The Pastel Place
Take a Deep Dive into Pastel with this unique online course
Learn How To Paint With Pastel
From The Basics To More Advanced Techniques
Learn how to paint with pastel in this extensive online course.
Follow a well structured program and you will see your confidence and skills grow.
Go beyond just materials and basic techniques and learn how to improve your work.
It is a true deep dive into soft pastel.
Take a Deep Dive into Pastel
The Pastel Place online course is suitable for beginners and intermediate pastellists and offers a thorough exploration of the medium.
The pastel place is fun and unique; you will be stepping inside a pastel world to explore the medium 'from the inside out'.
Get (and give) feedback from your fellow students in the supportive private community.
- A tour of The Pastel Place
- Guide Book
- About the course
- What to do next
- The Art Shop
- What is pastel?
- Brands and types
- Pastel Lists
- Which colours do I need?
- Pastel papers
- Paper trials
- Explore different papers
- Health and safety
- Mark making
- Line drawing
- Using the flat side
- Light touch
- Expressive marks
- Working with primaries
- Complementary colours
- Colour temperature
- Painting fine detail
- The Pastel Museum entrance
- Liotard: The Chocolate Girl
- Degas: The Dance Lesson
- The history of pastel painting
- A Still Life
- Looking back and ahead
- Primary Pop
- Primaries Portrait Challenge
- Reading Corner
- How to store pastels
- How to organise pastels
- How to frame pastel paintings
The Pastel Place
At The Pastel Place you will find an extensive and unique online course. You will be virtually stepping inside the pastel paintings to learn soft pastel from the inside out. A supportive and active community helps out with feedback and questions.
“Sophie has created a great community where everyone is very supportive of each other whatever their level of ability. Sophie is a great teacher, her feedback gives you encouragement & is really instructive. I love that I can work at my own pace without any pressure." Ann
“I am really enjoying this course. I had very little experience of working with pastels and this course has given me a direction.
As a beginner I find that it is easy to understand and Sophie seems to be talking to you personally instead of addressing a hugh class. Being able to share and talk with others also doing the course is and excellent idea and provides us all with encouragement."
"Just wanted to let you know that after 5 months I've finished my course in The Pastel Place and what a fantastic time I've had !
I have learnt so much about pastels and painting in general. The course has encouraged me to try new things and go beyond my comfort zone. I feel so much more confident to take on new projects now. All thanks to Sophie for being a great teacher and encouraging me each step of the way.
I have to add though that like anything you only get out what you put in. So if you're thinking of learning about pastels - then definitely sign up for this course but make sure you take up all It's challenges !!"
"This is the most unique online art course I have taken. The setup is unique and the contents takes a pastel newbie from pastel and paper types through mark making and beyond. Also Sophie is there every step of the way and I think that she is the most valuable resource in the course."
What’s at the Pastel Place?
The Pastel Place consists of a structured series of around 43 video lessons, each with its own assignments, organised in modules or ‘Locations’. Every lesson builds up towards greater skill and confidence in pastel painting. You can post your assignments in the private community for feedback and support.
The Art Shop
Explore and try out the many different types of pastel types and papers. What is the difference between hard and soft pastels and various brands? What about all the different papers out there? Are pastels even safe? Experiment and find your favourite materials.
The Art Studios: Mark Making
Carefully chosen exercises provide the most efficient learning. We will work on mark making extensively, exploring all the different ways a pastel can be used.
The Art Studios: Colour
Colour theory is one of the fundamentals of all painting and we will touch upon the basics here. Primary colours, complementary colours and colour temperature are all part of your assignments.
The Art Studio: Useful Concepts
In these lessons we will work on some of the fundamental painting principles, such as edges, value, underpainting and painting fine detail in pastel. These fundamentals will help you in any painting medium, not just pastel!
The Pastel Museum
Take a deep dive into the history of pastel art and analyse a few old master pastel paintings in the museum to find out how their techniques can help us in our own paintings. Practice applying old master tricks in your own art so you can develop your own portfolio.
A longer still life demonstration is included in this course: showing you the whole process from set up, composition, choice of materials and every pastel stroke until the piece is finished.
The Pastel Cafe
In our private community forum (The Pastel Cafe) you will find support and feedback whenever you need it from your fellow students. Here you can post your work, assignments, and ask questions.
In the Bonus Alley there are various small shops to visit: the frame shop, for example, or a place full of storage solutions.
Pastel Cafe Happy Hour
The Happy Hour is for those who want more or go deeper. Extra bite-sized challenges, asssignments or more advanced extras for those who can’t stop. Choose a Primary Pop or a Tricolor from the menu!
I am Sophie and I will guide you around the Pastel Place. You can pop into the cafe for a break or a chat at any time. Step by step we will visit the various places around the square and step by step you will gain experience, knowledge and confidence in painting in pastel.
I do not follow any particular tutor style or technique. My approach is practical and not prescriptive. Find your own painting voice by doing the exercises and learning the ins and outs of soft pastel.
I have worked with pastel for many decades. As a professional artist I have enjoyed many portrait commissions and exhibition success. My work has been exhibited at the BP Portrait Award, the Pastel Society and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters amongst many other places. I have published work in various international art magazines. I work mainly in pastel and oils and specialise in portraiture and textiles such as lace.
Questions? Email me!
Become a more confident painter through the carefully chosen exercises
Gain knowledge and hands-on experience of materials
Be inspired by some great old master pastelists in The Pastel Museum
Make new friends in The Pastel Cafe (private online community)
Work at your own pace in your own time. Take as s long as you need and repeat as many times as you like.
The Pastel Place is designed for those who want to take a serious dive into pastel and painting, whether you are a total beginner or more experienced in the medium. It is informal in tone, yet serious in skill sharing!
Your New Pastel Home!
Spend Just 1 Or 2 Hours A Week,
Follow The Carefully Chosen Lessons And Assignments,
And See Your Art And Confidence Grow!
Always Wanted To Go To Art School But Never Made It?
This Is For You
Fundamental painting principles explained in a clear and easy way. I won’t teach you ‘How to paint x’ but instead I will teach you the skills you need to paint anything you like.
Colour theory, Values, Edges, Fine Detail, Undperpaintings
In The Pastel Place we work with hard and soft pastel sticks mainly.
Hands-on practice with various pastel types and papers.
Lots of practical assignments and demonstrations.
A helpful Guide Book of over 100 pages (PDF) is included in the course.
Some extra’s in The Pastel Cafe Happy Hour
I will show you how you can make art history work for your own painting practice.
Friends and Support
A friendly and supportive private community to share your work, post your assignments, ask questions, make new friends and just hang out.
Experienced and award winning tutor (ahem): I’ve been at it for a while.
Work at your own pace, in your own time and watch and re-watch the lessons as often as you like.
Going round The Pastel Place will take you around 3-6 months, assuming you work on it a few hours a week, but you will never want to leave!
Suitable for absolute beginners and intermediate pastellists
How long will the course take me?
If you work a couple of hours per week on it, I imagine it will take you 4 to 6 months to complete. Obviously, if you have more time you will be able to go through it quicker. If you can spend some time painting every day, then perhaps it will take around 2 months. The extra material (Happy Hour, Bonus Alley and the odd challenge I might throw in) will take extra time. All in all, this is a thorough and deep-dive course. You can take as long as you like and go as slow or fast as you please.
How much does the course cost?
The Pastel Place course is part of the curriculum of Sophie’s Art School. You cannot buy the courses individually. To access the course you can enrol in Sophie’s Art School for just £25 per month. You can stay as long or short as you like, cancelling only takes two clicks. As an enrolled student you will have access to The Pastel Place course, as well as various other courses, tutorials, workshops and our private online community. Browse the website to find out more, or simply ask Sophie if you have any questions.
Can I repeat lessons?
You can watch every lesson as often as you like. You can fast forward, pause, play, repeat the video lessons. Many of the assignments are very suitable to incorporate into your regular painting practice. I am sorry but you cannot download the lessons.
Can I download the lessons?
No. I am sorry, this is not possible.
How does the course work?
Every lesson has a short video, an assignment, and there is a an accompanying chapter in the Guide Book for you to read. You will get the most out of the course if you do all the lessons in the right order, and if you do all the assignments.
You can share your assignments in the community. This is not obligatory.
The course book is over 100 pages and will provide extra info, images and good way to keep track of where you are in the course.
Is this course suitable for beginners?
Yes! This course is very suitable for beginners. We are taking you on a journey through pastel: you will explore pastel papers, pastel types and the assignments are intended to be useful for any level. Don’t be disheartened by more advanced students, they will be more than happy to help out.
I am a more experienced pastel painter, is this for me?
Yes, it is. Although you might already know a lot about materials, we also take a deep dive into fundamental painting pricinples. These principles (colour, values, edges, art history etc) can never be practised enough.
Is there a materials list?
Yes, there is a suggested materials list in your Guide Book, listing a variety of different pastel types and papers. You can decide yourself whether to go mad or keep it, ahem, sensible. I generally recommend to have a selection of hard and soft pastels as well as some drawing paper and a good selection of sanded papers so you can explore the differences of them.
What payment options do you offer?
You can pay via credit card or Paypal. You will be required to make a Paypal account (which only takes a second).
Can I contact you for questions?
Of course. If you have any questions about the course, do drop me a line. If you decide to join, you can always reach me via the community or email for any questions.
What if I don’t want to join in the community and share my work?
That’s fine. Although I would recommend using the support of your fellow students, this is by no means a ‘must’. You can take the course privately if you like.
I am not sure about an online course. Won’t I miss interaction with a ‘real’ tutor and fellow students?
Although we are not physically there to help you, your fellow students are there for your on a daily basis. At any time can you pop in the forum for a chat, a question or an assignment. The community is friendly and helpful and you will make new friends in no time. You’ll see!
Do you teach pan pastels / pastel pencils / oil pastels?
In The Pastel Place we focus on traditional soft pastel sticks; we will explore various types (hard, soft) and brands, pastel papers, and mark making techniques. We then move on to colour, value, and much more. Although we don't specifically work with pan pastel or pastel pencils, we welcome these pastel types and many of us use them as well as pastel sticks. The fundamentals of painting (underpainting, block in, form, detail, as well as colour, proportion, value etc) are the same no matter what medium you use, so a lot that the course offers can be applied to any art material and any subject matter.
We do not work with oil pastels. They are quite different from soft pastels.
The Pastel Place Guide Book
Free when you join The Pastel Place: An accompanying guide book of over 100 pages, full of extra information (PDF format). There is a chapter for every lesson so you can read along while painting. The book comes free as a PDF download but you can also opt to buy the paper version.
This book is not a course in itself and is intended to support the main video course. The book is only available to registered students
I really enjoyed the Pastel Place Painting Course. I highly recommend it if you want to learn how to paint with pastels or to brush up on the basics. I particularly enjoyed learning about color mixing theory and how to create a full painting using only primary colors, plus white and brown. I like that I can take the lessons over again whenever I want.
Sophie's Pastel Place is an amazing place! It was just what I was looking for when I discovered soft pastels and wanted to know what to do with them. I learned so much and my work grew with every lesson and every comment Sophie gave on my work. She is so helpful! If there is anything you don't understand, she keeps explaining and giving examples until you do. I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on this!
I joined the Pastel Place because I was feeling that I couldn't get motivated. Sophie has completely changed that! The coursework, demos etc are so well thought out and inspiring. Thank you Sophie
Sophie‘s instruction is both clear and well paced. She breaks down steps enabling you to feel confident as you approach your own paintings. You’ll always find encouragement when learning from her. Additionally, her feedback and that of the other students is so valuable.
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Take a deep dive into soft pastel and take your painting skills to the next level
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The Pastel Place
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£25 per month
Join Me At The Pastel Place
It took me many months to build this online pastel painting ecourse and it is very special to me. I really wanted to create an online course that was different and fun to go through. It had to be a course that busted many common pastel myths, that taught fundamental painting principles, and yet stayed away from the standard ‘tutor at easel showing you how it’s done’ formula. I think I have succeeded in creating something unique, engaging, fun yet serious in building skills, experience and confidence in pastel painting. Do join me and I will help you paint whatever you want to paint in soft pastel.
Cynthia’s Thoughts on The Pastel Place
As an amateur artist working in Northumberland I can wholeheartedly recommend the Pastel Course.
Sophie explains everything you need to know through delightful videos and beautiful demonstrations. By following the accompanying guide book I have been surprised at the improvements I have made. From selecting and buying pastels and papers through to the history and all the tips and techniques in between, all aspects of the medium are covered. Many of which are pertinent to all types of painting.
I can now approach the use of pastels with confidence.
Meeting the other students in the virtual cafe, sharing and discussing our work has been an added joy. It’s the next best thing to being there .