Today we’re taking a look at the Smart Art Box for July 2015. The folks over at smart art box liked my last video so much that they’ve asked me to make more. While these boxes are only available within the US, I figured they would still be fun for everyone because I get to test out different supplies each month and tell you about them. This month’s box focused on artist Edgar Degas, and came with everything needed to complete our own dancer in pastels. It came with a 6 pack of Richeson Handmade Medium-soft pastels, a 12 piece set of Derwent Pastel pencils and blocks, soft tools kinfe and covers, and a Canson Mi-Teintest board in black.

Now I have experience with soft pastels, but I don’t personally work in them anymore because I have a bit (haha, a “bit” is a “bit” of an understatement) of an issue with the feel of them on my hands. The dryness freaks me out. Badly. Some people have nightmares about spiders, I have nightmares about dry hands…and my teeth breaking, but that’s a whole other video. The funny thing is though that every time I see some of the beautiful work other artists produce with pastels, I think “maybe I could deal with it!!” This month’s box allowed me test out that theory. Two things happened. I had a blast playing with them to create my dancer, and I realized that I still can’t stand the feel of them on my hands. The good news was that this set came with the soft tools knife set that I had never used before. It worked out REALLY nicely with the pastels. More so than any other tool I’ve used to blend with besides my hands. The Derwent pastels were also very different than what I’ve used in the past. They were much harder than the soft pastels I had previously used, making them a less messy. The hard pastel blocks in that set were much cleaner to use than the soft pastels. I found that if I laid them down first, I could easily layer the softer pastels over them, but if I laid the soft pastels down first, the Derwent didn’t really stick to them.

The thing that I’m enjoying so much about these boxes is that they come with a lesson plan that breaks down step by step what to do with each medium. Between that lesson plan, and being able to try a random new medium each month, these really are a lot of fun. For me, because I keep my work very detailed and spend so long on each piece, having a sort of assignment with these supplies that encourages different styles is really enjoyable. I spent an hour or so playing with my ballerina. Because I was working more impressionistically, I focused more on my lighting than detail which helps when you move back to realism. Having a good grasp of contrast and lighting is so huge in creating realistic works, and working loosely and quickly like this in this medium was a great little lesson for me. Even though I so dislike the feel of them on my hands, I could see myself possibly working more in this medium just for doing quick design ideas (probably with gloves on my hands…although I dislike that feel too). The pastels lay down so quickly and erase so easily that they make a perfect tool for both finished works and quick color compositions.  Now if I could just get over my OCD about clean hands and dust.

If you’re within the US and you want to order a smart art box subscription, I have an affiliate link below. If you order through that link I get a little bit of a commission off of your order. To be clear, this isn’t enough for me to give a dishonest review on a product. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to buy something that I didn’t like myself 🙂

Sign up for your own Smart Art Box!