View Full Version : Metallic substance in pastels?

02-08-2014, 01:49 PM
Hi, I was wondering if anyone could help me figure out what's going on with some of my pastels. I'm somewhat of a beginner, working with pastels on and off over the past year. Just a couple of days ago I really started noticing that in using my reds, I could use them for a few strokes and then there is a dark metallic sheen that builds up on the surface of the pastel - the stick itself, and if I keep using it, it coats the drawing as well. I can scrape it off, but after a few more strokes it's there again. Is this just a normal thing with reds, something in red pigment, or is it a matter of quality? They are from my set of Rembrandts, if that makes any difference.

02-08-2014, 08:23 PM
Ah, you're working on "ordinary" paper, not a sanded paper, something like Canson Mi-Teintes or an Ingres. It happens with some reds, some yellows, and some blues. The stick is a bit too hard for the paper, so the friction makes the pastel to sinter.

Shift to a paper with more tooth, and then it will not happen.

02-09-2014, 08:48 PM
That's really interesting, Charlie. Thanks for telling me too. I had that effect a while ago and adapted by using those colors less often and less heavily - when I'm on ordinary paper my layers aren't very heavy at all and I do more blending on underlayers leaving the top ones all fluffy and obvious strokes.

I have seen that effect and you're right. I never get it on the coated and sanded papers or the really rough brown paper I used for most of my sketches in the past couple years.

02-10-2014, 03:55 AM
I remember years ago when I first started I was painting strictly still life on Canson MT paper, and the reds were extremely difficult to work with. I never had a problem with yellows or blues, just reds. Painting a red apple was a challenge. I ended up buying a nice selection of Schmincke reds, as I found they were beautiful to work with and didn't have that 'hard' feeling to them. I didn't like Rembrandt reds (or Nupastel reds for that matter), I avoided them like the plague. It seemed that even Girault reds had that same 'hard' quality. If you have access to Schmincke, their reds might be a nice addition to your palette. They work beautifully on Canson MT paper (if that is what you are using). As Charlie said, this doesn't seem to happen on toothier surfaces (like sanded papers). Nowadays I have added softer pastels like Mount Vision, Ludwig, and Great American to my palette. I have plenty of soft reds to choose from, in addition to Schmincke (which I still love).

02-16-2014, 12:41 AM
Thank you, Charlie and Chris, for the input! I will definitely have to look into some different papers, and possibly try some softer reds, since I have so much Canson paper.