Terry Ludwig Pastels welcomes interviews with appropriate media! We love sharing our passion for pastels with the artist community at large. Here are some recent articles that have featured our pastels.

A display of pastels is like a candy store for artists! Photo by Richard Jensen.

A display of pastels is like a candy store for artists! Photo by Richard Jensen.

“The Willy Wonka of Pastels”–The Artist Network

“Most artists who work in pastel become addicted to the medium. Those magical sticks of pure pigment are so luscious; it’s like candy for artists,”writes well known pastel artist Richard McKinley for a recent article for the Artist Network.

“Recently, I was fortunate to be instructing in the Denver Colorado area and was able to tour, along with the workshop participants, one of the most popular pastel manufacturers in the United States,” writes McKinley. “To see Terry’s pastels displayed is to understand the association to a candy store. Boxes of every hue of the rainbow in various value ranges are set out in a tabletop sea of temptation. They simply demand attention.”

Richard McKinley has more than 35 years of experience teaching beginner and experienced pastel artists. He is also a 2010 Hall of Fame inductee of the Pastel Society of America as well as a Signature Distinguished Pastelist with the Pastel Society of the West Coast. He is also author of “Pastel Pointers” and a how-to book and DVD collection for pastel artists. This book and DVD series covers everything from the fundamentals to get you going (how to lay out your palette, create an underpainting, evoke luminous effects) to inspirations that will keep you growing. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced painter, this is your guide to making the most of pastels.

Terry Ludwig explains the manufacturing process. Photo by Randy Jensen.

Terry Ludwig explains the manufacturing process. Photo by Randy Jensen.

“Having a tour of Terry Ludwig Pastels is like finding the golden certificate that gained entrance into the scrumptious world of the Willy Wonka Chocolate factory,” McKinely writes.  “Terry just may be the Willy Wonka of pastels, making sticks that are filled with wonder and creative possibilities.” Read more.

Piedmont Pastel Society Profiles Terry Ludwig

Where are you originally from? If you’re a transplant, how did you end up in your current area?

I grew up in Calumet City, IL  near Gary, IN, where my dad worked in the steel mills. It took only one summer of working there myself to know that wasn’t going to be a career choice for me. I had always loved art, and it was my mother that guided me to follow that interest. I attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago. As we all know, a person does not receive an art education, and move forward from there to make a living. The only job I could find that used any of my skills was drafting box cars. Not what I wanted to do either.

After marrying, Marie and I moved to Minneapolis, MN and then to Minocqua, WI, where I worked route sales selling butcher supplies to butcher shops. Eventually we made the wise decision to live where it didn’t snow quite so much and there was at least some sunshine, so in 1972 we packed up the kids and moved to Littleton, Co. Although I supported my family as an agent with Farmers Insurance Group for 25 years, I always enjoyed painting in my free time, and became involved in the art community in Denver, where I am a charter member of the Arts Students League.

Tell me about your family (include pets)?

Marie and I have two children a son, Geoff, and daughter, Kristen, both of whom are very creative, and it shows in their careers. We also have a 10 year old grandson, Whit, a real joy in our family. Both of our kids are married to great people, and we are fortunate to have them living in the Denver area. At one time, both Kristen and her husband, Bill, were intricately involved in Terry Ludwig Pastels, and some of you may remember them.

There was also our six pound Schoodle (Schnauzer/Poodle) who had a very big personality. For several years, Noel was a “greeter dog” at Terry Ludwig Pastels, and many of our customers still ask about “that cute little dog that was purple.”  Noel has since gone to Doggie Heaven.

What style of art do you enjoy?

The style of my own artwork is Impressionistic Realism so, obviously, that is what I most enjoy. I appreciate the looseness of it; conveying an image that the viewer needs to fill-in in their own way. Each little detail doesn’t need to be added to the painting, and the viewer can appreciate it as a complete painting. Of course, I also enjoy many other styles as long as they read well.

How did you come to love pastels?

I was a happy oil painter for 35 years until one day I was plein air painting with my friend, Lorenzo Chavez, and noticed he was making scratching noises at his easel while I was busy working with my oil paints. When I asked him what he was doing, he said he was using pastels, and suggested that I try them, which I did. With almost the first stroke I was hooked. I liked the immediacy of the medium, the intensity of the color, and the way it laid down on my surface.

Your portrait paintings are amazing, and your Pastels aren’t so bad either. When painting portraits, what results do pastels give you that are different from results when using other mediums?

Pastels are dry; therefore, they are not laying down flat like oils, and the facets of color are picking up the light making the results more interesting than other mediums.

Your Terry Ludwig Pastels are remarkable. Every pastelist I know has 1, 3, or 10 sets of your pastels. You have inspired many artists! How did you first have the idea to start making your own, and did you think your pastels would be so loved worldwide?

First of all, thank you. Initially, I started making pastels for my own use because I was frustrated that I couldn’t get the colors I was able to make when I mixed my oil paints. It was a long process of talking to many people. Each telephone conversation led me to another person who had another piece of the puzzle. Then, of course, there was trial and error in a little room in the basement.

I had so much fun making pastels; I assumed there were others who would like to know how to make them, so I put together a kit of materials and started teaching workshops on How to Make Pastels. Pretty soon, my students started calling me to make a particular color for them. My response would be “you took the workshop; you know how to make them.” However, it seems they didn’t want to take the time or make the mess that making pastels requires. So, I started making them for myself and my friends in my basement.

As I took over more and more of the basement with pastels on long tables, Marie said I had to get out of the house; well the pastels had to go, anyway. It was my son-in-law, who recognized that making pastels could become a business. So we moved the pastels out of the basement and leased a very small workshop in a light industrial area. Over the years, our business has grown immensely, thanks to our great customers.

I never had any thought that Terry Ludwig Pastels would become a real business, let alone become highly respected, but it is very gratifying.

Today, the pastel medium has the respect and attention of the world. What do you think put pastels on the map and gained the appreciation of art critics? (people, events, products?)

Although the history of pastels goes a long way back in history, today there are many new surfaces to paint on and a wider range of colors are being produced. As more artists have started to use pastels the excitement for the medium grows. There are also many new techniques that various artists are using and teaching which generates interest. The realization that pastels can be used as a wet medium as well as dry is an important new concept.

I believe Pastel Societies and the organization International Association of Pastel Societies have done a good job of promoting not only the medium, but also the education and encouragement of pastel artists. There is a unique sense of community in the pastel world. We encourage each other and celebrate the large and small successes of other artists.

Who are your favorite Artists?

Of the old timers, John Singer Sargent is my lifelong favorite. When Marie and I took a trip to London, I was thrilled to “happen” upon a show of Sargent’s work at the Tate Museum. It was amazing. As far as current artists, some of my favorites are Harley Brown, Lorenzo Chavez, Liz Haywood-Sullivan and Quang Ho. However, every day I see art by people that are well-known and those who are not-so-well-known, that I admire. 

Many years ago while I attended the American Academy of Art, William Mosby was my instructor. He certainly was a big influence at that time and continues to be. He insisted that we learn the basics, which has been invaluable to my art as well as making pastels. Making those color charts was such a drag at the time, but it is what makes all of this possible.

What inspires you?

I love color, the combination of colors, and creating new colors. The play between warm and cool colors inspires me and sends me back to the workshop to work out yet another color. I am inspired by a new color that I see in nature, and by color I see in faces with character.

Other artists inspire me. Helping them make better art makes me happy.

Which of your paintings is your favorite and why (could be a few)?

A number of years ago I painted Calla Lillies for a public TV fund raiser. Secretly, I was happy that painting did not sell; after the show ended, I purchased it back. I like the contrast of color and the use of soft edges.

My favorite subject to paint is portraits because of the use of color, and the demand on my drawing skills. I appreciate the subtle changes in a person’s face, and always carry a small pad of paper to sketch interesting faces that I see. You might find me sketching in an airport, in a restaurant, or even in church.

Anything else you’d like people to know about you?

There are many people who have been on this journey with me. Certainly, my family is the most important of them. Our kids have contributed in a number of ways, and Marie worked for 15 years to support us while I played with pastels. She has encouraged me and even pushed me forward when I needed to be pushed. In April of 2012 she “retired” from her job to join me at Terry Ludwig Pastels. As president of our business, she has proven herself to be pretty savvy in business and marketing, which cannot be said of me.

Importantly, we have been fortunate to have wonderful, dedicated employees. They work hard to make pastels, ship them all over the world, and take care of the “business of pastel making” while maintaining great attitudes. Actually, we have a lot of fun doing what we do.

Reprinted with permission.