I have now worked out how to use the pastels (I think). I carried out an abortive attempt the day before yesterday to draw a mountain landscape. The distant mountains, a patch of sky and the water had real promise but I left the front of the picture covered in brown squiggles (mud) for later work with some gorse bushes.
My brown was somewhat terracotta so I bought a few green and brown Unison (nothing to do with the trade union) and Sennelier pastels yesterday.
Last night I came back and drew a really crummy tree. I realised that I'd overworked the front of the picture with soil, and the mountains/snow too early so I was unable to add the trees and gorse bushes out front. However, it was a definitely an improvement over the powdery first attempts.
I probably should stick with a medium I'm good with to start off (watercolours and/or oils) but it's a challenge to see if I can get it to work (esp. since pastels are supposed to be easier to work than oils/watercolours [and presumably silk])! Also, pastels can be taken pretty much anywhere and worked directly, and are colourful (I'm really bad at monochrome and esp. monochrome shadows).
I've worked out, like fashion, the trick seems to be that less is more, i.e. produce an outline in fine pastel pencil (colour irrelevent), begin with a faint suggestion of colour/shading in harder pastels (my Faber Castell student half-sticks) and aim for the suggestion of reality whilst covering as little as the paper as possible with pastel. This leaves a soft, luminescent image rather than a muggy brown smudge.
Apologies to anyone who reads this for the insufferable focus upon the use of varying art materials...
Links for the day are this and this (insulting Veritas/Kilroy-Silk songs).