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View Full Version : A Disappointing Purchase


mudfish
08-26-2012, 02:02 PM
Went online the other day to buy a half dozen soft Schminke sticks in super light highlighting colors. While signing in I saw a deal for Art Spectrum Super Soft Highlighting Pastels, set of six, which came free with the purchase of a ten pack of Colourfix paper. Yippee, thinks I, the pastels I want and virtually free sanded paper - a pastelist dream. As with most too good to be true deals, the pastels are nowhere close to what I would term "super soft". They are very light shades; virtually indistinquishable from white on the page. And they come in these horrible plastic wrappers that are hard to remove. Que sera.

Colorix
08-26-2012, 05:33 PM
... and the plastic wrap is sticky as tape, and the stickiness sticks to the sticks.

I maintain that only about 2 nearly white sticks are needed. A white with a tad of yellow ochre in it (warm), another with a grain of blue (cool) or possibly a pure cool white.

So how do you like the paper?

jackiesimmonds
08-26-2012, 06:23 PM
I too found Art Spectrum pastels to be far harder than they obviously think they are. They clearly have never tested their own pastels against a Schminke for softness.

allydoodle
08-26-2012, 09:47 PM
I too found Art Spectrum pastels to be far harder than they obviously think they are. They clearly have never tested their own pastels against a Schminke for softness.

I agree, they're pretty hard, just a tad softer than Rembrandt, but not by much.

... and the plastic wrap is sticky as tape, and the stickiness sticks to the sticks.

I maintain that only about 2 nearly white sticks are needed. A white with a tad of yellow ochre in it (warm), another with a grain of blue (cool) or possibly a pure cool white.


That plastic wrap is nasty, I just peeled a few of mine a few days ago and I was unpleasantly surprised to find goo on the pastel stick. I don't think I would invest in anymore of thse pastels..... I would have to agree with you Charlie, I only stocked my plein air box with a few really light lights, it doesn't take much to get a light spot, all you need is a warm and a cool and you should be fine. At least that's what I'm finding...

mudfish
08-27-2012, 09:58 AM
At least I'm in good company :clap: Two sticks from Schminke, order up!

Studio-1-F
08-27-2012, 01:40 PM
... I maintain that only about 2 nearly white sticks are needed. A white with a tad of yellow ochre in it (warm), another with a grain of blue (cool) or possibly a pure cool white.
You make a excellent point here! I just went back into my plein air + workshop box (http://jan777.blogspot.com/2012/08/dee-lish.html) and weeded out the extraneous whites. I had about 4x what I really needed. (I still prolly have twice what I need.) Thanks, Charlie!

Jan

allydoodle
08-27-2012, 02:08 PM
You make a excellent point here! I just went back into my plein air + workshop box (http://jan777.blogspot.com/2012/08/dee-lish.html) and weeded out the extraneous whites. I had about 4x what I really needed. (I still prolly have twice what I need.) Thanks, Charlie!

Jan

Jan,

I unconciously omitted quite a few lights when I recently set up a new plein air box. Someone pointed it out to me on my thread, but when I thought about it I figured I'd leave it as is for now. Then I see Charlie's comment, and voila! maybe I was on to something and didn't realize it. It seems to make sense, those whiteish colors are so indiscernible that it is often hard to distinguish exact colors, just having a warm and cool seems like it should be enough. I've never purchased a full light set, it always felt like I was just buying a box of white pastels! I do think I may need to add some more darks though..... the lighter midtones seem to go over the darks very nicely and the colors sing better I think..... always experimenting....

@mudfish, order up, you can never go wrong with Schminke! :D

Colorix
08-27-2012, 04:14 PM
Ah, two almost whites are enough, but the next "darker" step, where you can actually *see* the slight tint although they are near whites still -- with those, I tend to have a whooping 4 sticks: a yellowy, a pinky, a bluey, and a yellowy-greeny. (No use for a cool green, or a violet, as the blue works well for that.)

At the other end, the near blacks, basically the same principle works well. If you can only pick out the hue of a very dark colour under strong light when you hover over the painting, then what use is 30 darks when viewed from across the room, when all look just... black anyway?

The mid-darks are not part of this. I'm talking about those two values next to black on a value scale.

Then, I'm kind of fond of a certain minimalism. Motto: If you don't have the colour, you combine two or more other sticks to make the colour.

This is a personal preference, as many pastel artists feel they really need a lots of sticks. It all depends on how we choose to work, and neither is right or wrong.

Ruthie57
08-27-2012, 04:59 PM
I find art spectrum pastels rather variable. Some are quite soft but many are scratchy and I don't like them, especially the blues. As for lights, yep, I have way too many. Only if you compare them closely with each other can you see the hue variations and, on the paper, well, cool and warm is all you need. I have set aside two lights, cool and warm, to use with my Roché pastels as I don't have any real lights in those.
I'm realising more and more that I have altogether too many pastels....yet I never have the exact colour which I want!!!

By the way, I'm using Firefox tonight as IE is playing up. It seems to have a spell check and has underlined colour in red!!! Funny as that is the original, and correct, way of spelling colour :smug:

bluefish
08-27-2012, 06:14 PM
oh Ruthie.......how many times do I have to explain......it's 'color', even Charlie gets it right now and then!......:D

rugman
08-27-2012, 08:23 PM
Yes, art specs are pretty hard. They are, however a great tool to have. Because of their hardness, they glaze well over other colors (or colours? :) ); escpecially on sanded sufaces. Like highlights on grassy fields, where its fairly dark in the "underneath" of the grasses. They deposit colors ( or colours), which skip over suface and leave dry, sparkling colors (or colours). Whereas the Sminkies seem to clog the sandy grain of paper, at least with my clumsy, heavy hands.

The sticky from the label is a pain. I just use utility knife (box cutter) and scrape off stickyness. Usually right before breaking stick in half or thirds.

I am finding over time, that tints are becoming more handy on complex paintings, where you can paint yourself into a corner by running out of values and colors (or colours). Paintings where more "subtlies" are needed. They can be helpful in broken color (or colour) where you need to save saturated pigments for focal areas. But, you can get by without to many of them.

mudfish
08-27-2012, 11:09 PM
Good point Ron (or is it Roun?). They'll get used somewhere. Charlie asked about the paper; I've used it for a long while and have liked it UNTIL I recently tried some wet techniques on it and it disintegrated - big hole right thru it! I thought surely this must be what people were using for wet underpaintings as its watercolor paper, but apparently, I'm wrong about that as well.

rugman
08-28-2012, 12:44 AM
Good point Ron (or is it Roun?).

LOL, good one!

Is it Blue or Bloughe? :D

(Please understand Im not making fun of our friends in Europe, just razzin Blue a bit!)

Jayde
08-28-2012, 03:34 AM
oh Ruthie.......how many times do I have to explain......it's 'color', even Charlie gets it right now and then!......:D
Queen's English bluefish. It was colour long before you Yanks decided to adulterate the spelling :p

Colorix
08-28-2012, 04:13 AM
oh Ruthie.......how many times do I have to explain......it's 'color', even Charlie gets it right now and then!......:D I do?? =:-o I do declare: It is the fault of those red squigglies, or automatic "corrections" inbuilt in the system, I'm innocent! I'll go French, then: couleur! We learn the Bard's English in school (or did, in my time, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, and we had tv but no computers). So I take the tram downtown about every fortnight, in the forenoon, where I change to the underground. I just told my neighbour that, as we were chatting over the fence between our gardens. Ahem, seriously. Roun :-), absolutely, every pastel brand have something they are better at than other brands. And heavy-handedness is a good reason for using harder pastels. The good news is that it only takes about 5 years to train away the urge to press the stick to the paper "for king and country". Nowadays, I can lightly caress the paper with a stick, barely touching it, and then the supersofties work well.

Turpintine45
08-28-2012, 04:22 AM
:lol: :lol: :lol: got my Kindle spelling programmed for Oxford English and I ignore my iPad correction for very colour I write!

Studio-1-F
08-28-2012, 11:01 AM
. . . I do think I may need to add some more darks though..... the lighter midtones seem to go over the darks very nicely and the colors sing better I think..... always experimenting....
At the other end, the near blacks, basically the same principle works well. If you can only pick out the hue of a very dark colour under strong light when you hover over the painting, then what use is 30 darks when viewed from across the room, when all look just... black anyway? . . . . Then, I'm kind of fond of a certain minimalism. Motto: If you don't have the colour, you combine two or more other sticks to make the colour.
Expanding on these two comments for just a moment (sorry! thread hijacking! my bad!), let's say okay you need a very, very dark burgundy passage. In the minimalist mode you'd lay down an all-purpose neutral near-black and then lightly caress ( :thumbsup: ) on a lighter value red to get to the dark burgundy you need? Without lightening the value?

In theory it sounds really useful for plein air. I am going to have to play around to see if it works. I am always reaching for the very, very dark burgundy. Rather than thinking of color layering over a neutral near-black.

Jan

(do I getta trophy for not using the word "color/"colour" at all? thank you, thank you! [bowing])

Colorix
08-28-2012, 12:24 PM
Burgundy as in wine, Jan? That would be a deep red hue (!), of a darkish value (!), a bit dulled down, and leaning towards purple but with warmth in it.

If it was a single stroke or so, for a detail, I'd grab a burgundy stick. But if it is for a mass, large or small, I personally would avoid a black, or a near black. Knowing that complementaries darken when mixed (even mixed optically, in the eye) one can build up a really dark hue (!) with, say, one's deepest red, with a bit of green. I'm thinking of a green which isn't too yellow, but more neutral or bluish. And if it gets too much of anything (green or violet), then one can restate the red, lightly. And an orange if it needs to be warmed up and a blue if it needs serious cooling down.

(A very violet red and a viridian green gives really cool greys, instantly.)

To me, the resulting area of hue/croma/value (hah!) is vibrant and exciting.

Sticks can be used for glazing (more smooth look), or scumbled (interesting look), or applied with spaced/adjacent/overlapping strokes (really interesting lively surface).

And if I had a really limited palette, like 20 sticks with limited value range, I may have to use black and white. For more vibrancy (!), I'd put down the black as an underpainting, and not use it on top of the sticks.

(Jan, I think we'll share the trophy!)

bluefish
08-28-2012, 01:37 PM
Jan and Charlie...very colorful comments.......you both deserve a trophy :clap:

ta, ta........:lol:

bluefish
08-28-2012, 02:07 PM
Ron

you may have 'Bloughefish' out there in the lakes of Wyoming, but in the vast pond separating 'color' and 'colour' , we have schools of those wonderful 'bluefish'......:D

on the east side of Bermuda, it's 'colour', west of Bermuda, it's 'color'!......see ,you learn so much on this site everyday.....stay tuned.....;)

Ruthie57
08-28-2012, 04:58 PM
Blue, I thought you may turn up at the mention of the C word :wave::lol: :D

Donna A
08-28-2012, 06:06 PM
Some years ago I had an artist studying with me who, at the time, could only afford a 12-stick box of pastels (her husband had quit work to go back to school.) She did amazing things with only those 12 colors---but bought hundreds more as soon as she could! I have some 4800 or so different sticks of pastels from mainly complete sets of 24 or 25 professional brands---on 2 banks of tables on either side of my pastel easel---and the Art Spectrum pastels are my favorite. The extra-extra-extra soft pastels are nice, but to get them that soft, so much other 'stuffff" has to be added that is not COLOR! (or for those for whom it's appropriate---COLOUR or COULEUR or....!) I can build up 10-15-20-plus layers of color with the Art Spectrums as needed! I LOVE the vibrancy of the colors. I have found that the dark Thalo Green is a bit hard---which is typical of the Thalo pigment, but their extra-dark Thalo goes on beautifully.

I was very happy when the warm and cool extra-soft whites were introduced---and even happier when they expanded their extra-soft whites to 12 (6 cool and 6 warm.) But then some folks are more colorists and some others are more oriented with other impact---and all can be beautiful. Snow scenes, white gowns and table cloths---even a white cat---are especially delicious to paint with the 12 extra-soft whites added to the other colors! But if 2 extra whites are enough to get what you want, that's marvelous!

I really like my Terry Ludwigs, Mount Visions and Unisons, but have definitely placed my Art Spectrums on my tables to my immediate right because those are the ones I use THE most by far. And for my travel set, I use pretty much only my Art Spectrums.

I know that a lot of folks think that the very, very softest are the best---just cuz they're "soft," but I'd rather dull down a color on purpose than to have to begin with it. And I like the control I have with these pastels that many artists don't always have with the really soft sticks.

I have had to rub several sticks (out of sooo many hundreds I've gone thru) against a fine sand paper to clear up part of the sides---but I LOVE having the wrapper to tear off on purpose rather than slip off sooo easily as has happened with other brands---both for me and for the artists who study with me. But I've never---in the over-10-years that I've used them---had the struggle with getting the wrapper off. I do peel the wrapper with the dotted lines, which works beautifully. Some folks end up in anguish for having lost the info on what stick that is when it comes time to replace it. I leave on the half of the wrapper that has the name and number when I break my sticks in half. When I have used up most of the peeled half-stick, I peel the other half after noting the name/number I need to order. I often use the tips of my pastel to build up a network of strokes rather than always use my sticks on the side. So this works great, for whichever way I'm using each stick.

I LOVE the vibrancy of the Art Spectrums! Sooo rich! And, while I've experimented with every paper that's come out, I find the Colourfix the most marvelous---both for the texture and for the 20 different colors in the original Colourfix and the 6 additional colors plus black and white in the softer Suede Colourfix surface (which works beautifully for sticks and for PanPastel!) And I have also found it sooo handy to be able to sand down the original Colourfix paper when I've wanted a softer surface before the Suede.

Art Spectrum pastels are great---and I speak as someone who has most every pro stick ever made within immediate reach. It comes down to personal preferences. I love the richness of the color and the way I can build up layer after layer---and not worry about the muddying effects of the things added into the pastels to let them feel softer. Well, I love so many things about them. Whatever we are using---ENJOY! Donna ;-}

rugman
08-28-2012, 08:59 PM
Blue- yes, so much to learn everyday here in this forum. Between you and Charlie, I no longer need to go to college for marine biology or color theory or art history!! :) Oh, and proper English grammer. Oh, and trivial facts about Bermuda. Wont be long, and I'll qualify to appear on Jeopardy show.

oops, sorry...colour theory..

Colorix
08-29-2012, 06:43 AM
@Donna A: Great input, this really makes excellent sense:

but to get them that soft, so much other 'stuffff" has to be added that is not COLOR!

I find that to be extra noticeable in the tints, as they weaken way too much. I come from oil-painting, and I really dislike the chalkiness (in look) of the lighter tints. Glazing with oils give so much more depth to a colour.

And even with the more full strength hues, what you say happens:
but I'd rather dull down a color on purpose than to have to begin with it
Very much true for me too.

And I'm also amazed that people think the super-softies are "better", as such. The best stick or brand is the one that does the effect one wants. Supersofties are great for highlights, and for impasto effects.

One thing I like with the (few) Roché pastels I have is that they are hardish, but release colour easily, and the tints are not so washed out and chalky. They use something else, than other brands, to make the tints.

In Europe, the most pigment rich artist quality brands seem to be Roché, Girault, and Sennelier. All of them are French, and not super soft.