View Full Version : how to better detrmine temp

08-31-2014, 08:29 AM
I'm having a rather difficult time differentiating between a 'cool' color and a 'warm' color.
I've read several books on this but I was looking at Jackies examples on page 47 in "Pastel Workbook" and without knowing the color, it's hard to see the difference in several of them.
Any suggestions? For some reason, this is just eluding me and I'm positive it's something so simple.

08-31-2014, 12:09 PM
The really simple way to determine color temperature:

Red, orange, yellow are warm.

Green, blue, violet are cool.

Now take those six colors. Split them into a 12 color wheel. Each of them has a warm or cool version. With two primaries in the Warm side, how artists look at this varies on which one is the "most warm" but it's easy to tell what's th most cool - blue. So any color that migrates toward warm on the wheel is the "Warm Version."

This is why when people say "cool blue" or "warm blue" you need to look at their context to see which is warm. I think of violet-blue as "cool blue" but many artists especially in UK think of that as "warm blue" because red's seen as more warm than yellow. Or because ice is greenish blue, that's sometimes mentioned.

So it's important to be aware that on blue, there's disagreement and you have to choose for yourself whether the greenish or purplish blue is the warm one. Doesn't matter what you choose as long as you stay consistent.

If you actually paint out the 12 color wheel, you can see that "warm" and "cool" in a color that's in the opposite category is just "moves closer to its nearest neighbor." The diagram helps in keeping track of it. But blue is subject to some disagreement and like any classification system, people will get used to their familiar one and be less comfortable with the other.

That's the thing that gets the most confusing. It's easier for me to just accept that's confusing and sometimes I just don't call blues warm or cool but just go by the color cast to be specific - greenish blue, purplish blue avoids any confusion.

But the terms are used both for "the warm colors" and "The warmer cast of a color group." When a color's called Spectrum it doesn't lean either way. You could really separate blue into green-blue, spectrum blue and purple-blue. But that'd be an 18 color wheel. Usually for painting the 12 color wheel really works.

There's a good explanation in more depth in "ESP: Still Life the Colourful Way" in the Soft Pastel Learning Center. At the start Colorix gave a good pastel palette of about 40 sticks with Rembrandt color numbers and then showed the 12 color wheel and a wonderful lecture on it. That cleared it all up for me and brought a lot of things together to make sense.

Neutral colors can be categorized that way by what color wheel hue they most resemble, like an orange-brown or a greenish gray.

08-31-2014, 12:38 PM
One reason for the confusion is that there are several different systems and interpretations floating out there.

One that works for me is to divide the wheel as Robert described in his excellent post above.

I decided that the system by Wilcox (Yellow and Blue Don't Make Green -- his book) makes sense. Orange is warmest, and blue (like cobalt blue) is coolest. A violet-blue (French Ultramarine) as well as a green-blue (Cerulean) are both warmer than the near pure blue, because they are a step away from the blue and thus one step closer to orange. A yellow-green is cooler than a green-yellow, because of where they are placed on the circle -- the green-yellow is closer to orange. It depends on the direction a colour leans.

And it makes most sense comparing them to each other, hence the warmer than or cooler than some other colour.

It also follows that -- in spite of the enforced split division between Y, O, R (warm) vs V, B, G (cool) -- there in reality are two more ambiguous areas where cool red meets warm violet, as well as where cool yellow meets warm green. Especially those colours appear either as warm or cool depending on the colours they are surrounded by on the paper. A very warm red-violet (like Magenta) is very cool on top of yellows and oranges, while it looks positively hot on top of blues.

It is this relativity that makes colour tricky, and the effects of simultaneous contrast (what surrounds a colour changes its apparent appearence).

08-31-2014, 01:20 PM
As Robert mentioned, the terms warm and cool are used in two different ways. There are warm colors (yellow, orange red) and cool colors (green, blue, violet). That's pretty simple. But people do refer to warm and cool versions of individual colors. Perhaps it is better to say warmER and coolER versions to make it easier. If we decide that orange is the warmest color, then any color that moves closer to orange on the color wheel is warmer. Any color that moves closer to blue is cooler.

Here are 3 "yellows":


In the center we have a fairly "straight" yellow. On the left is a color better described as yellow-orange. On the color wheel, this color moves closer to orange compared to the straight yellow, thus is a warmer yellow.
On the right is a color that is more yellow-green. Green is farther from orange and moving towards blue on the color wheel (than straight yellow), thus is cooler yellow.

Here's one more example:


Three greens - with first on the left is a more yellow-green - closer to orange on the color wheel and warmer than the other two greens. On the right is a blue-green, closer to blue on the color wheel and thus cooler than the other two greens.

Since all 3 of these greens are farther from orange on the color wheel than the 3 yellows shown above, they are all cooler than the yellows. So it is all about comparison, rather than strictly defining colors as warm or cool.

Blues, in my opinion, are all cool and defining one as warmer or cooler is where most of the confusion regarding warm and cool comes from. It is better to just decide if the blue you want or need to use is more of a blue-green, blue, or blue-violet.

With violets, if it is more reddish then it is closer to orange and warmer, if it is closer to blue then it's cooler. Reds closer to orange are warmer and reds closer to violet are cooler. Oranges are all warm, and similar to blue, trying to define warmer and cooler is only confusing, in my opinion.

Hope this makes sense. And also keep in mind that warm and cool are based on each artists interpretation of what is warmer and cooler. Some will say that yellow is the warmest, others may say red. So you will define color temperature based on your perceptions.


P.S. I see while I was composing this post, that Charlie has answered far more succinctly than I! Hopefully we are all on the same page, so to speak!

Barbara WC
08-31-2014, 02:11 PM
This is such a tough concept to grasp with until you've been painting awhile.

I was just teaching my 13 yr. old niece about warm and cool colors recently when she visited me from out of state. She found it confusing, until I told her to remember this: Colors in the sunset (orange, yellow and red) are warm, colors of the ocean (cold water) are cool: blue, green and violet.

The only way she really understood how to differentiate a cool versus warm red or blue, was for me to get out my color wheel. An artist color wheel is one of the best investments I've made, I use one like this: http://www.dickblick.com/products/artists-color-wheel/

When I was learning color, I would hold up my paint swatch or pastel stick up to the color wheel and try to figure out which color it most resembled on the color wheel. It will not be exact, but you will be able to tell a warm orange from a cool orange this way.

Hope this helps!

09-01-2014, 01:53 AM
Yes, yes, yes! Thanks for adding more, all three of you! I was going to come back and mention that there's a big 12 color wheel up in the Spotlight this month that Don used to explain the color Blue, this month's theme. I am with Charlie on Blue-Orange as the warm-cool split, although I will usually paint the wheel with Yellow at the top and Violet on the bottom so the value shifts are vertical.

Yellow is the lightest pure hue with the shortest value range, Blue or Violet the deepest, all three cool colors come in pigment versions where the mass tone goes all the way to almost-black. I know this because in various watercolor sets, the pure pigments in gum arabic all look black on some reds (Alizarin and Permanent Alizarin especially), violets (Dioxazine), blues (Prussian and others) and greens (Pthalo) look black. If the pans get mixed up I have to dab them with a wet brush to figure out what they are to put them back in order. That also became my index to artist grade or grownup watercolors - kid sets the hues are always bright and clear in the pan, adult and artist sets have a third of the pans looking black till water's added.

Yellow and some oranges when mixed with black turn olive green instead of darker yellow. I use yellow leaning dark browns if I want a deep dark yellow that isn't green, with gold and yellow ochre colors if it's not too far.

Those printed color wheels are very useful. I used to have a pocket one of those, Barbara. Exactly that one. I think it wound up in the wrong box in Arkansas along with some other stuff.

There's one advantage to making your own color wheel though, it's that I got very used to it and memorized it after taking Colorix's class. I started using the 12 color wheel as a basis for charting pastels sets sometimes especially for mixing. It helped me to have that mental image and structure when sorting my pastels or any medium.

Charlie, you made some good points about other ambiguous areas where the same color seems warm or cool in context. Magenta's a perfect example, is it a purple cast red or a red cast purple? The fine gradations on the lines really do work by context.

One cool thing about the warm-cool colors. It's possible to really strengthen the feeling of light in any painting by deciding the light areas are either cool or warm and the shadow areas the opposite. Historical paintings with cool blue daylight often have warm brownish shadows reflecting bricks and surrounding dirt and stuff. They read true. Most of my paintings and many modern paintings have warm yellow cast light and blue cast shadows because sky light comes into the shadow area. This really, really depends on the lighting. But as a division it helps define all the shadows in a way that makes the light feel real.

The color of anything is its local color modified by the color of light bouncing on it. So a yellow box outside in yellowish light might really have a slightly olive side in shadow with the cool sky color reflecting into the shadows. It looks true because it's real.

One other place it's dramatically obvious is stage lighting, where they use gel filters on the lights. The main light could be white or have a yellow filter or orange, the royal blue light usually fills the shadows and makes everything on stage look more colorful than life. That color scheme can look fantastic in full saturation if you're painting, say, a jazz musician on stage. Forget the skin tones, his face is all bright orange and cool blues. Or magenta and blue or whatever and whatever but they will be warm and cool usually because the idea is to make the player as visible as a poster to the people in the back row.

09-03-2014, 05:48 PM
Please bear in mind that the colour reproduction in a book is often BADLY PRODUCED, as in my book, I was really upset by what was done. Nothing I could do about it once it was printed.

And perhaps this will help you:


You need to learn this off by heart.

Do Don's exercise above, for yourself, using what pastels you have. Make three rows of your colours down a page, headed "cooler" "pure" and "Warmer" You will learn loads. Use the colour wheel above to decide which way your pastel stick "leans", either towards the red, ie warmer, or towards the blue, cooler.

Virtually Every stick you own will have a bias one way or the other, unless it is truly a "pure" red, blue or yellow which leans neither one way or the other.

09-03-2014, 05:54 PM
Thank you for the reply! OK, now what color is the 'change' point? I have been looking for a chart of ALL the colors of pastels so I could have a name or a number to assign them. I've seen a list of pastels at Blicks but is that all the colors one can obtain in pastels? Once I have a chart of all the colors, then I can say '101' is a cool color or whatever. Gads I hope this made some sense. HA!

09-03-2014, 06:54 PM
Keep in mind it's all relative. Any color can be either cool or warm, depending on what you relate it to. Richard McKinley likes talking about this a lot. It is called simultaneous contrast. Take a look at April 25th post in the link below, "Pushing color cool or warm"


It goes a long ways to illustrate this.

09-03-2014, 08:34 PM
Actually all the colors one can obtain in pastels with an unlimited budget would take the lists from FineArtStore, Blick, Dakota Pastels, Jerry's Artarama and maybe some more than that. It'd be... daunting. Pretty awesome really if I ever hit some kind of fame jackpot and wound up a millionaire. I think it'd be over 5,000 sticks and charting it would fill a large living room wall and have to get varnished over. Then again if I was that rich, my living room would be a studio with a sofa in it, sort of a gallery at home place with lots of art hanging.

All of them would stil divide broadly into variations of red-orange-yellow or green-violet-blue. I found it wasn't that hard to put the sticks into their divider slots in my Dakota Traveller or to organize them neatly by value the other way - some hues almost slopped over but didn't and I found out I had a very balanced range with all my choices.

That is something that actually gets easier with doing. If you set up something like a studio tray and put all your pastels in it by six color spectrum, placing each stick closer to its closer neighbor, the spectrum colors will slither toward the middle of the stripe and lo, it works. I like Jackie's idea of sorting all pastels into those three rows in swatches as a chart organization. It'd be a very effective inventory to tell if you have major gaps in palette, especially if those strips per hue had dark shade on the bottom and light tint on the top.

I was worried for a while that I didn't have a good range, and in some brands I don't. But overall I do, and that was good to discover.

One of the things I learned between pastels and colored pencils is that my favorite color is "all of them." I can leave some out for a given painting and play with a color harmony like the ones on the back of the color wheel, but ultimately I love "lots" more than leaning one way or the other. Colors I hated like beige or orange came into place when I started pasteling.

Jackie, I love that diagram! One of the problems I have with computer art programs is the shaded spectrum color picker is often so small that choosing the point on it representing the hue I want takes multiple trial and error. I click and whoops it's yellow orange not spectrum orange kind of thing, by scale of pointer to smallness of diagram.

09-03-2014, 08:49 PM
Although I struggle with this, too, I have found that verbal cues help to override my visual confusion. Is this red more like an orange or a raspberry? Is this yellow more like a lemon or the sun? Is this green Caribbean? Just sayin'.

09-03-2014, 09:30 PM
Wow -- my head just exploded. Much to ponder. Thanks for the link, Mike!

Best, Evelyn

Barbara WC
09-03-2014, 11:02 PM
Evelyn- For quite some time, I was crazy enough to organize all my pastels according to number, when I was using Rembrandts and Senneliers (maybe 140 Rembrandts, about 75 Sennelier). Their color charts are organized methodically, warm to cool (or cool to warm) through the color wheel. That worked for awhile, until I switched to other brands, like Terry Ludwig and Unison, which aren't organized in the same way. I had to start relying on my own eye to determine what is warm, what is cool!

Perhaps it would help you to see some photos? I'm currently in the middle of re organizing my pastel boxes, focusing more on value first and temperature second (so each section of a drawer will have all darkest darks together, lightest lights together, etc). If you lay out all your pastel sticks out, you can organize them using the color wheel method (I use yellow in the far left of my boxes, going to green on the other end. A separate area for neutrals and grays).

Here is what I would consider comparing actual pastel sticks, warm on the left (orange) through cool (green) on the right. Forgot to put in yellows! They would be on the left (first a yellow green then a yellow orange).

You can see obvious differences in the oranges, one is more yellow-orange, one is more red-orange. In the reds, one is more red-orange, the other more red-violet (sorry for the bad lighting, you can see the differences better in the light sticks maybe). On through the color wheel (I have the greens mixed up, it should be the blue-green first, then the yellow-green). The 12 hue color wheel is how I organize my pastel box, as do many others.

Warm or cool? There are so many different ways to define these, I just try to keep my focus on the color wheel. If a color has yellow in it (yellow-orange, yellow-green), I define it as warm. If it has blue in it, I call it cool (blue-violet, blue-green). Then the confusion comes, which is warmer, blue-violet or blue-green? I think blue-green is warmer because it has more yellow in it than blue-violet, but other people consider blue-violet warmer because it has more red! I consider red-violet warmer than blue-violet, because blue-violet has more blue. Red-orange warmer than red-violet because red-orange has more yellow...

Colorix mentioned Michael Wilcox's book- it is very good- check if your library has it- it helped me a lot with mixing colors, which in turn helped me learn about color...


And here is my organization in progress: if you put all your pastels out, and then try to pick warm and cool, it gets easier. I find it is really helping me to compare sticks of similar value...


I still have a LONG way to go, this is only a fraction of my sticks (the darkest darks are cut off in the photo!)

Good luck!

09-04-2014, 01:20 AM
Barbara, that is so beautiful. Wonderful photos. Seeing pastels laid out like that does two things - reminds me of the color wheel and how to organize them, but also gives me the itch to take mine out and paint. I think I'm going to pull out the Traveller to finish my current painting, use the mixed bag of everything I brought from Arkansas.

I split my small Dakota Traveller with all open stock sticks plus several medium and small sets into four slots with spectrum colors and two for browns and grays also spectrum organized warm to the right. Not sure why I reversed it for the neutrals, but it's more or less in spectrum order and more or less warms in one division and cools in the other.


Actually should have rotated the photo but I usually sit facing it with the darks toward me and yellow-orange slot to my left, browns-grays to my right after the greens. Same idea. Separate by value and hue and just put each where they belong. The warm-cool line runs between red and violet, with some violets in the reds box because of how tightly the box is packed. I have a bit more cool color pastels than warm color pastels, it wasn't an even split so the purple slopped over into the reds column. But they are in order even if the dividers wouldn't have cut it evenly.

The other advantage to this sort of organization in a drawer or box is that adjacent colors don't rub off complements to gray the sticks, it's easier to tell what they are even if travel has shaken them up a little.

09-04-2014, 04:23 AM
Just remember Akingu, that sorting out pastels in terms of temperature is only one part of the story. And every manufacturer will have their own chart, as Robert said, and they will often be organised by value.

I sort out my pastels by VALUE since I find this far more useful, I TAKE OFF THE WRAPPING because every manufacturer gives their colours different names, it becomes v confusing, and it is best to train yourself to recognise colours by eye, (although in my early days, just so that I could replace a colour stick if I wanted to, I made my own colour charts, putting a tiny mark on a sheet, and noting the manufacturer and the name. Then, when the stick began to run out, I could identify it.)

As Mike so rightly said (and I decided NOT to say because I reckoned it would just blow your mind!) the relative warmth or "coolth" of a colour will often be affected by what surrounds it.

I suspect this is from the same link Mike showed, but I often use it to demonstrate how a colour can be affected by its surroundings:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/04-Sep-2014/1805-relativetempb3sm.jpg the green square is the same in both cases.

May I ask...WHY are you trying to sort out temperature?

And, looking at my page 47 of the workbook, looking at that chart, you do not need to know the names of the colours. You just need to become AWARE of the differences. Even allowing for the difficulties of reproduction, the basic colour of the paper remains the same, more or less, so the colours used show the subtleties of warms and cools.
Working down:
1. The green on the left has a hint of yellow in it, while the green on the right has a hint of blue.
2. The yellow left is more orangey than the yellow on the right, which is more lemony.
3. The red is difficult to see, very subtle, but basically the one on the right is slightly moving towards blue.
4. The purple on the left is more pinkpurple, the one on the right is more blue purple.
5. The dark blue on the left is a richer, more purple-blue than the colder, greenier blue on the right
6. The grey on the left is pinker and warmer than the blue grey on the right.
7. The orange-red leans more towards red, the pink leans more towards blue
8. the final green is much more yellow than the one on the right.

Notice that I kept the VALUE/TONE similar in each case.


09-04-2014, 09:02 PM
Thank you ALL for your help! This has seriously helped me sort of put it all in perspective!
Robert, I really like your massive setup and color arrangement! Pardon me while I wipe the drool off my chin and keyboard.....:lol: I think I'd sell up a kidney to get that many colors. HA!
Had an interesting talk the other night as I was looking at sets that are earth tones, the blues, the purples and portrait sets and seeing how much it was going to stroke me $$-wise and the question was since I'm going to have to move on to watercolors, acrylics, oils later on how much DO I want to spend on the pastels? Am I going to make it a more active aspect of my painting or will watercolors be my niche? Good question, I thought.
Yes, hard decisions, I know, but I'm still going to get the earth tones, blues and greens. HA! The way I see it, I really like the pastels even though I'm not very familiar with them BUT I like what I can do with them! Plus I have folks like you all showing works that inspire and motivate as well as challenge my creativity. I can see taking out the easle and just painting away in some park or wherever,
On another positive note, Jackie, I got your other book yesterday. SWEET! It's very similar to my college workbook but you explain things better and I like your techniques so it's another favorite! Thanks! :thumbsup:
Again, thank you all and I hope this keeps going actually. I learn something new every day here! OOHRAH!


09-05-2014, 05:50 AM
Switching from pastels to watercolour..........you like to make life difficult, huh?

the important thing to bear in mind is that watercolour has its own sets of rules. the MOST VITAL one to get under your belt, is that all other opaque mediums - pastels, oils, acrylics etc, you work from dark to light - ideally. You can put your lights in last, over the top of other colours.

YOU CANNOT DO THIS WITH WATERCOLOURS, so it behaves quite differently, totally differently in fact. You have to work from light to dark, which means getting your head into a totally different gear. You have to "reserve" the light areas and build up to the darks, slowly.

it is good to get all media under your belt, but also, it is good NOT to confuse yourself by using them all at the same time. Go for one at a time, is my advice.


09-05-2014, 07:15 AM
Again, wishing I had a smiley face that could do a facepalm..... Not even going to worry about the other stuff that comes later. Concentrating on pastels, the technique, tones and so on have to be my focus right now. This is intimidating enough.
My pics still turn out rather lifeless and dull. I'm going to post an attempt at a reflection using their methods and get some advice on the technique and if I'm layering too much, not enough, etc... so be prepared. :D

09-05-2014, 12:01 PM
I do watercolors too - actually I do quite a lot of mediums, but it's pastel that has supported my indulging all the rest over the years. Pastel was the easiest for me to learn and watercolor the most difficult, though there were some physical reasons involved.

Disclaimer: I am a supplies nut. I really like getting and trying new supplies in every medium I enjoy, collect supplies and tend to rotate what I'm using so I rarely have to buy replacements. I like my toys and some of my pastel excesses are because my "going to movies, buying music and eating out" budget goes to pastels and pocket watercolor sets and any new pencil that Derwent invents to sabotage my budget. There are some things where I'm almost a completist collector - Derwent pencils I'm getting close to that and may have finished when I got the Onyx pencil. But they'll invent more, they always do. I think currently I have some of every product they make, though I don't have my Inktense Sticks set with me and don't have the full range of those or ArtBars.

Pastels, it would be impossible to have full range in all the good artist grade brands unless I was a dentist or a top lawyer or something and still put all of my "going out to eat or movies" budget into art supplies. Just not going to happen. Pastels have got the biggest ranges of any dry medium and at this glorious point in history, more manufacturers doing good artist grade ones.

I did fine doing street portraits with 60 Grumbachers, a now discontinued brand that was a bit like Rembrandt or Art Spectrum in texture. I had 30 Skin Tones and 30 Assorted, which did include pink, turquoise, olive green and purple along with the classic violet-cast brilliant pure Ultramarine. I vaguely wanted more pastels but my disposable income went into Prismacolor replacements because I went through those like I was smoking them doing moderately large layered paintings at home.

Happily, you don't have to sell a kidney to get that many colors. That box is the result of consolidating a half dozen small to medium sets, many bought on Clearance, a bunch of free samples from Blick and Jerry's Artarama and a Green Sampler from Dakota Pastels. It contains 60 vintage Rembrandts first halves (the second halves are back in Arkansas gifted to my daughter), 80 Sennelier half sticks which was the biggest half sticks set they had at the time, first halves of 60 Pure Tones Art Spectrum that went on Clearance because AS added a half dozen new pigments so the new Pure Tones set made it obsolete - and that gave me a good batch of AS near whites that I find incredibly useful since they filled it out. Also a Greens Sampler from Dakota Pastels because I could never have too many greens on account of liking landscapes now. The wooden box cost as much as one of the sets it includes. It was worth it because when I moved from Arkansas to San Francisco, I managed to take at least pieces of all the pastels I had at the time.

Watch for artist grade sets on Clearance and don't fuss about which brand or what set it is - that's a good way to build a big collection if you want one. Really watch for deep-deep discount bargains and start off with half sticks sets to bulk out the base. General Assortments tend to be a bit more balanced than special subject ones like landscape or portrait, but all will have different colors the farther out you get from basic necessary hues.

Also watch the Swap Shop, eBay, Amazon resellers and Craigslist for people who stop using pastels or prune their collections. The biggest problem for large collections is space and storage, so sometimes artists with a big collection will drop whole brands they didn't like or boxes of second halves or an unsorted bunch of pieces that need cleaning. A friend just lucked and posted a thread on a local store selling a grab bag of broken artist grade pastels. Wound up spending $100 for about six or seven hundred dollars worth of pastels most of them broken exactly the way they work best broken - into handy inch or inch and a half long pieces that can go on their sides for a wide stroke.

One source of those used supplies is what happens when an artist starts to discover his or her favorite palette. Some artists do. I find I don't really use the browns and grays as much as the spectrum colors, if I tilted a little more that direction I might sell off a lot of browns and grays to eager buyers who love having those convenience colors.

You don't need to have that many colors. But if you like them, anything past the essentials starts to become convenience. Past a couple hundred sticks or so, matching the exact color isn't as important as having good value ranges in the color groups. Actually that's an internal leap of growth, it took me longer and more pastels to get to it than most because I came to pastels from colored pencils and stuck grimly to Match The Photo Reference for decades. I really did need the brown that was a little redder than French Gray 70% but the same value and another one redder and more intense and screamed at gaps in the olive greens between nearly yellow and nearly brown and nearly sap green. I never had enough light value pencils or darks until I had four or five full range sets.

But that all happened because I'd rather go to the art store or place a mail order to Blick than go out to the movies or the music store. Seriously, supplies can become their own hobby and it's as enjoyable as anything. I have over a thousand sticks and pieces, distinctly different colors and textures. Some colors match over half a dozen brands. Others are unique to one manufacturer. They're fun. I wouldn't want to stop. But there's a difference between Need and Want.

If your photos turn out lifeless and dull, there are colors the camera can't reproduce and whole threads on trying to get it to come out resembling the art. If you're frustrated that your paintings seem lifeless and dull, try new techniques and color harmonies. Try doing a landscape on a dull red paper, like a russet color. Or do a red-orange underpainting in a landscape that's green and blue.

Read the long class thread "ESP: Still Life the Colourful Way" by Colorix. It's in the Pastel Learning Center. The early pages go into materials and palette, she lists about 40 pastels with Rembrandt numbers for an essential palette for the method. That class completely changed how I view color. Whether I use the full method or not, I'm now constantly aware of color in a new way and no longer trying to match color.

This month's lesson in the Pastel Spotlight includes a 12 color wheel. Each of those colors plus one or two darks and two or three tints is a perfectly usable palette, all muted colors can be achieved by layering complements and tertiary brights by layering near-neighbors on the color wheel. Read the color temperature thread too, that goes into a lot of it. I'd include 6 deep darks and 6 near whites, 2 tints, the pure spectrum color and 1 shade on the 12 color wheel to have a full palette. I'd fill out the darks on the yellow and orange with earth colors like yellow ochre, siennas and browns because I like being able to get "yellow in deep dark" without it turning into olive, even though the yellow shades are very useful olives.

What I reach for now is the stick that gets the effect I want. This is something to try if you have a pale orange, pale green and pale violet, maybe also a pink and pale blue about the same value. Do the gray part of a cloud by alternating those hues in different proportions, using rough broken color side strokes that let the previous layers shimmer through. The net result will be gray that can lean any direction you like and has an opalescent shimmer.

That can be done to darks as well. It's some of why many pastelists don't use the pure black stick and prefer to darken with violet or brown or blue. The more layering and the more variations go into an area, the richer and livelier the painting will become. It really pops. I got the cloud thing from a Deborah Secor video, she was using pink, orange, mint green and lavender to make the most gorgeous gray clouds. When I tried it, my results were even more beautiful than the video in person.

So I've run long here again - there's my huge collection and reasons for it. Even after I got it about color and began to be able to use fewer colors in a painting, I like having a big collection and do use it all by rotation. I will often do limited palettes but choose them for that painting and vary them by my mood and the subject.