Before we begin the interview, I wanted to share a little background about my interest and experiences with chalk pastels and what inspired me to interview this talented artist and artisan.

Chalk pastels bring back fond memories of a family friend, Helene Brown who gave me my very first set of soft pastels back in the 1960s. They were vibrant, velvety to the touch and a delight to use. I regret not having kept the box as I had not found a brand comparable to them.

The various brands of soft pastels I had worked with over the years in art school and currently as an artist and art teacher, had often been chalky or scratchy. In order to blend colors, different colored sticks had to be shaved into a bowl and applied with the fingers. The unreliable results did not justify the time and mess. As a result, I rarely painted with pastels, and pastel courses offered at my school, Pastimes for a Lifetime were not in great demand.

Thanks to a Facebook post by the Pastel Society of America earlier this year, I learned about the beautiful rich hand-made pastels from a company I had not heard of, Terry Ludwig Pastels. The breathtaking artwork featured in that Facebook post and rave reviews by the artist, intrigued me. When I learned that these pastels were made by hand here in the United States, I had to sample them.

I reached out to the company, advising I am an art teacher and asked if a product sampler might be available for my students and I to try. To my pleasant surprise, the owner himself, Terry Ludwig replied directly. For the cost of shipping, he graciously sent me a sampler box along with helpful information cards about the pigments and their handling.

Terry Ludwig Pastels Samples sent to Pastimes for a Lifetime

Immediately upon opening the box, I could tell these pastels were not your typical commercial grade chalks. I ran my finger over the surface of one of the sticks. The velvety feel reminded me of the set gifted to me by Helene Brown! I was giddy with excitement. I knew these remarkable sticks would rekindle my enjoyment for painting with chalk pastels, and enable me to share that joy with my students.

When I learned of Terry Ludwig’s birthday this week, I wanted to pay homage to his dedication in perfecting and providing top quality pastels to artists worldwide. He and his wife, Marie kindly agreed to this interview which I hope you will enjoy.

Q. I understand that in addition to your artisanal pastel company, you are also a painter. What was your training?

Terry: 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. 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.

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.

Q. What is your style of painting?

Terry: The style of my own artwork is Impressionistic Realism. 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.

Seascape by Terry LudwigMarie's Pride by Terry LudwigPortrait by Terry Ludwig


Q. How did you come to love pastel?

Terry: 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. 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.

Terry Ludwig at the Easel

Q. Your Terry Ludwig pastels are remarkable. How did you first have the idea to start making your own, and did you think your pastels would be appreciated by artists worldwide?

Terry Ludwig Pastels

Terry: 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 get 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 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.

Terry Ludwig Making a Batch of PastelsTerry Ludwig with a Bowl of PigmentTerry Ludwig Pastel Pigment


Q. Marie, you had mentioned in your reply that Terry is also an art teacher. Can you tell me more about this.

Marie: While Terry is an artist, he does not paint on a regular basis and does not show in galleries. His real passion is creating colors, teaching, and helping others make great art.

Terry has taught many workshops all over the United States and, most recently, in Australia. These are usually by invitation of a pastel society. There are no workshops scheduled for 2015 due to the demands of our business.

Last August/September we were in Australia where Terry taught in Tasmania, Melbourne and Adelaide.  While in Melbourne he judged the pastel society art show, did a demo for the society, and then taught a two-day workshop.

Terry Ludwig Lecturing in TasmaniaTerry Ludwig Lectures in Tasmania


Q. Terry, is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?

A. 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. [Tweet “Actually, we have a lot of fun doing what we do.”]

What a treat it was to have interviewed this artisan and artist and his wife. Many thanks to Terry and Marie Ludwig for introducing my readers to your creative world. I hope it inspires them to experiment with your line of chalk pastels. I know I will be doing so.

To learn more, please visit Terry Ludwig’s website and Facebook page. You can also follow his boards in Pinterest.

Did you enjoy this interview? If so, please share it with others.

Were you inspired? Please share your inspiration in the comment section below.

For more on Pastimes for a Lifetime’s Art Curriculum and founder/instructor Linda Wehrli, visit the website or Facebook page.

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