View Full Version : Soft pastel mixing/color theory

05-12-2018, 07:22 PM
Salutations and a pleasurable day everyone. So I'm about to get some soft pastels and the supplies that would go with it, for my birthday in 3 days. A friend of my family's is selling 30 mungyo handmade pastels(slightly used), some glassine(enough to cover sheets of the following), and 12 x 16 canson mi-tientes, for $40. Yay for private offers! Anyway I've researched about pastels, know about various techniques, all that good stuff. And I've gotten some 4x6 trial sheets from uart, a 5x7 clairfonte pastel mat free trial paper, and a 5x7 ampersand pastelboard. They all actually gave me free sample, art supply companies are so nice. Anway the one thing I've found little about is mixing colors for other ones. I realize that it's harder to mix, since everything is done on the paper. But due to me having a small set of pastels, I think this would be crucial. I know how to mix colors, and colour theory. But is it plausible with pastel? Anything would be helpful, text, photos, process, anything. And thank you.

05-13-2018, 12:50 AM
Welcome to the forum!

If you know how to mix colors with other types of paint, then you should be well on your way with mixing pastels. And yes, it is a good idea - especially if you don't want to buy 1,000 sticks!

It can be a bit more of a challenge with pastels as they are somewhat opaque. Try not to be too heavy handed with your initial colors so that the first layers are somewhat thin and don't fill up the tooth of the paper. Other than that, I have no specific mixing advice. As with most pastel techniques, the best thing to do is just try them out and see what works best for you.


Donna T
05-13-2018, 09:33 AM
New pastels and supplies sound like the perfect birthday present! Happy birthday and welcome! Don is right about trying out the pastels and the papers to see what they can do. One of the things you might discover is that there is not a lot of physical mixing of pastels required in order to achieve a variety of different colors. Allowing pastel strokes to sit side-by-side or letting an underpainting color show through creates much more luminous color than blending the pastel particles together in most instances. This kind of optical mixing is well suited for pastels. If you are careful not to blend different values or color temperatures together you can create some unique and beautiful colors but it's very easy to get a lifeless mud this way. Here are a few links to blogs that have some good examples of how colors are mixed without necessarily blending them together. Look closely to see how the colorful underpaintings affect the colors placed on top. Have fun with your new supplies!

A still life demo by Gail Sibley (http://www.howtopastel.com/2015/08/still-life-demo-at-peninsula-gallery/)

A landscape demo by Ed Kennedy from several years ago here on WetCanvas (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=482852)

05-13-2018, 10:49 PM
and if i learn (i try show my works i heavy now idea even one paittin) mxing pastels i can maybe use them later becouse if i need 100 hues or more its impossible. i feel if i can develop set of 30-45 pastels for me i can continue but bigger range goes quickly too pricey to me.

05-14-2018, 10:09 AM
Happy Birthday! Pastels are the BEST birthday gift. :)

You won't be mixing your pastels in the same way you would mix oils and acrylics. Color theory is the same as far as how to work with color- the handling is a bit different. If you need to push a color in another direction you can layer another color over it but keep in mind you will lose vibrancy.

30 sticks is a very good start, you'll love the handmade Mungyos and you can do a lot with that set. (I have it. It's one of my plein air favorites because the range is very good)

Don't get too caught up on trying to mix all your colors... block in your shapes and get your values right, work with what you have instead of thinking you have to mix everything together. Layer your colors and it will work out fine. The range in that 30 Mungyo set is really good. :)

Moises Menendez
05-17-2018, 08:45 PM
One artist who uses Nupastel and blend without creating mud is Igor Babailov.
Another artist who mixes colors or hues is Nguyen Cuon who uses pastel pencils. Both create great works.