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Pastellus: A Real Challenge

In December it is hard to see January coming at us. It always happens, on December 27th we bolt upright in bed at 4:03am, breathing heavy, sweating a little - the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge starts in 5 days and we aren’t ready. So much to do; need adequate supplies on hand, plenty of study images and of course coffee and massive quantities of chocolate.

Then, January 1st, we roll out of bed at 8:35, head pounding, stiff, in a fog. All we can think about is eggs on toast with mayonnaise and cheese - lots of cheese. By 2pm the fog is lifting and we realize we have to go back to work tomorrow; the house is a disaster, half Christmas leftovers, half New Years Eve dishes, and a basket full of dirty laundry. This is when we remember that our 30-in-30 challenge starts today, we go green around the gills and our knees are suddenly a bit weak.

Ok, survived the first few crazy days of January and now we are happily painting one painting a day. Sipping our coffee in one hand and blending pastels with the other. It is kind of nice to make time for ourselves and our art work.

Come on! Get Real! NICE? Is that what you want? NICE?

How about a real challenge this year, really push yourself and your limits. Expand your abilities and your confidence with a painting Marathon! Oil painter Marc Hanson has done 4 of these challenges, 4 paintings a day for the entire month. In an interview with John Pototschnik ( he explains “Without a doubt the month long painting ‘marathons’ that I’ve done, painting everyday for the entire month, 4 paintings a day, have done the most for my technique, for my outlook on what I choose to paint, and for my endurance as a painter. Those intense months of nothing but painting, all day long, have done more than anything else I’ve done to advance my painting skills. It only makes sense that it would. You have to paint when you don’t want to, when you’re tired, wet, cold, out of ideas, thinking that there’s no way that you’re going to be able to see one more painting, ever. That personal challenge really stretched my chops. I’ve done four of those now, and I would say that with each one I could viscerally feel the steps forward that my painting took.”

How wonderful to really challenge ourselves, to have to paint when we don’t want to, to have to find subject matter to paint that isn’t comfortable. Image how it would truly advance you as an artist. Now, I am really not suggesting 4 paintings a day, although, I do think that is a great goal. But think for a minute if 1 painting a day is really a challenge for you, is painting the same subject matter you normally paint a real challenge? Does it push your ability, grow your confidence? If after careful consideration of your circumstances and artistic goals you answered yes then please complete the 30-in-30 challenge, if you answered no or were inspired by Marc Hanson’s personal challenge then create your own challenge this year. Step out of your comfort zone and see where it takes you - the options are limitless!

The object is to truly challenge yourself.

Get your supplies and your studio space ready now, don’t wait until December 27th. Start on January 2nd or 3rd, so you can completely enjoy the holidays. May I suggest a trip to the Rochester Art Supply Store to really inspire and invigorate you to take on your challenge.

Walking into the store you are greeted by the smell of canvas and paper, and dust - glorious art dust! The aisles are crowded with tubes, brushes, cans and color, and everything begs to be touched. As you make your way to the back left corner you pass options and opportunity stacked on top of each other. All of the sudden you are standing in front of a room lined with wooden drawers - like the old card catalog drawers at the library - but these drawers aren’t as tall, they are thin, and there are hundreds. Open one and pastels are nestled in foam beds in order of color. One drawer has blues, the next blue/green and so on. On top of the drawers are displays of pastels in every color - colors I hadn’t even imagined. You can buy one stick or one hundred sticks (exception Terry Ludwig, only sold in sets). Rebecca, the young woman patiently helping me, always smiling, answered all my questions, looked up numbers and colors, and found me a small travel box with foam beds for the pastels I purchased.

Although you can shop online and they are more than willing to help you over the phone (800) 836-8940 and through email; it just doesn’t compare to the inspiration that awaits you when you walk through the doors - a little slice of art heaven! (The full catalog is also on our website under "Resources")

Remember, reward only comes from Practice, Patience and Perseverance.

Side note: If you do plan a trip and there is something specific you want to look at, call ahead and they will have it out and ready for you. The store itself is not large, so easels, for example, aren’t all set out.

If you have any questions or comments about this column, email Stacy at

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