View Full Version : Color My World

02-23-2016, 10:43 PM
Color is a personal thing. Looking at colors on a computer screen or phone is not a true indicator of what you'll feel about them in person.

I'm a newbie who has been looking at various manufacturers colors on line for a few weeks, and what follows is my impression.

Great American colors seem "comic bookish", and loud. Lacking subtlety.

Unison colors seem muted, laid back, sophisticated.

Sennelier colors seem to be what their labels say they are.

Any comments, or suggestions for a rookie?

02-24-2016, 12:30 AM
Welcome to the Pastel forum!

I do think each brand has its own "color sense". You also have to remember each brand also has its own consistency, or "softness". Having a mix of brands has been very beneficial to me, as each brand of pastel acts differently both in color as well as application. Some of those unsophisticated colors can come in handy as a last application of saturated color when you need it. All of the professional brands of pastels can be used with each other, they play nicely as together. That is important to remember when purchasing, you are not limited with regard to how to use them.

My suggestion would be to buy a sampler set from Dakota Pastels, that might help you get an idea of what each brand feels like when using them.

I recommend all my new students buy Rembrandt half sticks as a starter set. They are not too hard, not too soft, and they are not too expensive. They are professional quality, so you would not be painting with an inferior product.

Mount Vision pastels are another great product, a bit softer. They are a great value, they are handmade and professional quality, and the colors are gorgeous.

I have just about every brand made, and to suggest to a rookie that they buy the super expensive ones (like Ludwigs) in the beginning is crazy. There is no need for that, first play and see if you even like pastels before you invest in the really expensive ones. Also, the really soft pastels are a bit more difficult to handle, so sticking with the Rembrandts and Mount Visions in the beginning will be less frustrating.

This is what I recommend to beginners. Pastels can be a very expensive medium, start slowly and always buy professional grade.

02-24-2016, 04:12 PM
Chris has given good advice. My own personal impression: Every artist grade pastel brand has lovely, intense colors, so there is really no need to study them online. Some online color charts are more realistic, others not so much, so I wouldn't use the online charts as a definitive guide. What some brands do not have enough of is "colorful" grays and/or vary dark pastels. Some brands have special sets of these to fill in the voids. But the softness and texture of the pastels is the main difference between brands, so the starter set Chris mentions is a good idea if you want to go that far with your research. Otherwise, Rembrandts or Mount Visions are a good place to start. Mount Visions, in fact, has some lovely gray sets.


02-24-2016, 06:06 PM
Thanks very much Ally and Dak for the thoughtful advice. By the way Dak, I live in Clifton Park. JeffG

02-24-2016, 09:25 PM
I wound up buying and using many different brands. Agree that Rembrandt half sticks are a good first choice, the larger the set the better. I use a 60 color half sticks set for an away set or plein air and that has a great range.

That said, I do use the saturated spectrum colors and especially like being able to follow a hue like ultramarine or red-orange from very light tint through brightest bright to a deep dark. Some sets are arrangedd that way with tints and darks around the spectrum. 120 Unison half sticks are set up that way and wonderfully complete, do include some grays and browns, most of all enough tints and shades to modify color without changing the hue.

A deep dark violet is more important than black and has more zing than a black stick. Used as a shading or underpainting color that violet unifies a painting and makes it sing.

I'd also advise general assortments over landscape or portraits ones. Even doing a lot of portraits it's possible to build up those earth tones with complementary colors, say violet into gold, more than a flat earth tone. A few sticks are useful but it's possible to get lost in too many earth tones and get too literal on skin tone, losing nuances of reflected light and color in shadows.

A dusty mid-value grayed purple is crazy useful when I had no idea it would be. Don't get rid of sticks, they each do have a good purpose when you get a feel for them!

Softer pastels like Sennelier go over Rembrandt even when the tooth of the paper is full, in lights, darks and brights those are great for final marks. Used by themselves the super soft ones take a light touch and careful pressure control. Half stick sets are reasonable and Sennelier my suggestion for a final marks set to go over Rembrandt.

All brands do play well together once you understand their feel though. Try different brands on sale or used or in Swap Shop over time to find your particular favorites. The more pastels you have, the less likely it is that you'll use up any of them.

02-25-2016, 02:15 AM
I have pastels in each of those brands, and there are plenty of gorgeous, subtle neutral colors among the Great Americans just as there are vivid, lively colors among the Unisons. Here is someone's full set of Great Americans (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showpost.php?p=20230178) - yes there are many lovely brights, but there are so many grayed colors here. They are just not all grouped together, and by definition they will not stand out to the eye the way a bright color will, so you may be missing them. Look again.

Meanwhile, you want to see as many as possible in real life. Here are some pastel sampler sets (http://www.fineartstore.com/search.aspx?searchterm=pastel+sampler)that may interest you so you can play with different brands and see them in person. That's when the fun begins :)