View Full Version : Monthly Scumble November 2016

CM Neidhofer
11-01-2016, 12:03 PM
Hi everyone! Welcome to the Scumble, our monthly chat thread where we share the happenings of our everyday lives! I hope you will all chime in and we look forward to hearing about them.

Here's a link to last month's Scumble: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1413706

11-06-2016, 05:59 PM
Purr thanks, Christine!

Nanowrimo's going well. Six days now and I haven't missed a day of writing. Other than that, it's getting cold and sometimes rainy. Children and animals abound. The colors are intermittent but sometimes the sky is breathtaking. I still love the scenery here, though not looking forward to the winter when it all turns brown and gray. This year's winter may be a lot harder than last year's, but weather here is so unpredictable the usual saying is that if you don't like the weather, wait fifteen minutes.

11-20-2016, 03:34 PM
Wow, it's super quiet here in the dust the last couple days. Figures, when I finally have a little time to hang out, there's no one to hang with!

Lol, oh, well.

I was supposed to go see my grandbabies today, but one of them is ill. The upside to that is that i may be able to squeeze in a short trip to Jerry's Artarama instead.


CM Neidhofer
11-20-2016, 07:44 PM
Wow, it's super quiet here in the dust the last couple days. Figures, when I finally have a little time to hang out, there's no one to hang with!

Lol, oh, well.

I was supposed to go see my grandbabies today, but one of them is ill. The upside to that is that i may be able to squeeze in a short trip to Jerry's Artarama instead.


Sorry no body has been here very much! Life gets in the way a LOT! Good to see you here though. I know I'm busy with work and some other projects for the holidays. I'm making my granddaughter a mermaid afghan at the moment.

11-21-2016, 12:19 AM
Christine, those are so cute!


11-23-2016, 08:59 AM
Well, perhaps someone will peek in here before the end of the month and chat about pastel colors.

My sets are cheap student grade for the most part, but I've shopped the nicer ones and I've discovered something...

Dulled, grayed pastels are few and far between. Yet those colors are so prevalent in all the pieces I've attempted!

What am I missing?

I have of course mixed bright colors until i get the dulled of greyed colors, but I often feel that I'm very bad at that as of yet, and the result looks very much like grabbing a handful of crayons and scribbling with them all at once.

Do pastel makers just make bright colors because no one will buy the dull ones?

I spent an hour last night trying to figure out how to get the color of a poppy leaf in the sun. They aren't green, not blue nor precisely grey! I finally managed it with turquoise, grey and cream for highlights. Lol. Thank goodness the bluebonnets were easier.


11-27-2016, 02:55 PM
Shallbe, that's interesting. I tend to like the saturated colors, especially when I've got enough tints and darks in them to be able to do what I want. The muted colors are more likely to turn up in the larger sets. Some brands have more muted colors than others.

Blending colors with pastels, if you use your fingers or a blender you can create blended combinations easily. Having enough tints helps in controlling value on those blends. But there are also some specialized sets of grays, like the 30 piece Maggie Price Grays in Terry Ludwig or the 25 piece Thunderstorm Grays in Mount Vision, that give nuanced grays leaning toward green, violet, blue, red and so on.

Trying to get the exact hue of a particular leaf is tricky. Sometimes what that takes is breaking it down into elements too, it's not going to look natural if it's shaded up and down monochrome grayed-green. It may help to divide the six spectrum colors into twelve - warm and cool versions of each. Warm is leaning toward yellow, cool toward violet really. At least that's how I do it - but you have yellow green and blue green, not just the mid green.

That makes for nuanced complements too.

In looking at the leaf, look at the highlights for reflected color. They may actually take a pale blue or pale blue-green as opposed to a yellower green in the shadowed areas. Turquoise is very useful in pastels.

So is pink, so is a muted dusty violet. That was included in most small sets and had me scratching my head for years, till I started using it in almost everything. Some specific colors become extremely useful like that. Others you find become favorites for personal reasons. I like a deep dark violet more than black as a darkener, it gives richer darks and ties everything together better.

Also, when working from photos, don't trust that the color is always accurate. Photos lie on color as well as value. They're good for detail and depending on distance, perspective. There are various photographic distortions that I just get used to over time and compare to painting from life. When I want true color I paint from life.

You don't need true color though. It's possible to paint with a small set of saturated colors and still have it come out well, as long as you stay aware of it and keep the values accurate. Then color becomes a matter of what works within that painting. I've seen a lot of good landscapes that have pale pink-orange skies. That color does come up at dawn sometimes, it's not unreal, but it's very common in paintings because the normal greenish-blue sky is boring and doesn't always work well with the yellow greens of foliage.

Reflected light from adjacent objects will also affect color. Watch for those subtle shifts and enhance them, that makes a painting richer and also unites it better.

I usually like having a huge palette to pick from and when it's more than 120 colors, can normally match whatever hue and value I want. Beyond that it's even easier. Big sets will have the muted in-between colors. Some interesting mixes turn up in Mount Vision pastels, which are a bargain among the artist grade sets for their size and quality at that price. The owner will do things like mix a gold and violet pigment in a gradation from gold to violet through a lot of lovely browns richer than if they were just comparable brown earths. You will find those muted colors in that brand.

Try out different artist grade brands for texture. Depending on budget, you can start off with Mungyo Gallery Soft Rounds or Semi-Hard, those come in large ranges and have a well distributed color spectrum with plenty of tints and darks. Rembrandt half sticks sets are good. I have a 60 color half sticks set that's very useful, nearly complete except it lacks the deep dark violet I like so much. I may have to get that stick to adjust it and replace the black stick with it, or one of the charcoal grays.

The only thing with rembrandt is that you'll need some cheap sandpaper to clean off a hard coating from all the sticks. It's a side effect of the extrusion process that affects Rembrandt, Winsor & Newton and some other brands. They seem too hard at first and barely make a mark, but once you scrape that coating off they have a lovely texture.

Mungyo Hand Rolled come in the same colors and are more expensive due to labor costs and process. Those are comparable to Unison and Mount Vision and so on.

Super soft ones include Sennelier half sticks, which I like more than the Sennelier full sticks. They're fatter and generous, crumble less and come in good assortments with plenty of neutrals as well as brights. Look for anything that comes in large half sticks sets to get lots of neutrals. The manufacturers do make them, they just tend to put all the saturated colors in as essentials in the smaller sets.

Cheap pastels have a unique soft texture that I used to like but it's very bland. They're mostly dyed chalk and so not very lightfast, but also not toxic. Good for painting on sidewalks by way of price and non toxicity. Go for something better as soon as you can, at least semi hard pastels like the Cretacolor Pastels Carre' or Mungyo Semi-Hard. The softer the pastels, the less binder and the more pigment, the higher the cost.

If you like being able to match colors exactly, go for something with a big range and build up from there. I started like that and only in the past few years have gotten to where I can work with small sets like 12 colors or less. I can do that now but I used to be very uncomfortable with less than 72 or so, the more the better. I still love having a large palette, have just been limited in using my pastels or having all of them out by physical situation since my house isn't built yet. Once I've got that and a big table in it, I might spread out all 1,200 of my pastels at once and do something large and wicked spectacular that I can keep on the easel till it's done.

11-29-2016, 11:39 PM
Oh, boy, Robert...a whole lesson! Thanks so much for taking the time.

I'm taking particular notice of your points about reflected color and the inaccuracy of photos.

I think part of the problem in this particular instance is the deep gray of the paper. Nothing looks "normal" on it. Another issue with the particular painting that has me frustrated right now concerning the muted colors is that the poppy leaves need to be a different color from the bluebonnet leaves.

I have pan pastels which are lovely for mixing, but are more difficult when attempting fine detailing and texture. I have Mungyo square sticks and a few Mungyo gallery sticks.

Perhaps what I need most is... Experience! I need to try different things enough times that I learn what works for me. I should study some color theory, also.

Thanks again for your comment. It's so fun of good information!


11-30-2016, 01:47 PM
Deep gray paper is useful because you can build up lighter and darker from it, as any mid value paper will let you do. With the poppy leaves and bluebonnet leaves, compare them.

Which is lighter?

Which is more saturated?

Which green leans more toward yellow or blue?

How much value contrast is there between the two greens?

You can decide artistically to make one of those greens darker than the other, enhance any of those differences to make it work. In addition, pay attention to the variances within the leaves. How strong is the difference between the highlight on the leaf and its shadow? Are any of the areas of the leaf backlit with sun coming through it? Those areas on any leaf will come out bright, saturated and leaning toward yellow without going olive. They vary in how yellow that flash is, sometimes almost lemony and other times a brilliant emerald nearly mid-green, but light through the leaf will create a patch of very bright saturated color. Shadows falling on top of a leaf will look different from a shadow falling on the back of a leaf too, the shadow on a backlit leaf will be bluer and more muted and may be darker. The shadow on the front will usually be closer to the highlight in the front, but the highlight may be blued by reflected sunlight.

So that's a matter of organizing it and doing color studies of the leaves.

Now for the background. If you want a darker area to stand out, lighten the background with loose strokes of a background color - bluer and more muted than either of the leaves but still possibly green. If you want a lighter area to stand out, go put loose broken color in dark greens on it just behind that. You can mottle the background like there's more dappled light falling on grass or hedges behind it, or like the highlights and shadows of a dark green hedge to make the whole thing pop out better. Then if you like, blend those background areas.

Sketch in the shapes, mass in the background areas light and dark where you want them. Go a little bit over the line if you're blending, because blended pastel takes other pastel easily and that will tone the paper from dark gray to mid green or dark green or light green in some areas. It doesn't have to be solid and shouldn't be solid. Even if it's a mass of random colors in lighter and darker tones it can still work, but plan the lights to go behind dark objects and darks to go behind light objects to push the leaves and flowers forward.

Try to get the values accurate or beautiful, whichever works for the painting. You can exaggerate tone differences to make a painting work, or reflected color, or hue differences. Keep in mind with flowers that there are varieties in completely different colors. If you don't have the reds for the poppies, try orange and remember there are yellow or orange ones. If you don't like one of the greens, use the greens you have but pay attention to tone.

It's easy to mix color in blended areas. Unblended strokes will mix fairly well too by going over each other, but will always jump out with more intensity than blended areas. I use this to push backgrounds away in distance and importance, pull the main subject forward. You can have stems blend off toward the edges of the painting in vignette too.

Also have fun with the direction of the blending strokes. You can do them all the same direction so they vanish, or radiate them outward from the subject so that's another kind of vignetting.

Finally, try your color combinations in small studies. Sketch one leaf on the paper with background choices, try different choices with the same leaf or flower, rather than doing the whole painting. If you break these artistic choices down into small preliminaries they don't take long at all. Work on pieces the size of a business card and try different combos till you get what you want. That'll pay off in practice too when you get to rendering the painting, because you'll be that much more familiar with the shapes and structures of leaves and flowers.

Hope this helps! I really enjoy writing about this kind of thing and you've given me the go-ahead this time. Purr at you!

In Other News...

I have another cat! Cissy was left with us supposedly taking care of her for Tristan, her former owner who has not checked up on her for 8 months or paid anything toward her food and supplies. Cissy is a beautiful long hair color point cat, very long haired and fluffy with lynx points - tabby points, pretty stripes and a pale beige mane shading to light brown back to striped legs and dark tail. She's lovely and clingy and needy.

So after all this time, Kitten decided that she could come inside and be My Cat. I've been loving on her a lot and she adores it. She will stop what she's doing and purr and come bump me if I notice her at all, then mew and complain if I stop petting her. She's super fluffy and likes lap and snuggles. We shared a little yogurt today too. Oddly, she has very large fluffy feet unlike most girl cats, and has a wide square muzzle. She looks as if Ari Cat had a daughter with my first Siamese, the lynx point Jessie cat. She's also big like Ari, a huge fluffy armful of loving.

She's having some verbal arguments with China Princess and Kyra hissed at her on the day she came in, but hopefully they will all get over it. But plans are under way to get my house constructed come Spring. I'm getting a change-over bonus from Social Security and SSI that can go into constructing my house and so we'll get it done in the spring - that's heartening. Even if there are cat arguments, there will be a change in her living situation. If she doesn't get on with Kyra at all, Kyra can stay in the main house leaving Cissy a solo cat territory. I suspect that they'll eventually get along though. While Kyra is supposed to be my cat, she's really more everyone's cat and likes to play and bounce, also is very close to China Princess.

Cissy is calling me. She has a distinctive voice and talks a LOT! The classic chatty Siamese. I hope they get along, I really do.