Never Give Up

I started painting again back in about 2008. I say “again,” because I used to paint way back in 1972-74. Then I stopped. Why did I stop? Because I got married and well – life. But in 2008 my boys were grown and on their own. I wanted to be a watercolorist, so I took lessons every Saturday morning at our local Art Center. I joined the watercolor society, was active, participated in shows, took workshops, won some awards. But I had more failed watercolor paintings than I did successful paintings. Or what I deemed successful in my own self-critical eye. I looked at my failures and was discouraged. I looked at those I considered somewhat successful and realized that to me, my watercolors were always only “somewhat” successful. It took me about 4 years to realize this. I’m not one to give up.

Never Give Up 1
Icon I

I have been a fan of Degas’ work since I was in elementary school and participated in the Picture Memory competitions. Remember those? They give you these flash cards with a famous painting on it and you are required to memorize the title and the artist. Then they test you on it. I was very good at this. I’m sure there must have been more to it than that, but elementary school was a very long time ago and this is about all I remember about it. Anyway. Degas’ pastels are so wonderfully expressive and alive and sometimes raw and I decided I wanted to see what I could do with pastel sticks. I took another workshop at the Art Center, and while I did not produce any masterpieces, I learned a lot about the medium, the supports and got my hands dirty. I jumped in head-first and did not look back.

Never Give Up 2
Icon II

I got my first set of Unison Colour Pastels after I attended an Albert Handell Mentoring workshop in Santa Fe a few years ago. I already had a few scattered pieces of Unison, but at his workshop, I saw the big Handell Landscape set and I took a photo of it, copied down all the colors I did not have and promptly ordered them to complete my bigger landscape set. Which is interesting in a way, because during that workshop, which was a plein air landscape workshop, Albert told me to stay away from landscapes and distance because I didn’t know what to do with them. All of us who know Albert can relate to this remark. He is honest. Sometimes brutally. But it did not hurt my feelings. First of all because I was there to get his honest opinion. Secondly, because I already knew I didn’t know what to do with the landscape. That was why I was there, after all. And like I said, I’m not one to give up. Albert did have more encouraging advice for me, though. During the portfolio review session of this workshop, he saw my portrait and figurative work. I saw him smile and he said, “Well, this is why! You are a portrait artist!” I had never considered myself a portrait artist. In fact, portraits and figures intimidated the heck out of me. But Albert saw something there, and so I started to see something there as well. I started to concentrate on the figure and the face, and things took off for me.

Never Give Up 3
Ava in Apricot

I have already expounded in a previous Unison Blog on the fine qualities of the Unison Colour 36 portrait set. But let me say it again – “these colors are luscious!” Throughout are some of my latest pieces working with this set and with other colors in my palette.

Never Give Up 4
Red Scarf

By the way, I still have those early pastel landscape paintings. They are in my box of supplies that I take to workshops when I teach beginning pastels. They have become a very handy tool. I show them to my students about half-way through a workshop, when they may be getting a little frustrated and too self-critical. I think it is important to point out that everyone starts somewhere. You must keep at it, and practice and never give up. You can’t just skip ahead to the part where you’re awesome.

By the way – I still use watercolor, but as an underpainting for my pastel work. Through the Vineyard is an example.

Never Give Up 5
Beginning Landscape I
Never Give Up 6
Beginning Landscape II
Never Give Up 7
Recently completed landscape: Through the Vineyard

Creativity and Plein Air Painting – Oaxaca, Mexico

I was just ready to go somewhere new and exotic.  I don’t even remember how I happened upon this particular retreat, but one day there it was, and I thought about it for only a hot minute before signing up.

Reclaiming a Failed Pastel Painting

Neva does a bit of recycling with old artwork that didn’t make the cut. She goes through the process, step by step, of washing off the old pigment, and utilising the remaining marks, which are almost artwork in themselves!

Announcing More New Associate Artists

We can now announce our second group of new Associate Artists to Unison Colour. Our Associate Artists perform a fantastic role for Unison Colour and we are proud to welcome the following people…

Face-Off event at Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi “Face-off”

I was recently contacted by Gaye Sekula, a co-ambassador for South Texas for the Portrait Society of America (PSoA). She asked for my help in setting up a “Face-off” event on behalf of PSoA here in Corpus Christi, Texas.

If you enjoyed reading this…

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive more blogs like this, as well as other Unison Colour news including upcoming events and exclusive offers.

Use the buttons below to share this blog…

7 Responses

  1. Love this post and the vineyard one has really inspired me for once I can get a delivery of canvases and unison pastels again!

  2. Thanks for sharing that story, made me smile. I’ve given up watercolor to try again with pastels after a very long break. You’re right, never give up, and I don’t …..

  3. I have returned to pastels at age 80. By return I mean I am an untutored, untrained hack
    who enjoyed pastel drawing when I was 30 years old or so. Then my job, my 4 sons my
    motorcycles, traveling, life came along and I just now I began drawing again. Some of
    the things I drew I gave to dear friends who apparently had no talent for judging art but were
    good friends.
    Recently , coming back from Rome I realized how I never stopped loving art , just
    loved my kids more
    They’re grown and doing well now I’m looking at your work and damn you have some
    wonderful talent. I’ll never equal what you do, but who cares, I love it.


  4. Such an honest story that gives encouragement and hope. It’s so easy to become disheartened, but the important message here is don’t give up. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Such an inspiring blog makes me think and will persevere your work with portraits is great something l have never tried because l did not want to fail l think but your comments have given me hope thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Blog Posts

A soft pastel painting of a tree during golden hour.

Discovering Reflected Color

When asked to identify the color of a shadow, it is common to respond that it would be a darker color of whatever is in shadow.  A shadow of a tree on green grass would be a darker green.  A shadow of the same tree on dirt would be a darker brown.

Garden of Colour and Flight

On two sides looking out the windows is the woods, the view begins not four foot off the sidewalls where trees and open forest floor slope up and gently away. When the spring rain comes, water gathers in the high places and forms water falling streams that run toward and alongside the studio heading toward gathering ponds on the lower side.

Log In

When requesting a Password Reset using the 'Lost your password?' option, you'll receive an email with a link to reset your password. It's important to note that if you request multiple emails, only the most recent link will work.

Customer Enquiries

Got a question?

Please don’t hesitate to send us any questions, and we’ll get back to you ASAP.
If you’d rather send us an email, please get in touch at:

Or give us a call on +44 (0)1434 240203 and choose option 1, for Liz.

Trade Enquiries

For trade enquiries, please contact us as below:


[email protected] or call Liz on +44 (0)1434 240203 Option 1

China and Russia
North America
ROW (Exc. China and Russia)