I am primarily a self-taught artist. I've worked in watercolor, oil, and silver point but I feel I became a serious painter when I discovered the medium of pastel. I love that you hold the pastel in your hands, no brush or tool between you and the color. It becomes part of you. For someone like me whose creative process begins with my visceral reaction to color, that is very heady stuff.
I set up a still life in my studio. I start with the one thing that has actually inspired me to pick up the pastels. I then add and subtract items, play with the composition, and find the lighting that best sets the stage I've envisioned. (Often times I know as soon as I find that one thing I want to paint, what I will put with it. I see it in my head. Sometimes the set up is exactly as I envisioned, and sometimes it changes drastically.) I then do a charcoal sketch for placement and shadow pattern. I like the drawing to be precise but not detailed. I start my painting working all over the paper using a hard to soft pastel and dark to light pastel process.