Creative eCourses

written by Sophie | Pastel

Ever since I decided to create a pastel painting course I have been wondering how to do this. So many painting courses (or any course for that matter) follow the same formula: a teacher explains in front of an easel (whiteboard, powerpoint presentation, etc) and then asks the students to go out and do it themselves. I suppose to explain, demonstrate and send students off to follow suit is a tried and tested method of teaching. Yet it feels a little bit stale. I don't think the teacher will notice me nodding off in the back....

Now I have not solved this issue yet. But I have come across some amazing guys who helped me put some creative fire into my plans. The guys from eCourse Adventures (an online course about course making) really turned a lightbulb on in my head. I realised that a course could be as much fun and have as much beauty as any other 'product' that I create (ie art works). In other words, it could be created with as much creativity, fun and games as anything else. 

Why not put as much creativity in creating an eCourse as in creating a painting? Now I am no expert in teaching or education and I won't fool myself I could create something as epic. But what I can take away from this idea is that an eCourse could be whole lot more than just a teacher standing in front of an easel and handing out PDF's. 

And so I created The Pastel Place. A place in an imaginary world - somewhere half way towards a stereotypical French town, retro style, where we might bump into Gene Kelly (why not, a girl can dream!). A world where everything is rosy, happy and colourful (and a bit dusty from the pastel sticks - but that's ok because there is a fountain to wash it all off).  A place we want to visit again and again because it feels welcoming, fun (and perhaps a tad silly) and where we can learn an awful lot about pastel. Every time you visit you will feel inspired to get painting and you'll want to come back again and again.

The Pastel Place is a painted imaginary world - painted in pastel of course. It looks like a small town square and around it we can find some buildings: the pastel studios, the art materials shop, the pastel museum and more. We will visit each place and learn about pastel or practice our painting skills. 

Of course we still teach the lessons. And yes, I will probably be standing in front of an easel telling you how it is done (I'll keep the wagging finger out) and I will send the students on their way to go and practice what they've learned. But if ever I find a way to do this differently I will!  

Published: March 12, 2019

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  1. Thank you for being so generous with your time! I am an artist and am blocked at present. I just discovered Dame Paula Rego and have decided to try soft pastel. I am unable to use oil paint due to toxicity. Hence for a while now I have been drawing with watercolour/acrylic and in separate works–pencil and ink/brush. I love drawing the figure. My first drawings were copies of Degas's dancers, Michelangelo, and Rodin. I work also in collage.

    I am struggling with this new medium. Using colour is posing a major problem. And I am very impatient! I draw very sculpturally and now that I have colour in the mix my surfaces are all over the place. I like the idea of layering and leaving the individual marks. But invariably I start smudging in desperation. I guess I am not quite sure how to proceed. Rego has a lot of textiles in her work as do you. Again I am not sure where to begin. I watched your video on drawing lace.
    I guess the moral of the story is practice! And persevere even when frustrated.



  2. I have a question about your art program. I have done some pastels in years past and have been doing mostly watercolor in the last few years. I would like to go back to pastels and eventually combine soft pastels with pan pastels and even water color. Do you offer a way to integrate these media in your instruction at some point?

    1. Hi Linda! Thanks for your question. I don’t teach such specific and unique combinations, no. I mainly teach the fundamentals of painting; value, colour, block-in, details, shape and form. These principles are applicable to any painting medium, so I am sure it will be useful! In my pastel courses we explore everything soft pastel (sticks): types (hard and soft), papers (sanded and drawing paper), application techniques, pastel old masters, colour, value, edges, under paintings, colour mixing etc. Many of my art school students work in a variety of art materials, definitely not just pastel. I hope this helps but let me know if you have any more questions.
      Check out my online art school at

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