Extra Large Frederic Church's Olana Soft Form Wet and Dry Pastels


Currently out of stock

Why use anything else but the best - Choosing Keeping is pleased to offer these very special pastels made using conservation-abiding 15th century old Italian methods, and containing fine premium pigments for a rich but smooth effect. The organic, pebble shape and size of these pastels should allow for more vigorous and dynamic strokes, as they are less likely to crumble in hand.

If you have been using commercial, mass manufactured pastels before - which contain chalks and other cheap, dusty fillers - this medium is incomparable. They are carefully handmade, in small batches, with the aim of giving each colour the greatest clarity and brightness, allowing the artist to explore the pigment's full character. Some pumice is added to the pigment, in order to break open the surface of the paper - giving even more depth and facilitating layering. In addition, these pastels can be used wet, for a watercolour effect. 

Here on offer is a set of 24 colours inspired by the interiors of Frederic Church's (1827-1900) house also known as Olana, in Husdon, New York. The mansion, set on the hillside overlooking the Catskill mountains, was designed by Calvert Vaux. Built from 1870 to 1874, it is a beautiful example of Romantic Orientalism. Church, a central figure of the Hudson River School of American landscape painters, purchased the land before heading out on a European and Middle Eastern tour. The pink sandstone of the cliffs of Petra or Moroccan cornflower blue are obvious influences born out of Church's extensive travels (to Rome, Beirut, Mexico, Jamaica, Palestine, and Egypt) but also characteristic of 19th century Romanticism's lust for escapism. Church's home and studio, still in their intact condition, are peppered with idiosyncratic architectural details of the Aesthetic Movement, such as Moorish arches, Persian carpets, even Japanese style wallpaper. He left no nation spared when referencing Eastern cultures in the visual lexicon. If you are a lover of Victoriana and have a flair for your inner dandy, try out these colours to inspire your own Asia Minor and Biblical Architecture tour.

Diane Townsend, the creator and maker of these pastels, extensively analysed the colours of Olana's walls, ceilings, windows, doors, moulding, wallpapers and fabrics to convey Church's oversaturated and maximalist colour scheme. 

Ingredients: Pumice, tragacanth gum and natural pigment
Pastel Dimensions: 38 x 25 x 20mm 
24 Pastel Set

Image Credits:
Frederic Edwin Church, "Clouds over Olana"(August 1872). Oil on off-white paper
Frederic Edwin Church, "Masterplan for Olana" (1886) Ink and Watercolour
Interior, Olana, 1977, © Kurt Dolnier, Photography.
Diane Townsend, colour preparation following visit to Olana. 

General Notes and precautions when working with Pastels

When working with soft pastel, be aware of nuisance dust. It is ideal to wear disposable gloves and a dust mask when working with pastel, especially if working in a  vigorous/expressive manner, where pigment dust becomes temporarily airborne.

To counter pigment dust, spray a fine mist of water in the workspace before beginning to paint with pastels. This will catch any dust and force it down to floor level. Ideally, work in a ventilated space.

Do not eat, drink or smoke when working with pastels. Wash hands before eating or drinking.