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Coming Up with Fresh Ideas to Draw with Your Pastels

Part of the Pastels For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Whether you’re new to drawing with pastels or have drawn hundreds of pastel works, you may find yourself in need of fresh subject ideas. When the idea tank is dry, fill it up with the following drawing strategies:

  • Draw something from a different point of view. Changing your point of view forces you to think more consciously about what you’re drawing. Try mouse-eye and bird’s-eye views, which are very low (as if you were lying on the floor looking up at your subject) and very high (as if you were standing over the subject looking down on it) in relation to your subject, respectively.

  • Use your viewfinder to find an interesting but unrecognizable section of a larger object. Instead of drawing the same old shapes you’re used to, this strategy lets you focus on the textures, colors, and so on your work may not typically show. Hold your viewfinder so that you can see through its window and look for an interesting composition of shapes, textures, colors, or values of light and dark. Dramatic combinations of dark and light shapes are particularly effective.

  • Make a collage out of images cut from magazines and photographs and then use it to create a pastel drawing. This playful idea helps you break out of the realistic box. You can put impossible, dreamlike images together as you find in the work of surrealist artists Salvador Dali or Rene Magritte, or you can make an abstract design. Start to build an image by adding clippings to an existing photograph or by putting many clippings of photographs together (but keep the collage simple the first time you try it). After you make the collage, refer to it as you make your pastel drawing.

  • Choose a masterpiece and put a portrait or figure of yourself in the picture or update the masterpiece to modern times. Secretly adding yourself to your study of a masterpiece or making yourself the main focus of the work adds a humorous element to it and breaks up the monotony you may be feeling in your normal drawing. In another approach, updating a masterpiece gives you the chance to put your own spin on a time-honored work, like creating West Side Story out of Romeo and Juliet.

  • Do an inside/outside drawing that incorporates an interior with a view outside the window. This kind of composition helps you think about how to balance color, light, and competing areas of focus in a way your usual work may not. Decide where you want the viewers to look first and work out how to use contrasting colors to attract their attention. At the same time, determine where to use similar colors to quiet areas of the composition and make them recede.

  • Make a pastel drawing that incorporates the past, present, and future into the picture. This strategy adds the element of time that may be missing from your everyday work to the picture and tells a story. Try depicting a scene that tells all the events of a story in one picture or show a sequence of movements in a still scene.

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Pastels For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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