I often get asked the same questions across my social media. Here they all are answered! If you have a question not answered here, then scroll down to the bottom and fill out the form and submit a new question. Cheers!
How long have you been using chalk pastels?
I first used pastels and many other mediums when I started college in 2006. As I experimented during college, I eventually noticed that I naturally worked well with chalk pastels and charcoal. I like how forgiving the media can be. I can wipe it away quickly and it allows a lot of trial and error. This is ideal for developing attractive strokes. Some people don’t like the fragile nature of pastels, but I just see that as a small disadvantage in return for a flexible media. I exclusively started using pastels in 2013.
What education have you had?
I went to Ringling College of Art and Design and got my BA Illustration in 2006. I worked at a baby product company called Nuby for a little while doing character designs for Boots stores in the UK. After I had left there, I started freelancing doing logo designs for local companies, and I worked at a magazine as a graphic designer making ads. I wasn’t the fastest graphic designer, and it frankly stressed me out. I only worked there for 6 months because I was soon offered a 2 year full paid scholarship to attend John English’s Applied Arts program. It honestly changed my life. The faculty was so strong. Many were the same teachers for The Illustration Academy, which was also founded by John English.
How did you discover your style?
It took me many years to find a personal voice. It became apparent after an assignment from a teacher to do an exaggerated portrait. I talk about my journey in discovering my voice in this interview here: Women in Fantasy Illustration: Ashly Lovett Interview by Kiri Leonard.
How long does it take you to do a pastel?
It depends on the size of the piece and whether it is a black and white or a color piece. My typical EveryDayOriginal.com pieces are 4x6 and take me several hour sessions and 2-3 days to complete. Then there are larger works like my Crimson Peak illustration that measured 15x13. It took me 2 weeks to complete.
What type of paper do you use?
I took a printmaking class. There I learned how cotton rag paper is meant to be soaked and it can take a lot of media. I use cotton rag BFK Rives paper because I enjoy the tooth and the thickness. I’ve experimented a lot with different medias to mix with chalk pastel, and I noticed cotton rag paper could take a lot of abuse without tearing up, and it won’t warp when it is wet. Some people like Stonehenge paper, which is similar.
What pastel brands do you use?
I’ve been using Prismacolor NuPastels for years, but I’ve been trying out new brands recently, such as Koh-I-Noor soft pastels and pencils. I also like Sennelier brand because their pigments are so rich. However, they can be harmful if inhaled. Always wear a face mask in a well ventilated area when you work with pastels! I also have an air purifier when I work.
Do you wear a mask or cover your fingers?
I do not use finger covers. I like having direct contact. I do use a mask! I use a cloth mask since I don’t like the disposable ones from the hardware section. I have a small face, and I can’t ever find ones that fit comfortable. I ordered mine from Breath Health.
Are chalk pastels safe to use?
It depends on the brand. You can find out how hazardous art supplies is when you shop at DickBlick.com. Learn about that here. Regardless, I suggest a face mask. I also use a air purifier. When learning how to keep myself healthy and educating myself on chalk pastels and their possible health hazards, I thought it would be important to know what size particles pastels are. And I’ve had a hard time finding out. I imagine it depends on different brands and whatever materials they are made of. It may not be possible to know what every pigment stick contains. The cloth mask I use from Breath Health can filter particles 1.0 microns and most dust is 1.0 microns. But you could then argue that certain metals could be even small particles. I even contacted Breath Healthy if they knew and they didn’t. Here is an example chart of particle sizes: click here. If you are really concerned about dust safety, then I suggest a N95 respirator grade mask. They filter particles From 0.1 to 0.3 and larger. You can find disposable ones in any hardware section or on amazon here.
Is it called a pastel drawing or a pastel painting?
I call them drawings because chalk pastels are a dry medium.
Are pastels permanent?
It depends on the brand and if they are lightfast. Lightfast means "not prone to discolor when exposed to light." I personally haven't had my pieces fade, but I also don't put them in direct sunlight. And you want to use archival paper with no acid.
Do you use Pan Pastels?
I have not yet because I'm used to using sticks and my fingers to blend. They would be an interesting option that I may look into in the future.
Do you use any other mediums?
I have experience with all mediums. You can see some samples of my studies at my website AshlyLovett.com > Studies and Stuff. When I started college, I learned how to use acrylics and oils during Mixed Media, Figure, Landscape, and my other classes. As well as watercolor (which I’m no good at) and printmaking. Eventually, I just found I enjoyed chalk pastels and it worked with my method. I’ll be elaborating more with a future blog post.
Have you tried other medias with chalk pastel?
So far I’ve mixed water, mineral spirits, oils, gouache, ink, linseed oil, and markers with chalk pastels. I’ll continue to experiment and post samples on Patreon and my public blog.
Do you draw every day?
Usually! Sometimes I take a day off to have a lazy day with my husband on the couch. It usually involves my husband, Matthew, playing Destiny and me building houses in Sim 4.
How do you frame pastel pieces?
I don’t use spray fixative on my pastels because it alters the colors. It makes the overall piece darker. I’ve been experimenting with different brands and still have this same problem. Because of that, pastels have to be framed with a matte and glass. The matte is to keep the artwork from having direct contact with the glass. And glass to protect it, of course. I use museum glass, which protects the piece from UV sun rays and is less reflective. It looks like there isn’t any glass, so I don’t mind how much more expensive it is.
How do you clean glass on the artwork?
When cleaning glass in an already framed artwork, never spray directly on the glass. Spray with a mild cleaner on a soft cotton cloth and then wipe the glass clean. If you spray the cleaner directly on the glass, it can run down and get under the glass, on the mat or the artwork. No good!
How do you keep your pastel sticks clean?
I store my pastels in fishinh tackle boxes filled with rice. It keeps them organized and fairly clean. There is also this expensive unit if you’re interested. http://www.cherryartproducts.com/