PDA

View Full Version : Is color a different thing for a pastelist?


Deborah Secor
02-28-2005, 04:03 PM
Hi gang! Okay, I want to ask you to help me think about a something I'm writing on. Color theory...

It seems to me that 'the rules' of color theory (yellow+blue=green, warm colors advance, etc.) are somewhat different for a pastelist. Not that they don't function the same--only that we apply the rules differently. I mean, we don't mix colors like an oil painter or watercolorist. We rely on premixed colors in varying hues, values and intensities, and we layer, scumble, blend and stipple our little hearts out, instead of laying down colors we have carefully mixed ourselves. I think we have to know value better than anyone else...well, we need to be very, very well versed in value anyway!

We recently had a discussion in one of the threads about tonalism vs. colorists so I thought I'd start this thread as an adjunct to it. I'm not sure if it should be here or in the Pastel Talk thread, but I chose to put it here because it's strictly about soft pastels.

So, from a practical perspective, do you handle color differently from your typical oil painter? Is there more to painting in pastels than meets the eye? Do you have to be particularly careful because of the permutations of layering premixed colors? Or do you find that to be particularly freeing?

Any thoughts on this? Thanks...

Oh--hope you enjoyed my 'color work' here! LOL

Deborah

SweetBabyJ
02-28-2005, 04:18 PM
Yes.

Okay, too simplistic. I've found that, because pastels are opaque, their properties are much different than those of oils or watercolours or coloured pencils, et al. Plus, it is apparent to me at least, which sticks sing a "pure" colour- be it a tone or tint- and which are somewhat greyed because of the tone of black or white added to vary the value. On the one hand, it's far easier to get mud in pastels, on the other, it's far easier to nudge "mud" to a hue which appears rich and complex- which is just like colour appears to my eyes "in real".

When you have a medium which allows you to layer orange over purple over green and come up with a passage which is, all at once, green, purple AND orange, all respectively, that's a medium to respect as complex, and satisfying to the eye.

Kitty Wallis
02-28-2005, 04:39 PM
This may not be on the point of your thread Deborah.

I have learned more about color from painting with pastels than I have from using wet mediums that are mixed as you go. I've learned to make colors behave in unexpected ways out of necessity. When we repeatedly 'don't have the right color' as any pastelist will say is our common experience, we must figure out how to get the job done with what we have. So my color usage has stretched.

When I was working with wet mediums I could comfortably depend on my color mixing knowledge. I 'knew' what color I wanted and could mix it. After a few years of pasteling I realized I had been staying within familiar color mixing formulas and uses while using a wet palette and now was more experimental and adept at color. My identity as a colorist had begun.

Deborah Secor
02-28-2005, 04:39 PM
Okay, so you think that the opacity of the medium contributes to the color effect? I guess when I think opaque I think coverage, but here you mean that each color has authority... right? The opacity of each of the colors, the orange, purple and green, allows each one to stand individually while layered together. Is that right?

I love Great American's color wheel set because he has greyed each color with its complement. Those are the most complex, rich, beautiful colors around, in my opinion, when seen in the box. BUT I find that I don't rely on them that much for my paintings. I prefer to create that complexity myself. "Mud" is so relative, you know?

Julie, I think of you as a rather cerebral painter, so I was wondering if you spend a lot of time analyzing color and/or value before using it? Or do you rely more on experience to guide you? Really I could ask this of anyone, but you're here... so...?

How important is value to you as a painter. Anyone???

Thanks--Deborah

Deborah Secor
02-28-2005, 04:49 PM
Looks like we cross-posted here, Kitty. No--your answer isn't off the topic.

So I think you're saying that in mixing your own colors you develop a sort of 'recipe' for certain colors you like and use often, and might become a bit formulaic in making and using them? But in pastels, since you cannot mix the colors but must rely on what you have on hand at the time, you will often use color differently and to better advantage? Doesn't it stand to reason that pastelists become reliant on the getting same color, which they can use repeatedly "out of the tube"?

What is it about pastels that makes them so colorful--even if we aren't talking about colorist paintings, but those done by tonalists (not to put too fine a point on this.)

Deborah

lindadavis
02-28-2005, 05:20 PM
I know an oil painter will probably shoot me for this, but I think using pastels is very freeing when it comes to color. When you use paint and mix colors, you aren't going to consider some of the color combinations and variety you'll see in pastel paintings because you don't have that many colors premixed. It's just easier to use what you've got on the pallete, adjusting with complements or making tones and tints. With pastels the world is your oyster. As long as you pay attention to value, your choices are only limited by how many pastels you have. So I think it is natural for pastel paintings to be much more colorful and vivid and full of surprises than those made with paint.

*ducking*

Deborah Secor
02-28-2005, 05:59 PM
LOL :D Linda--you don't need to duck in here! Now, post that in the oil forum and you may get bullets! But I think we all pretty much agree here, with a bit of room for discussion...

So, what about the idea that you're only limited by the colors you have on hand? I mean, does that give us all the perfect excuse to go buy more colors? (Like we needed an excuse.........) I think Kitty's point was that you often found a way to make it work with what's on hand, hence becoming more creative and adventurous with pastels than with a mixed palette.

I still say the rallying cry of the pastelist is "I need more colors!!!"

Deborah

SweetBabyJ
02-28-2005, 06:07 PM
LOL Linda! You shouldn't have to duck- oilists don't know what they're missing when it comes to colour useage.

Okay, Deborah- lemme see if I understand your question. Do I think it is because pastels themselves are opaque, or because each colour is opaque and therefore has "authority" (great word!) which allows such rich colour use? If so, the answer, again, is "Yes".

I consider each of those attributes to be one and the same- the orange is opaque, and so is the purple, but because of pastels' unique properties, that opacity (is that my word??)allows each to share authority when layered. A relationship of equals, as it were. Wet mediums actively discourage mixing up orange and purple- all's you'll get is a brownish gray of some sort; yet in pastels, layering those two over and over each other works just fine. I'd imagine it is that way in coloured pencils, too, to some extent, although they'd be more like watercolours because they are transparent, so each colour will be there, and optically mix to make a whole 'nuther colour. Pastels don't necessarily make a whole 'nuther colour; instead, each colour is is present, and viewable.

I consider value, but in a pinch, colour will have to do. That's the opposite of "the rule", I know, but, for example, let's say I need a medium dark warm green, and don't have one. Down goes a dark blue to establish the darker value, then a brick, a medium blue, then a orange yellow. "Adjust seasonings"- meaning, add back whatever one of the above colours it needs- a bit bluer? A sweep more in a medium blue then. Not warm enough? Brick again. Not yet reading green? Orange yellow it is. The result *appears* dark warm green- try it and see.

"Cerebral painter"?? hahahaha! Deborah, it wasn't until a few years ago I'd even work in colour which wasn't absolutely simple- I couldn't figure out the hows and whys. I could "parrot" it- I "knew in my head" how it was supposed to work, but the message never made it to my hands. I dunno what happened, watercolours gave me some clues, but still, I'd end up with a lot of mud, sometimes. Oils gave me fits- some were strong and staining, others were insipid and barely shifted a hue- I wasted a lot of paint. Something clicked with pastels, and colour makes sense now- As long as I have a representative of each primary, I can make just about any colour- or at least, make a passage *appear* to be whatever colour I want. That's more truthful. I try NOT to think about it, just look and see what strikes my fancy, but I suppose there's a great deal of instinct going on anymore.

I think of colours like flavors- have you ever read a recipe for something and "known" what the flavor would be before you even tasted it? Known whether or not it would work- or if it didn't, what you should add to make the flavor palatable to you? That's how I think of colour- I layer them to make a palatable hue.

Maybe that's why Kitty is right, too- we "never have the perfect hue", so we learn to make what we have work as the hue we need. Guess that's why I say the oilists don't know what they're missing- even layers of patient glazing don't give them quite the same ability.

tURBOCAT
02-28-2005, 08:11 PM
I'll chime in! At least in how it works for me.

I am seriously possessed by color. My background is commerical art/graphic design and hence I've been on many press checks when printing final ad materials. And after doing that for MANY years (we won't tell how many!) you develop an eye for color and can, in an instant tell what colors are "contained in other colors" - like this has more yellow, more blue, etc - getting down to seeing 2% differences when on the printing press.

So..... for me, pastels are color heaven and as several of you mentioned, the layering to get the composite effect is intriquing, challenging and plain fun. I think it is more expressive than mixing a perfect paint match. You can get there more than one way, unlike a perfect paint swatch which boils down to a formula. (If you've worked with print materials, every color is some exact percentage combination of inks.)

Deb - since you are writing something about color theory - I think we expand on pointillism - our eye can blend a lot of the stokes we put down and I think we use that to an advantage.

I have found I use MANY more colors in building up an area than with paint. And value plays a big part here. Recently I was doing a shadowed area of water. In paint, it would have been a darker blue. Instead I put down a dark green & a dark teal (darkest values)and some brown and then a smoky purple (ever so slightly lighter in value) and THEN a lighter teal until it was the right shade.

Way more fun and much more depth. Have I stayed on topic? I got carried away.

Kathryn Wilson
02-28-2005, 11:48 PM
Doesn't it stand to reason that pastelists become reliant on the getting same color, which they can use repeatedly "out of the tube"?


I do rely on pastels to be the same color each time - I've come to depend on them because if I had to mix a certain color with oils, I would be totally lost. I don't have to have a formula in my head - I just reach in my box and get "the wonderful blue" or that "perfect yellow" I tend to use in my paintings over and over.

So if there is a negative to this it is that I have no idea what the makeup of these pastel colors are - I'm sure there are color formulas for making a certain pastel color, but darned if I could come up with it - :eek:

Kitty Wallis
03-01-2005, 03:02 AM
Yes, Values, the first consideration in my color work. Since I'm after light and form I build those with value. No says my other half, color is more important in getting light. But, says my first voice, it all falls apart if the wrong values are used.

I can use many different colors that aren't the 'right' ones if the value is correct.

The mist sketch is almost entirely value choice. The portrait is value carefully chosen to allow more expressive colors than 'skin tone' usually assumes.

jackiesimmonds
03-01-2005, 03:17 AM
I think (and I use that word deliberately) that I am more of a tonal painter than a colourist. I UNDERSTAND the rules of colour ...and often use them consciously in my work with pastels...but my choice of colour in a picture is often dictated more by its tone than by local colour. If I don't have exactly the colour I see in nature, I use the nearest equivalent quite happily, and I use a colour that works for the PICTURE rather than one that equates to what I SEE in my scene. If the tone is right, then that will do for me. Then, the consideration of what that colour is DOING in the picture, from both a colour theory and from an emotional standpoint, comes into consideration. Is it too cool? Does it sing against the one next to it? Does it contrast too much and destroy the atmosphere? these are the sorts of questions I ask myself as I work.

Now, whether I am working in oils, or pastels, the same questions apply, the same colour theory applies, and the same considerations about tone values apply. What differs, for me, is that I feel more of a sense of freedom when working with pastels. I sometimes pick up an unexpected colour (covered in dust) and I like the happy accidents. I like what happens when an "under" colour peeks through subsequent applications of other colours. I do not always deliberately layer colours so that these things happen...I prefer to create exciting passages of colour with visual mixes rather than actual layers one over another. I take risks sometimes, because I CAN with pastels - ok this passage is a bit boring... let's try this bright orange here ...oops, doesn't work! So brush it off. Sometimes, it does work, and then it's Oh wow. Because I can work with this kind of spontaneity and immediacy with pastels, and with no waiting for layers to dry, I can exploit this freedom.

Perhaps I am not an experienced enough oil painter to make proper comparisons. Maybe there are oil painters out there who work in a similar way, taking risks, allowing for happy accidents; I find when I work with oils, I tend to slave away at the mixing, I take far fewer risks, and find it frustrating.

I am not sure any of this answers any of your questions, deborah, but there we are. Not very articulate, but I thought I would just pop in a few words.

J

by the way ... although I am nowhere near as brave as Kitty in my use of colour (wish I was tho) I totally relate to what she says.

vhere
03-01-2005, 03:33 AM
I use virtually all media regularly and oil the most,

colour mixing in pastel is different - but I often mix colours in my painting with oils in a similar way to pastels - I skim colours over another leaving flecks of the under colour showing through in the same way, I scratch through to layers beneath, glaze, scumble, deliberately pick up the layer below so it partially combines - and don't work dramatically differently from the way I use pastels. I never mix up a batch of colour and that's it, it will always have subtle changes and scumbles and stuff going on on the painting surface to modulate it.


so, not wildly different for me

IndigoRed
03-01-2005, 04:38 AM
What is it about pastels that makes them so colorful
Deborah


This question is what caught my attention with this thread.......so here are my two cents ;)

What makes them so colorful?

1. Pure pigment rolled into a stick, when you glide that stick across paper, its the most cleanest, simplest, and expressionistic way to bring COLOR to life.

2. Pastel mixing, blending, and harmonizeing. (This applies to high grade pastels which there are many of) you will learn so much about color, value, chroma, ect, (imho) more with pastels than you will with any other media. How can you not, you are working with pigments in its natural form (dry), if you want a new color, crush two pure colors together, mix them with a bit of water, and you will get the TRUE outcome, where as with wet media the addition of foriegn (turps, linseed oil, liquin, etc.) changes that pigments character. MUD is so easy to make in wet media......creating MUD with pastels is something you have to try HARD at.

3. For those that are having trouble with VALUE in their painting(s). Pastels are the simplest way to learn value......there are so many manufacturers and even home pastellist that have made EXCELLENT value series in their collection.

4. There is no mixing, no brushes, gesso, stretching of paper or canvas. Only thing you have to have is the desire to put COLOR to paper.

5. When it comes to blending pastels together on paper or whatever support you choose of course its not EXACTLY like painting in wet media.....but to me its close.....lay one color down then lay another next to closely, then blend with your fingers or what have you, until you get the desired effect. How hard can that be? There are some papers out there that you dont even need to use a blending tool.....

My opinion is once you find the right pastel there is a support out there that it will go perfect with........with me it is Giraults and Wallis.....and at one point in time i had sworn i would never paint on anything else except for Suede and Velour.......the Support DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE in how a pastel will works. With velour or suede there is barely BARELY any blending possibilities.....so i had to be careful with how i applied pastels....because they are ALWAYS opaque on those supports......

Ive always considered myself a "value" painter because thats what i see in every subject first........the values.....the first thing that pops out at me is the dark...then so on to the highlights.......maybe its because i was a pencil artist for 15 years lol

I have yet to come across a pastel i did not like. lol Even the fugitive (spelling? not lightfast is what i mean) i will not toss......even those have their uses. For learning, study, quick sketches..etc.......Never waste a pastel, they are worth every penny you spend, even the cheapies. :D

Did i do ok Dee? lol

Stephanie

SweetBabyJ
03-01-2005, 10:37 PM
Here's a little nifty from Andrea- it shows you how easily values can fool you- especially if you see colour with them:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=254361

IndigoRed
03-01-2005, 10:51 PM
Isnt that the same concept as what jackie discussed awhile back about making swatches of all your pastels then scanning them, turn them black and white and you get the value in greyscale......hence it would be easier for you to be able to use them correctly in a painting?? i could be wrong lol........

but when i dont exactly see color in values.....is see value......even in a very colorful painting.........its like the opposite ......hard to explain.......

Steph

SweetBabyJ
03-01-2005, 10:58 PM
Yeah, it is, but this one is actually quite tricky because our brains are telling us those two gray squares CANNOT be the same value- impossible! One is light, one dark- we *know* that- it's a checkerboard for pete's sake! And even if you know it's a trick, and squint your eyes, they STILL try and deceive you- that seems to be because the green object's value is contained in a colour, whereas the board's is grayscale.

IndigoRed
03-01-2005, 10:59 PM
Sounds like to much annalyzing to me lol.........im off to read jackies thread again on it .......

Steph

IndigoRed
03-01-2005, 11:43 PM
This isnt the one where she demonstrated with scanned pics of color and turned them grayscale...but this was helpful too......how you and jackie explained a few things made alot of sense......

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=229741&highlight=grayscale+pastels

Deborah Secor
03-02-2005, 02:24 PM
Golly--I go off for most of the day and look at all you've had to say! :D

Julie said: I think of colours like flavors- have you ever read a recipe for something and "known" what the flavor would be before you even tasted it? Known whether or not it would work- or if it didn't, what you should add to make the flavor palatable to you? That's how I think of colour- I layer them to make a palatable hue.

Julie, I like you're cooking analogy. It sure works for me! I 'flavor' things all the time, even speaking of colors as 'dry' or 'sweet', as in wine (which I used to drink, although I don't anymore...I still know how those different flavors are expressed, however, and taste seems to parallel colors somehow!)

Kat said: So if there is a negative to this it is that I have no idea what the makeup of these pastel colors are - I'm sure there are color formulas for making a certain pastel color, but darned if I could come up with it -

Yep, know what you mean. I have had so much trouble explaining to students about color mixing because they have never mixed it before. That's why when they make their own pastels they seem so thrilled! Understanding dawns...


Kitty said: Yes, Values, the first consideration in my color work. Since I'm after light and form I build those with value. No says my other half, color is more important in getting light. But, says my first voice, it all falls apart if the wrong values are used.

I can use many different colors that aren't the 'right' ones if the value is correct.

Wow--those paintings are a great representation of your point.

Jackie said: If I don't have exactly the colour I see in nature, I use the nearest equivalent quite happily, and I use a colour that works for the PICTURE rather than one that equates to what I SEE in my scene. If the tone is right, then that will do for me.

Value before color--but not to the exclusion of color, right? It seems Kitty and Jackie are agreeing on this, just saying it from different directions...

vhere, thanks for sharing! Sounds to me like you might enjoy pastels.... <heh heh> We're always trying to tempt people into the dust here!

Stephanie said: For those that are having trouble with VALUE in their painting(s). Pastels are the simplest way to learn value......there are so many manufacturers and even home pastellist that have made EXCELLENT value series in their collection.

Yep, right on! It's always instructive to use one color in different values, and having this kind of visual demo is helpfulto those who are getting started, I think. (And yes, you did good! LOL)

Julie, that graphic fom Andrea is a dandy one! I've always seemed to be able to 'see' my way out of such puzzles, but for this one I had to cut and paste! Very strong. Thanks for pointing us to it. Now--maybe we need to do that same thing using color.... a challenge for you!! (I call it a bridge color--when one color looks dark in the light areas and light in the dark areas--and very useful it is, too!)

I love the computer for such things. I often grayscale a photo, then grayscale my painting to compare things. I don't necessarily want it to agree, but I do want to know when, why and how I broke thre rules, and how that made it work!

Okay, sounds to me like we're all agreeing that color in pastels is a little different than it is for othe media, if only because we layer pre-mixed colors. But in addition, we generally rely on value first, while also taking advantage of the incredible range of colors available in a lot of values.

Anyone want to comment on the idea that pastels come in far more pale, insipid colors? Hence the name 'pastels' for the baby's bedroom colors... Do you find that to be true--that your choice of colors tends to be chalky and whitish, overly leaning to the pale side???

Thanks for all this discussion, by the way!!

Deborah

IndigoRed
03-02-2005, 02:50 PM
Thanks Dee! I was hoping that i had contributed to the discussion :D And i am also hoping that jackie didnt mind me mentioning her and other discussions she has had on this subject.

Anyone want to comment on the idea that pastels come in far more pale, insipid colors?

The only time ive ever seen colors like this is in cheapy sets, and cheapy pastel pencils, tho those are usually used in scrapbooking now. Could it be that they were/are seen as such because people still do not understand them, other than the actual artists that use them? Ive even had other artists here in oklahoma that ive talked to not know exactly about pastels......
Exmaple:

Every april there is an Arts Festival here in Okc....always around my bday and im usually excited about it, and since the first time i went almost 10 years ago, ive always wanted to see if i could become a part of it.
Well i called the Oklahoma Musuem of Art which now controls those types of things, to find out what all i had to do........you wouldnt believe what i was told..........She asked me if pastels were a WATERMEDIA!!!
I couldnt say anything for a few seconds ........she needed to know because she needed to send me the form to fill out for my catagory.......Pastels here has NO catagory!.......Talk about a huge disappointment.......I kept telling her what it was and she said, could it be considered 2D art, Mixed media, etc etc.....i said well if you want to get seriously technical i guess it could be considered a drawing media...but the end result is a painting.......then thats when she told me that there is no such catagory for that.......

What do they not have pastel paintings??! These are the people who run the museum, they have had showings of old master pastel paintings im sure.......then again....

So my aunt who lives up by The Nelson Museum (i would live in that place if i could lol) told me that this year i should go to the festival and do some home work....look for artists that are showing paintings and see if i come across a pastel painting, and if i do , i am to casually ask the artist what catagory is she under, shouldnt be no secret.....

But this is what i deal with down here.....I have thought about going to Peseo (however thats spelled) its a small art community and residence here, and checking out the galleries there..........

I have a feeling tho, that im going to have another let down, and will have to continue being an artist in a shell here........sigh.......

But back to your question......what i said about the cheapy pastels is just my opinion, im going to go do some research and see if there is an actual reason..lol..........

Thanks for a wonderful thread Dee.

Stephanie

SweetBabyJ
03-02-2005, 03:34 PM
"Anyone want to comment on the idea that pastels come in far more pale, insipid colors? Hence the name 'pastels' for the baby's bedroom colors... Do you find that to be true--that your choice of colors tends to be chalky and whitish, overly leaning to the pale side???"


LOL! You have seen my paintings, haven't you?? hahaha!!

Deborah Secor
03-02-2005, 03:41 PM
Stephanie--If you mean the OKC Festival of the Arts that's held in April, I used to do that show. The category was/is DRAWING! You'll usually find pastels lumped in with pencil, charcoal and etc. It works to advantage sometimes, in that you compete against work that is often not colorful--which gets the attention of jurors! You can go to their web page and download the application. (BTW, in 20 years of doing fairs I found the OKC Festival to be one of my top 10 shows. A tough one to do--outdoors for 6 days... <pant, pant> )

Deborah

meowmeow
03-02-2005, 03:51 PM
I'm needing to just read this over and think on it....I know I like color...I know I like pastels. That's about all I can say for sure right now!!!!


SAndy

IndigoRed
03-02-2005, 03:55 PM
Thats what i thought too dee, that more than likely it would be lumped in with pencils and such.....but the person on the phone that handled all the forms and such , said that they have now "rearranged" how they are doing submitions into the festival......She looked under ever catagory , and no where was the found "Pastel painting, Pastel Drawing etc.......And then she asked me if i thought maybe this wasnt for me.........

If i had thought that i wouldnt have called to begin with.

If you have time Dee, could we discuss this subject more through PM's?? Im having a hard time finding people here to talk to about getting into local juried artshows and such, even unjuried....

Thanks
Stephanie

Khadres
03-02-2005, 04:07 PM
Anyone want to comment on the idea that pastels come in far more pale, insipid colors? Hence the name 'pastels' for the baby's bedroom colors... Do you find that to be true--that your choice of colors tends to be chalky and whitish, overly leaning to the pale side???

Oh, wow, I've battled this one a time or two! A good friend of mine once told me, "Oh, ick, I HATE pastels! They're so wishy washy and blahhh...I mean, pink? Baby blue? Mint green? YICK!" If you try typing in "soft pastels" in the eBay search box, you get about half art supplies and the rest is anything from baby booties to delicate tutus! And while it's funny on the one hand, it's unfortunate on the other in that it's just another instance of having to overcome ignorance to get the medium out into the mainstream of art.

And if we think about it, some of those "insipid", pale colors can actually make an otherwise chaotic palette sing. There's probably not a single color made in pastels that doesn't have a place somewhere. Chalkiness seems to come more from overblending than the color itself...at least for me. If I had to classify a medium's colors as insipid or pale, I'd look to watercolors first and even then, it's usually the artist that makes 'em that way, not the manufacturer. (OK, I'm going into hiding now until the watercolorists put away their shotguns! :D)

Marc Hanson
03-02-2005, 11:09 PM
It seems to me that 'the rules' of color theory (yellow+blue=green, warm colors advance, etc.) are somewhat different for a pastelist. Not that they don't function the same--only that we apply the rules differently. I mean, we don't mix colors like an oil painter or watercolorist. We rely on premixed colors in varying hues, values and intensities, and we layer, scumble, blend and stipple our little hearts out, instead of laying down colors we have carefully mixed ourselves. I think we have to know value better than anyone else...well, we need to be very, very well versed in value anyway!

So, from a practical perspective, do you handle color differently from your typical oil painter? Is there more to painting in pastels than meets the eye? Do you have to be particularly careful because of the permutations of layering premixed colors? Or do you find that to be particularly freeing?

Any thoughts on this? Thanks...

Deborah,

I didn't think I had a reply for the question at first until I tried to say that. While trying to get out of answering something that I don't ordinarily worry or think about, I discovered I do have an opinion! I posted it originally in my thread, but have pasted it below.

As to the question of "having to know value better than anyone else..", I don't agree with that. Working with any medium requires being able to relate value and color. Each medium has a different 'technique' for applying that knowledge, but to depict color accurately, an understanding of how value and color are related is imperative.

An analogy...I think...I fly airplanes or used to. All wings fly based on the exact same physical principles whether a 747 or a balsa model. But every aircraft flying requires a different approach based on configuration. Different wing shapes all displace air in a manner that creates flight, but the requirements to keep those different wings in the air are great. A Piper Cub flying at 60kts requires a different technique than a small 'slippery' aerobatic 200kt airplane to stay airborne. Different sensitivities, airspeeds, judgements, etc..

Different mediums require different approaches as well to accomplish the same goal. I think that's all there is to it. So when I'm working with Oil Paints, I try to keep flying but with a different technique than when I'm flying with Pastels, but the goal is the same...to keep flying.

The viewpoint, style and vision of individual artists and how they use and interpret color is a different matter than ''Do we as pastelists handle color differently", I think.

Hmmm, I'll take a look but am not really sure without looking that I know how I'd answer that one. Nothing inspires me, makes me want to paint more than color whether I'm working in oil, pastel or any other medium. In fact, I do a number of Black and White oil studies outside, but only to better understand color. Those studies give a better understanding of value, hence color. Is that a colorist or a tonalist? Not sure, but I know that I've never been inspired to paint a subject due to lovely 'tones'.

There are just different ways to apply different mediums. That's inherent in the medium of choice, it's what makes each different from the other. Gouche needs to be used differently than Acrylic and those different than colored pencil...and so on.

Isn't it a function of the medium as to color use in the sense that your question is posed, not whether or not one looks more to color than value(tonal )qualities in a subject? That's another topic I think.

Marc Hanson
03-02-2005, 11:31 PM
To continue, I do agree with those who've mentioned that pastels have freed their use of color. I've found the same thing. I'm frequently asked by students what the benefits of using oils are on my pastel work and visa versa.

My usual comment is that pastels have given me the confidence to use color in the oils that I didn't have before using pastels. And the techniques that I use with oils, ie, washes, impasto, thin to thick, etc., I now employ with pastels. So they both benefit the other, one keeps the other 'honest'. :wink2:

jackiesimmonds
03-03-2005, 02:44 AM
Sooz - no problem bringing my name/threads up.

Marc..I like the way you think. I am totally with you with everything you have said.
(I like the way you paint too. I am a fan.)

Deborah Secor
03-03-2005, 09:45 AM
Thanks for contributing, Marc! :D

As you quoted, I think I said that "we have to know value better than anyone else...well, we need to be very, very well versed in value anyway!" As soon as I typed that first part I knew it wasn't exactly true! :wink2:

I think the point is that because pastelists do not mix colors on a palette we must make it our business to learn about color mixing, and we have to do more than simply rely on the palette of colors at hand--we may not mix but we still have to make sure we have a range of values and colors ready to reach for, as well as having knowledge we can put into practice about how that value/color will work! We often are forced to learn how to make color behave, from a value standpoint, by layering, scumbling, or blending, when we don't have the proper value/color in our palette. That's part of what has made my color work stronger.

Marc, it's neat the way you compared your experiences in pastel and oils. There seems to be an overlap--values--in all media, while pastel's strength is color. I think what you said about pastels giving you color confidence is what is strongest about our medium.

Do all of us agree that the greatest advantage of using pastels is its (range, purity, brilliance, subtelty) of COLOR?

Deborah

Marc Hanson
03-03-2005, 10:55 AM
Deborah,

I cheated by only using the first part of the quote, not fair to your statement in whole! :wink2:

I'm not sure that saying one medium's strength over another is color reads right to me. I do understand what you are saying in as far as the technique required to achieve a color vs mixing in a wet medium.

Was it Kitty (or someone else here), who said that she found that the limited number of pastels at hand caused her to choose color that she would have not otherwise even tried? I totally relate to that, and I think that's the freeing part of working in pastel. The need, or ability to make marks that may not be in our 'comfort zone', but are easily corrected if not just what we want. Do that with oils and you need to wipe out, overpaint, consume time, etc......That ability with pastel leads to one doing more experimentation I think. I also find it so much easier to achieve the correct edges, drawing and expressive marks than I do wielding a brush with paint on it that has to be the correct thick or thinness, on a surface that is right for the image, with a brush that isn't a disaster, and in the case of cold climates not too stiff from the cold.

BUT, I am still in love with the textural and tactile sense that oils have...both very expressive qualities.

With oils it's expected ( I expect it for myself anyway..) that you won't give up until the correct color is achieved through mixing. Usually that means that the color has a tendency to become less vibrant, and lively. With pastels an intense red on a chartreuse vibrates, no blending of the pigment's physical state as in oils or other wet media. If that's what you mean, then I totally agree.

However, I once took an oil paintng workshop from a well known portrait painter who never let us mix anything on the palette. All mixing was accomplished by 'altering' color on the canvas with the 26 or so pigments on the palette by choosing a cooler/warmer color of the 'correct' value. That's very much like working with pastels, blending is happening on the canvas of course, but the idea is the same. Once the first color is laid on, all blending is done with tube color off of the palette. It's an extensive palette with a full range of warm and cool, light, medium and dark values representing a pretty good full color spectrum. In this case the lit side of the face was initially painted in pure thick Cad yellow, the shadow side of the face in Dioxazine purple. We learned to alter those base colors to accurate flesh tones by using this palette's array of pigments. All by mixing on the canvas, but the choice of what to use to mix on the canvas with was tough. A lot like choosing a pastel stick in the palette not knowing for sure what the result will be on the paper until it's up there.