Shepherd, Soft Pastel… On my twelfth birthday, my grandfather gave me a collection of my first “real” art supplies. Never doing anything halfway, he went to a local art store to have a professional choose the best materials: a selection of nice brushes, a set of watercolors in tubes and in a pan, acrylic paint, oil paint, canvases, papers, a set of drawing pencils, erasers, and a large box of pastels. With that gift, I moved from the childhood world of drawing cartoon characters with a #2 pencil to exploring the world of fine art. Years later, after I had painted and sketched the days away, I finally picked up the untouched box of pastels. But what to draw? It was my sophomore year of college, and I had recently returned from a Jan-term trip to Jordan and Syria (where, incidentally, I met my husband, a fellow student). There were so many new memories forever burned into my mind, but one stood out, and still does to this day: standing atop a golden ridge, looking out as the amber sun set over the Dead Sea, viewing the Bedouin caves from above, and spotting a flock of goats and sheep with their robed shepherd in the valley below. It was a beautiful moment, rich in color, that became the subject of my first pastel drawing with my first set of pastels. I have drawn it several times since, and it has become a repeated special request from my grandmother. The image has been altered as my hand has gathered new techniques and greater knowledge over the years, but here is a version from today, commissioned as a gift, sitting atop the greatest treasures of my much-expanded collection of art supplies: my Sennelier Soft Pastels.