3 hours to get there, and it was a wonderful experience! I have not used pastels since I was in high school (and I won't tell you how many years ago that was!), and they have definitely changed the rules since then. I had learned that you rub the chalks into the paper and blend, blend, blend. They have improved the papers and the chalks since then, and you are capable of doing so much more these days!
As you can see, I am NOT talented in this area, at least not without a lot more practice, and much better tools. I used a low tooth paper (I hear that you can even use sandpaper to draw on now!) and very student-grade pastels that flake a lot. I enjoyed the layering, and the building up of color to get what effect you want. The paper was a tan color, and I built up the blue sky with a combination of teal blue, pink and white. The bark was really fun, and I used 2 kinds of yellows, a peach, light brown, purple and black. I chose a too-detailed subject for my first time of doing this, and struggled with that a LOT.
On the whole, I enjoyed getting out of my comfort zone, though and have a definite plan of trying new things more often. My favorite part? Getting together with other artists! I sometimes feel too isolated where I am, and miss the good conversation that people can have.