View Full Version : My newest addition: Great Americans and Giraults!

Barbara WC
09-20-2014, 08:01 PM
I think none of us here can get too many photos of pastel sticks, so here are some new acquisitions that just arrived from Dakota yesterday:

1. My first sampling of Great Americans, their "On The Terrace" half stick set (available at Dakota and Fine Art store, not at Blick that I could see)- more subdued than their "landscape" half stick set. Supposed to be no duplications in the two half stick sets. For a long time, I've been curious about GA's, however, thought they might be a little too soft for me, read how soft they are, true softies, and thought they would be more like Schmincke (which I don't like), or the softest of the Senneliers (which I like for finishing touches, but not as workhorse pastels). Never been a fan either of their color names either. I haven't painted a full painting with the GA's yet, but did test them with doodling, and my initial impression: :clap: To me, they don't seem as soft as my workhorse, my beloved Terry Ludwigs. I mainly use Terry Ludwigs, with some Unisons thrown in, and a few Sennliers.

The GA's seem to have a kind of waxy texture- I think Chris here (allydoodle) may have called them waxy before. And it's hard to describe their texture- almost as if I'm painting with an oil pastel, yet they are soft and smooth, layer well, and have a great texture. Somehow firm and soft at the same time. Not "fluffy" soft like Schmincke, not "powdery" soft like Ludwigs, but "buttery" soft. Hard to describe, they are really unlike any of the other brands I've tried. I do think more of these will be coming to live with me, but need to do a few paintings before spending more money :lol:

On the Terrace 1/2 stick box set:



Size of the GA half sticks in their half stick set, compared to a full stick of Terry Ludwig (the Ludwigs are on the right, broken in half). I've read from someone here on WC, that the GA half sticks are more like 2/3 of their full sticks. Their sticks are certainly a bargain!

And some open stock Giraults that hopped along for the ride. I have a love/hate relations with Giraults. My favorite paper is PastelMat, and I don't care for using Girualts on PastelMat, however, they are nice on sanded papers, and La Carte, which I also use frequently. I have the 25 gray set, and decided I "needed" a few more Girualt colors to use on the La Carte and another few sanded paper scraps that are lying around! (I have the Girualt color chart from Dakota, that's how these beautiful colors were picked).

Finally, if anyone has any of the Great American sets, could you post photos in this thread? There don't seem to be many photos of actual sets, either in the talk section or the materials section of Pastel forums here at WC, or anywhere on the web. Many of the set photos that I have seen at Blick, etc, aren't very big, or don't show the true colors well...

09-20-2014, 10:24 PM
Oh, these are beautiful! Thanks for your vivid description of the GA Terrace Set, which appealed to me for having more of a spectrum focus than a lot of browns and grays. Strong on values! Surprising that you say they're more muted than the landscape set, will have to think about it. Though it's nice they have two sets that don't overlap.

Love your choices in Giraults. I've been thinking of getting some open stock Girault to build up to 50 of them and fill gaps in my Colourist palette. I love their texture but still don't have a real violet or a strong cool red. No pinks either and I know I'd use them, I need floral colors and a full spectrum with tints and darks. A deep dark violet would rock.

I need to spread out the Landscape set I've got and see what I have first, then build on that. Definitely need some tints and a deep violet, full strength mid violet, violet tint if not repeat that in both red cast and blue cast violet. I really like violets and need orange tints too. But not looking for more earth tints or portrait colors.

Is that a mixed pigment range from violet to yellow? It looks really cool, that sort of thing is tempting! But what I actually need is to fill out a 12 color spectrum with tints and 6 extra light, 6 reasonably deep darks.

Barbara WC
09-21-2014, 12:26 AM
I should have added the link for the comparison photos of the Great American 1/2 stick Terrace set, and the 1/2 stick "Landscape" set: Dakota's photos: http://www.dakotapastels.com/pages/setlists10/gashalf120.htm
Fine art store's landscape set: http://www.fineartstore.com/p-7323-great-american-pastels-set-of-half-sticks-60-handmade-soft-pastels-le-plein-air-assortment.aspx

Robert- You have a keen eye- yes, that is a range going from violet to yellow- called "Violet Yellow", 133-140, although I didn't order 137 and 139- the violet is a not very bright red-violet, the ending yellow is similar to a New Gamboge. Next to that, you will see the next 4 sticks, "Dull Leaf Green" 141-147 (missing 146), going from a sort of transparent red oxide color, to a dull yellow-green. The next 4 are "Brown Green", 190-195 (missing 192), going from a dark burnt sienna to a dark leaf green. On the bottom row, all the way to the left, "Peacock Blue", 257-264, (missing 262), from a sort of ultramarine/phthalo color mix to a brighter yellow-green. To me, these mixed pigment ranges are some of the most beautiful and clear sticks in the Girualt line.

Since I have a color chart I could try to help you out choosing colors. However, I should note, that so many of the tints in the Girault line look "grayed" to my eye- and there aren't enough true lights. Lots of earth tones, but even some of them look grayed to my eye. This is one thing I don't like in the Girault line. Many of the tints are also very opaque, not a problem, just something to be aware of. I know others may disagree with me. However, most of their mass tone sticks are quite bright and lovely. Many of the tints seem grayed. A couple of years ago, I bought 5 sticks open stock, choosing some "portrait" colors in their skin tone set (and the 25 gray set). I have been disappointed by my selection- when used with my Terry Ludwigs and Unisons, there is a grayness in the portraits I don't care for. It is very, very subtle, most people wouldn't notice it, but since I normally work with a limited portrait palette, I notice.

I am not impressed in the violet selection in the Girault line. The violets remind me of the "blah" violets in the Rembrandt line (I LOVE Rembrandts, but not a fan of their violets). However, the masstone violets are not bad. A lovely sort of middle-darkish toned red-violet "Burnt Madder" (sort of looks like a quinacridone violet) 377, a darkish, but not too dark, "Blue Purple" 281, and a darkish, not too dark, "Violet Lake" 361. I don't care for the tints of the last two, but the violet lake lighter tones aren't too bad. I use a lot of violet, but didn't order the Girault violets because I like the Unison and Lugwig violets much, much better.

However, with the color chart, I have been able to pick out what I consider skin tones that aren't too grayed for my eye. Some of their blues are good, but don't go dark enough or light enough. And of course those lovely pigment mixture sticks!

Let me know if you want help choosing a 12 color spectrum- I'd be happy to help with that, but we should probably do that by PM. I know the colors in sets you tend to gravitate towards. There would be pretty easy to pick out a 12 hue spectrum, the masstone colors, some of the tints may or may not be light enough for you. Most of the darks in the Girault line are browns.

09-21-2014, 11:22 AM
Barbara, I love looking at new boxes of pastels! It's good to know there is no over lap in the two GA sets. The GA's are a great value, I broke the half sticks to quarters and they look like Ludwig halves to me. I have had trouble telling them apart because I mixed them right away so didn't get a feel for the differences. I just got some Lidwig skin tones so now I can compare. I can easily say I like all of my square sticks!

Did you get all the open stock you ordered from Dakota? Did they ship them in that box? The reason I ask is I got an order from them last week all in boxes of three. About 25 percent of the colors I ordered were out of stock and another 25 percent came broken in half! I have also had many Giraults break in my Heiman. Maybe I'm packing them wrong or they are just delicate. Truth is I haven't had the heart to break them and they are just helping me! I do love all the different textures of the different brands.

Thanks for sharing your photos. Now I want to order the Terraces set!

09-21-2014, 11:59 AM
I just checked out the comparison photos you mentioned on the Dakota site. The Terraces one looks very different from the other half stick set. At $$109 for 60 half sticks (I can easily break them to quarters) I can put 60 new colors in my travel box and 60 new colors in my studio box. That's a great value for so buttery soft sticks!

Thanks again for sharing!

Barbara WC
09-21-2014, 02:24 PM
Julie- Yes Dakota did send the open stock Girault sticks in that nice 50 piece box. I didn't have any sticks break. You should call Dakota and mention the problem. All of the sticks I placed on order were in stock.

I love Dakota, that they have all the supplies that we pastelists need. To be honest though, I've had trouble with Dakota's packing before. One thing I don't like is they seem to use tape to close pastel boxes before shipping instead of saran wrap like Blick or Jerry's. When I ordered some Terry Ludwigs before, the paper boxes ripped when I took the tape off. I didn't call on that one because it was just the box top that the paper ripped off a bit- the sticks were okay. I also received one order before that didn't have any bubble wrap or padding- thankfully the sticks were okay. Dakota does pack paper sheets very well though. I usually buy paper from Dakota, and sticks from Blick, however, Blick doesn't carry Girault. I don't know if it was Dakota or Great American, but the sides of my GA 1/2 stick box were sealed shut with very sticky packing tape- and again, it tore off some of the box top of the GA sticks and left the sides of the box gummy and sticky. If I end up liking GA's, I'm going to order the other 1/2 stick set and some open stock from Blick and see if the box comes with the tape or not (Blick doesn't sell the Terrace box, which is why I ordered from DAkota).

I just recently got a Heilman and haven't had any sticks break. Perhaps you are packing it too tightly :lol: I find the Giraults to be not very fragile- not sure why they are breaking for you! And even though you are having trouble breaking them, you should be the one to break them, not in transit!

Isn't it great that Great American decided in their two half stick boxes, not to include any duplicates? I don't know any other company that has done that. That means we can get 120 colors for about $200, and that is a bargain for the size and quality!

I did a horrible little sketch last night with the GA's on Canson Mi-tientes. I bought the Terrace because I mainly paint portraits and thought they would be good for portraits. They are very different feeling to me than Ludwigs- more buttery and dense than the Ludwigs. One thing I did notice is that the Ludwigs leave a lot more dust on my fingers than the GA's- maybe that is one way you can tell the difference! I've seen your thread about mixing the sticks and not being able to tell them apart! I know someone else mentioned it, but I always make a color chart of sticks before mixing them in with the bunch. Even my Unisons get confusing when they get smaller- I break in halves, and when they get worn down, they become square and shorter, and look very much like the Ludwigs! I don't work with a huge number of colors though, and after working with them for about 3 years, have gotten to know which sticks are brand by the color and texture. That might change though after finally trying GA's. They are very much firmer than I had anticipated, not as soft as I have read. In my use of the sticks, for me personally, have a softness rating now of: Schmincke, Sennelier, Ludwig, Great American and Unison (softest to firmest). Yet Dakota has the list going: Schmincke, Great American, Blue Earth (which I haven't tried), Sennelier, Unison, Ludwig. I still need to test with how they layer with my Ludwigs and Unisons. Wish I had tried the GA's so much earlier, I have a feeling these will be included among my workhorse sticks- and I like the range of colors and especially the number of tints, however, am not a huge fan of the names ;)

Hope you can sort those sticks out so you will be able to reorder what you need!

Equus Art
09-21-2014, 03:13 PM
Barbara, here is a shot of the Richard McKinley GA set that I bought. I love this palette! You can tell from the photo that I broke them in half and left the rest in the box the way they were with the labels. I definitely want to replace any of these that I use up.

In my experience, small that it is compared to yours, I find the GAs layer over the Lugwigs just fine. I think they layer over the TLs better than the other way around.



09-21-2014, 09:14 PM
Barbara, thank you so much! What I've got is the 25 Landscape plus two more, so I could actually go for more than 12 new sticks - wanted to order 23 and thus they'd send another long narrow Girault box with foam and spaces for the two dark reds I already have. Wow! Purr! I need to go through what I have on the 12 color wheel to know what's already there, then go for at least some tints and maybe something like that peacock range. I love those!

Dangit the violet yellow row appeals to me too! Wicked. But what I have space for is 23 more and then turn the original boxes into 50 color ones breaking the sticks in half, one "home" and one live in backpack. If the tints are really that grayed maybe I don't need as many tints either. I'd need an extra white or some near whites though to compensate.

09-22-2014, 02:30 PM
Barbara, in the bottom row of the giraults...the three purplish ones toward the right of the picture...which ones are they? I love them!

Barbara WC
09-22-2014, 10:03 PM
Cat- Thank you for posting the McKinley set photo! This is one of the sets I'm considering. With a few open stock skin tones, this set would be perfect for my portraits, believe it or not. Very few sets look useful to me the way I work in portraits, but this one does, there isn't a stick in there I don't already use similar to colors from other brands. Bonus that it could also be used plein air! I need to check how many sticks overlap the 1/2 stick On The Terrace set- maybe I will post that here just in case anyone is interested. So far, I really am enjoying the Great Americans. They are much different feeling than any of my other pastels, and not as soft as I thought they were based on descriptions!

Peg- I think the photo looks more violet than the sticks IRL. Starting with stick #11 from the left, bottom row (which I think is the ones you are referring to), are sticks Van Dyke Brown, 434, 435 and 436. The weird thing is that the darkest stick in that series, 434, leans towards red-violet, as does the lightest, #440 (which I already have, but not shown in the photo), but the two middle sticks, #435 and 436, actually look more yellowish/reddish brown- almost to me as if the two middle sticks don't "belong" with the darkest and lightest stick in that 4 stick series. This isn't obvious until the sticks are swiped on a paper (I have the hand painted color chart from Dakota, so knew before ordering) . If you want a more violet brown, but not too violet, I might suggest Brown Lake, #441, 442, 443 (they are about the same value range as the three sticks above we are talking about). I spent about a week putting my order together, and kept going back and forth between either the Van Dyke Brown series or Brown Lake series, decided the Van Dyke Brown would be more useful to me right now. I wish the sticks weren't so expensive and small, I would have gotten the 3 Brown lake sticks too! If you want even a more violet brown, there is Van Dyke Violet- #405, 406, 407 and 409.

Hope this helps and doesn't make it more difficult for you to choose sticks :lol:
ANYONE have the GA Carducci Portrait set? If so, can you share a photo? I am a fan of her work, and the photos online of her portrait set aren't that great. Not sure her palette would work for me though! Thanks :)

09-23-2014, 11:56 AM
Thanks, Barbara...I think I'm addicted to violets, grayed down violets :) Find I really like giraults, too...a new discovery for me. Hmm, will have to think about this.

Barbara WC
09-23-2014, 12:13 PM
Peg- an even more grayed down violet in the Girault line is Violet Grey, sticks 478, 479, 480. It is similar to other pastel sticks that are named "Mouse Gray". There are only three sticks, the 479 is relatively dark, 479 dark-middle tone and the 480 is medium/light tone. I wish they had one more stick that was lighter. I have all of these sticks and use them often.

09-24-2014, 12:22 AM
Barbara, I think I have the violet gray. How could I pass up sticks with a name like that? Looked at the mouse gray, but was afraid that they were "just gray" without other color to them. Thanks, again.

11-01-2014, 11:03 PM
thank you for $haring these beautiful sets. so interesting to look at.

11-02-2014, 08:36 AM
I am looking for the numbers and names of the Richard McKinley GA set.
Is anyone has an idea where can I find it?

11-02-2014, 10:19 AM
Barbara, I have a set of 12 half sticks in GA and 8 TLs, and I know what you mean about size, the GAs are definitely a bargain. I do however disagree a little on them being waxy. I find the ones I have to be very dense and creamy smooth. However, I can see if using a smooth paper, how they may be waxy...but on sanded paper, or even canvas, they are wonderful. I hope to get a lot more colors one day...I also agree that they layer just fine on top of just about anything, even Schmincke.

Any one using GAs have any insight as to what "style" of painting is best suited for GA pastels? Certainly I wouldn't use them for an underpainting, but I am still experimenting with them...

11-02-2014, 10:23 AM
I'd also like to add that you can nearly get twice as many GAs than TLs for about a $10 difference, and being that they are roughly the same size, I think it's definitely worth the money! I love TLs too, but not sure if they are TWICE as good as GAs. Any thoughts?

Barbara WC
11-02-2014, 12:07 PM
There are differences in the lines, this is where my color charts come in handy.

The following is my opinion, and may differ with what others think:

Great American's darkest darks are just "blah" in my opinion (mixed with black and kind of "gray" and boring in my opinion), Terry Ludwig's darkest darks (he has many), I am pretty sure are close to pure pigment, and I wonder if Terry even uses much black- his darks aren't grayed at all, they "glow" and are vibrant, similar to Unison darks, but more vibrant and darker. On my "wish" list for Great American's, there are no darks included.

Great American's doesn't have a good pure blue in the set- no good ultramarines or cobalts- Terry Ludwig's line does and both are beautiful. Terry Ludwig's turquoise colors are more interesting, in my opinion.

Great American's lightest lights aren't as light as Terry Ludwigs. I sort my sticks by value, and in my lightest light section, and the Great American's lightest lights don't go in that section in my box.

Where Great American excels over Terry Ludwig, in my opinion, is the assortment of neutrals (think skin tones or horse colors) and grays. GA's also have some nice reds, but be aware that GA uses cadmium, Terry Ludwig does not. Both have interesting violets too, I am torn between them, they are both different.

Both have interesting greens, but I prefer the Terry Ludwig greens.

I love the texture of Great American, which is the reason I'm enjoying them so much- more the texture than the color line itself.

I wouldn't have known this until I got the color chart (or bought the Full Monty!) GA's are a great value, size of sticks.

11-02-2014, 12:35 PM
I loved the combined set you have. My favorite part of the GA's (besides the value and colors) are the names. I mean... Burnt Reynolds and Dorian Gray... that's just fun.

Ditte, you can either contact Richard McKinley directly, I'm sure he'd let you know or you may ask Dakota Pastels. They stock them all and would probably tell you.

Barbara, have a great time with these and I long to see your portraits!

(who used to live in San Francisco and paint portraits but is now in Seattle)


Barbara WC
11-02-2014, 12:45 PM
Ditte- I missed your post.

You can find the numbers and names of all the Great American sets at Dick Blick at this link: http://www.dickblick.com/products/great-american-art-works-pastel-sets/#itemspecs

11-02-2014, 03:42 PM
There are differences in the lines, this is where my color charts come in handy.

The following is my opinion, and may differ with what others think:

Great American's darkest darks are just "blah" in my opinion (mixed with black and kind of "gray" and boring in my opinion), Terry Ludwig's darkest darks (he has many), I am pretty sure are close to pure pigment, and I wonder if Terry even uses much black- his darks aren't grayed at all, they "glow" and are vibrant, similar to Unison darks, but more vibrant and darker. On my "wish" list for Great American's, there are no darks included.

Great American's doesn't have a good pure blue in the set- no good ultramarines or cobalts- Terry Ludwig's line does and both are beautiful. Terry Ludwig's turquoise colors are more interesting, in my opinion.

Great American's lightest lights aren't as light as Terry Ludwigs. I sort my sticks by value, and in my lightest light section, and the Great American's lightest lights don't go in that section in my box.

Where Great American excels over Terry Ludwig, in my opinion, is the assortment of neutrals (think skin tones or horse colors) and grays. GA's also have some nice reds, but be aware that GA uses cadmium, Terry Ludwig does not. Both have interesting violets too, I am torn between them, they are both different.

Both have interesting greens, but I prefer the Terry Ludwig greens.

I love the texture of Great American, which is the reason I'm enjoying them so much- more the texture than the color line itself.

I wouldn't have known this until I got the color chart (or bought the Full Monty!) GA's are a great value, size of sticks.

I completely understand about both brands having different colors and one excels over another. I suppose that for some artists, that may be enough to justify the almost double the price for TLs over GAs. What really has me concerned however, is that GA uses Cadmium you say. While not too worried about it, I am just curious if using Cadmium produces a truer color that trying to create it by other means.

I do think a combination is probably best...Thanks for the clarification between the two.

11-03-2014, 04:54 AM
Barb and Barbara thanks a lot!
I am very happy with the Dick Blick page!

11-03-2014, 11:11 AM
I've had a great time reading the thread :) But no more pastels for me, thank you.

But those TL vibrants.. hmmm No, just kidding :D
I haven't touched the big Unison set yet. But I have a feeling I will :D And I will perhaps stick to European pastels because of the shipping costs.
The paper sampler from Dakota sounds like a must though.

Barbara, happy painting!!

Jake, why wouldn't you use them for underpaiting? (asks the one who uses Senneliers for underpainting, because that's all he has :D)

11-03-2014, 06:56 PM
Jake, why wouldn't you use them for underpaiting? (asks the one who uses Senneliers for underpainting, because that's all he has :D)

Nick, I mentioned I wouldn't use them only because there aren't many brands that will cover the softies. So if I do an underpainting, it's really NOT an underpainting anymore, as I will then have to use them to finish it off...I am using underpainting to describe a more of a rough color outline, than a "tone" of color. I guess I see your point though as to why I wouldn't use them...I guess I would...lol will just need to stick to the super softs then...never done that before in one painting, but I am excited to try...I usually use Rembrandts first, then GAs or TLs...but Nick, if you have a special technique that I can use one brand all the way through, I'd love to try.

Hope I even expressed myself correctly...lol I feel like I was all over the place..not with it..lol Sorry.

11-04-2014, 02:09 AM
Thanks Jake, it makes sense. No, I don't have any special technique. LOL! I just have one brand of pastels, that's all :D
I knew that some people painted with just one brand and I wanted to try.
I am going to buy Unisons though. It seems to be a better option to have more to choose from.

Barbara WC
11-04-2014, 02:51 AM
Nick- I just figured out today that you are on the other side of the pond from the USA.

Not necessary to get the Daktoa paper sampler- you can get some great papers over by you- others here will tell you suppliers (maybe Jacksons?). My two favorite papers come from your vicinity- La Carte and PastelMat. I don't know how prices compare- perhaps we pay more here than you do? You also have Fisher, which is like our UArt, and probably can find Colourfix. Canson also is made in EU- and their new Canson Mi-tientes Touch is a nice surface worth exploring...

And you have Senneliers, Schminke, and Unison pastels on your side! Lucky you! Those really are among the best all around pastels I think- if I were to buy a full set of something, it would be Unisons. Terry Ludwig are my favorites, but it's a close second with Unisons. The reason I don't use Unisons for all my work is it tends to get a little tight and rendered, when I'm trying to be loose! For me, materials really do change the way I paint... But I absolutely love the color line and feel of Unisons, and paired with Senneliers, they are a good match... no reason to spend import fees, expensive shipping and VAT on pastels/paper bought here...

PS- you can underpaint with any brand you want basically. you don't need much pigment of the softies to wash out a lot of nice color with alcohol and a hake brush. Senneliers are fine for that. Some people use less expensive hard pastels to do underpainting, and the harder pastels don't fill the tooth, but if Senneliers are all you have, just use a light touch and go at it!

So much fun talking about supplies!!!

11-04-2014, 05:07 AM
Thank you very much, Barbara. I admit the diferences between papers from different brands is something I need to explore.

Sorry about derailing your thread though.

11-04-2014, 08:59 AM
Barbara, I generally don't wash my underpainting...really haven't tried that yet. Thats why I use the harder o es first...also, honestly I don't think I have enough colors to make a great painting with only GAs...however I now see a challenge in my future...lol

How many of us only use one pastel from start to finish? BTW, love Unisons.

Barbara, a question about giraults..i don't have any yet but all I keep hearing is how mutedthey are. I am nota really vibrant painter anyway,but how limiting is that? They offer upwards of 300 colors i think so I hope some have sparkle. Also, how are the lightest lights and darkest darks? I know not like TL, but usable?

11-04-2014, 10:17 AM
I would like ask if you recognize the color of your lightest lights and darkest darks :) Because some of my darks are so dark that it's hard to tell if it is green, violet or black. I have to try it on a scrap of paper to tell. I can't imagine to have even darker TLs :)

11-04-2014, 10:58 AM
Barbara, as requested, here is the GA 78 Floral set. The two missing labels are the same as the color name underneath them, just a different decimal ending. I brought this set because I needed yellow and light blues. Photograph under halogen light. Several arrived smashed but Blick replaced those. Had to ask for very special packing though because the G A are fragile.

Barbara WC
11-04-2014, 11:54 AM
Jake- The Girault line is very nice for portraits, perhaps landscapes depending on one's style. So many tones to choose from, lots of great darks. The grays are nice.

But, there are many "grayed", more muted tones in the line- I don't know how to describe it. There are some bright colors, but not like some of the bright colors like in the Great American line, for instance (thinking of the magenta colors, purples, neon green) Not many light, lights, many go down to value scale number 7, although some are 8. There are also so many close colors ranges. I guess it depends how you work- if you like very subtle changes in hue, and don't use many bright, chromatic colors, this set is probably good for you. There are a few bright ranges, but some basic ranges are toned down, for instance, both violet ranges- blue violet and red violet- aren't that bright, but sufficient for muted portrait work or maybe McKinley style landscapes, would be good for shadows...

I've come to really enjoy Giraults, but my first foray of ordering 5 sticks and being disappointed because they were grayed down flesh tones led me to buy the color chart from Dakota. I felt it was worth the money for this particular line especially. There are some fresh, bright flesh tones, but I would have spent more money ordering sticks to find them then I spent on the color chart... Maybe I would have been happier if I started with a set and weren't so particular about colors- I try to keep my pastel number down- even though I have a lot of pastels collected over 5 years, I don't feel the need to own a full set of anything where colors that I never use in my palette are just sitting there- I come from watercolor painting, and do have kind of a palette developed and that has spilled over into my pastel work the past 5 years- so I know which colors will work for me.. Again, I think you could find the basic color ranges from the color wheel in Girault, but some might not be as bright as other pastel lines... They do have some nice reds by the way...

Jay Thank you thank you for posting a photo of your floral set! I was looking at that one too :) I decided instead to buy the color chart and put together my own set- many in your box made it into my cut :) Enjoy, enjoy! Is this your first try with Great Americans? You will love them :)

11-04-2014, 01:33 PM
I love this thread Barbara. I had a very few GA that I had gotten to try but I think you influenced me to try them again and I found that, if I only use them at the very end, I like them. I really needed their colors. Thanks for the good wishes. I used them on those "Friendly Faces" in the gallery, (fall flowers). Had a bit of trouble but I'm learning. Also posting one right now in the Spotlight, fall colors.

11-04-2014, 01:55 PM
Very nice pastels you have there!

I have only one stick of GA haha, I ordered it for some time ago just to test it. I have one set of 25 Girault, Portrait set. Giraults are very nice especially for portraits because for me its easier when they are a Little to the harder side, if compared to the very soft ones.
They also have colours that are uncommon. Its very funny, I have not used them for a long time but I want to order some more now since the are in Europe.

Happy painting with your new ones:)

11-04-2014, 02:27 PM
Jay, wow, thank you for posting the GA 78 color floral set. It comes very close to what I'd imagine as an idealized colourist set. A little short on darks but it's got the hues and tints I use most often and doesn't insist on lots of olive green without any bright greens. There are a few muted hues but they look like useful ones. I'd probably organize differently but this comes much closer to my set. Would just need to add some darks and a few near whites. I can see a few sticks to replace in customizing it.

Yet another great temptation! I should probably go for half sticks though, more bang for the buck.

Barbara, thanks for the warning about Girault purples. I won't be as disappointed knowing this and might put off getting the chart and adding more sticks. I ordered a couple of dark reds based on the photos at Dakota and they were both browner than I thought once I got them, not the clear dark red like an Alizarin Crimson that I wanted.

I can see I might not get many Giraults at all once I've got the spectrum together such as it is. I really don't prefer pre-muted colors and though I liked the texture, their range is weighted toward neutrals so far that it just isn't tempting to get the full range. I wouldn't turn it down if someone gave me the box of course, but if I had the money I'd look to a different brand.

11-04-2014, 02:44 PM
Thanks Barbara for that great description. I think I would probably order what appears to be a very bright from the website, this way I will have an idea as to how muted or greyed the colors really are. I think once i find where my strong points are going to be as a pastelist, i can better make a decision as to what brands i am going to stick with for the long haul.

11-07-2014, 08:34 PM
I LOVE my Great Americans :) I tried them out with the original 1/2 stick set, and fell in love with them. I prefer their creamy soft texture to Sennelier, which I find a bit too crumbly and powdery for my taste. I like how GAs hold together but are still super soft. And the size! You get so much high-quality pastel for your dollar with these.

I decided that I wanted more, but the color family holes I wanted to fill weren't covered by any existing sets, so I went through the chart and ordered my own set-sized amount of open stock! :D I put the sticks together and took this shot before I broke them in half and organized them with my half stick set.

Side note - they also work really beautifully on PastelMat, which is my favorite surface! When I take myself off of new pastel lockdown, I would like to get some more of these delicious things. :heart:

11-07-2014, 09:23 PM
You can find it on Dick Blick.

11-07-2014, 09:37 PM
Oh, these are beautiful colors, Grinner. I love those rich violets and saturated hues and great tints! Lovely collection of filling in colors. Very tempted to get the half sticks sets someday. Maybe next year.

11-10-2014, 07:11 PM
Grinner..I am jealous..lol I will need to making some sort of commitment to one brand sooner or later..lol Just how to choose?

11-10-2014, 11:10 PM
Thanks, Robert!

Jake, have fun experimenting as you figure out what brands you like! Oh, and when you are at a place where you are ready to expand, and it's a good time to do so financially, keep your eyes open for good sales on sets or open stock. They always come around.