My Lessons | Getting Started | Supplemental Videos | Student Critiques


Choosing Pastels

Marla walks you through all the brands and choices so you can easily put together a starter set of pastels and how to go about adding to that set; Marla's favorites and not so favorites.

Choosing Papers

Marla gives you a thorough survey of the many paper choices and gives recommendations for getting started.

Setting up a Pastel Workspace

Setting up a functional, healthy and inviting workspace is key to getting in the mileage needed to become a good painter.

Make Your Own Dust Catcher for Pastels

A step by step video on how to fashion a trap to catch pastel dust to make working in pastel healthier and cleaner.

Keeping Track of Pastels

Getting the most out of your pastels requires removing the wrappers, so how do you keep track of them? Marla has several methods to help you keep things organized.

Cleaning Pastels

Keeping your pastels clean is key to choosing pastels that are the correct hue, value and intensity. Marla shows you different methods for different situations.

Stages of Learning

Marla talks about how to we learn and the stages we go through in the process. This orientation towards our study will help you master any disinclination to work, fear of the blank page and creativity killers.


An Apple a Day

Explore what your pastels can do: fine lines, bold strokes and subtle washes, to name just a few things. This versatile and dynamic medium is perfect for anyone who loves color and a tactile connection with your tools. This lesson is a great ice-breaker!You’ll practice using a range of pressure from a very light touch, barely letting the pastel skim the surface of the paper, to aggressively pushing the pastel into the paper surface. Then practice making marks going in a variety of directions, constantly moving your hand. Practice making marks of a variety of scale; from small strokes to big bold ones using the whole length of a stick. Your mark making vocabulary will give your work it’s own unique look. Nobody can make marks exactly like you!!

Form, Light & Shadow

A study of the form principle is an important part of any artist's toolkit. As artists, it's useful to visit and revisit these fundamentals to give us a robust understanding of picture making. Everything in visible light conforms to the same principle, no matter its shape. Whether it’s one of the basic shapes or a very complex organization of shapes such as a tree! We can always see objects in the visual field simply if we remember the form principle. When there is a strong division of light and shadow, the light side includes the light and dark halftones and the highlight. The shadow side includes the form shadow(on the object or form), the core shadow, reflected light, cast shadow and accent or sometimes called the occlusion shadow. This short exercise explains this crucial principle of drawing and painting.

Three Colored Cubes

This is an essential exercise that sets the stage for all of your future painting! Once you understand how to create the illusion of form in color, you can literally paint anything you see! Marla explains how to choose pastels that are the right values in order to depict form convincingly. You’ll choose three values for each colored cube and the correct pastel for the cast shadows.This one is challenging, but well worth the investment of time.


These videos will extend your understanding of the key concepts presented this month. Spend some time with these. Some of them are YouTube videos available to the public but they fit nicely with our study, so I wanted you to be aware of them and take a look. These are just a few examples of painting some simple household objects and how painting them can help inform your study.

Orange Pepper

Join me for this tutorial where I demonstrate how to paint an orange pepper in pastel.

Blue Bowl

Join me for this tutorial where I demonstrate how to paint a blue bowl in pastel.

White Pitcher

Join me for this tutorial where I demonstrate how to paint a white pitcher in pastel.