View Full Version : Pearlescent pastels

01-29-2006, 11:51 AM
Does anyone have experience painting with pearlescent pastels?

01-29-2006, 12:20 PM
I do. I have some of the Great American Artworks peralescents that came with my floral set. They are super for highlighting. Not glossy or garish. They have a soft look that just brightens and lighten for the highlight area. Pretty colors too. Now, I haven't used the irridescents but, they, from looking at the pictures, seem to be more glitzy.

01-29-2006, 08:07 PM
I have played around with the GA's... sellies have a few too- but the ga's are wonderful- diane townsend has some great metallics, etc. too- but here is the catch- trying to photograph the colors accurately- a lot of this sort of stuff- I suspect they use ground mica or something- but it bounces the light off of the pastel, and does not photograph well- usually- same with metallic, diachrome, etc. watercolors, etc.... PS- saw a painting in a magazine done with 90% (I think) GA pearlescents.... it was lovely- but not seeing it in real life, the painting in the mag. did not show up the effect.... however, the GA's are worth having just to play with.... there is one I used to throw in about everything- was so cool...

01-29-2006, 08:26 PM
They probably airbrushed that one. Saw it. Chicago - rocks!! Seriously, I like the brightening effect of the gas. but, I think they don't glare like the irrid, and the metallics. those are kinda garish. The pearls are soft effect. and brightening.
I would suggest getting a few open stock to try. If you don't like your not out of much $$. If you do you can go from there.

01-29-2006, 08:46 PM
I've used metallics in a few paintings, usually water paintings, truth be told. I have a few sennellier and GA pearlies and I also got a set of Sakura Carre pearlescents that I like too. Those ones are hard pastels, but still really fun to play with.

01-29-2006, 09:05 PM
Hello Sielograms - welcome to the pastel forum.

What were you thinking of using them for? If we knew what you were going to try them on, you may get a bit more specific answer.

I have both the Sennelier and GA sets and they are great for final touches. I haven't noticed the photographing problem that Linda mentioned but then I've only used them as finishing touches - probably not enough to effect the camera. Good point though Linda - will have to keep that in mnd. Polychromos have a couple of metallics but the silver one just looks gray, the gold and bronze are a bit more reflective though.

01-30-2006, 08:30 PM
In reading most of the reponses, it seems many of you use them to highlight. I thought that is probably how I'd use them. I bought a box of 12 by Van Gogh. I still have yet to try them. I'm presently working on a painting of a waterfall, maybe I'll find the right spot to try them. Thanks.

01-30-2006, 08:47 PM
It's a pity you got those. I had some when I first started. Be prepared for they are very very hard. It's very hard to get color out of them. You may want to scrape some off onto a peice of paper and dip your finger in that.

01-31-2006, 12:51 AM
I'm using some Great American pearlescents in my current project. (This is the first time I've tried to upload images, so if they come out funny, or not at all, I apologize in advance.)


The photo doesn't show it as clearly as I'd like because of the funky reflections, but I've used some of the earthtones for highlights on the hills, Tuscany and Sunburst, I think. Here is a closeup.


And, as an experiment, I used a pearlescent blue as a base layer for my water, to see if it gave it any more "life", but I've feathered and blended a few other colors over it, so I don't know if it helped much. Maybe a bit in the middle distance, but not so much in the foreground. I'm still working on that part, but here is a closeup.


I have tried Sennelier pearlescents in the past, and I found the two I tried to be much less smooth than the GAs.


01-31-2006, 01:06 AM
RJ, I love the painting so much. I like the pearlescent touch. I was lucky in the set I ordered had 6 of those included and I've been experimenting with them and really like them.

01-31-2006, 02:48 AM
Thank You! It's from a photo my husband took when we were driving around Big Sur, just a perfect day in late summer. I fell in love with the turquoise shallows and the soft glow from the grassy areas on the hills. I figured the extra shimmer from the pearlescents was just what it needed.


01-31-2006, 07:29 PM
RJ, Thanks for posting the painting...very nice. It's interesting that you used a pealescent as an undertone, I'll have to keep that in mind when trying them out.

01-31-2006, 07:30 PM
Diane, You're right about the Van Gogh being more hard than soft. Thanks for the suggestion to scrape some off and then using brush or finger to apply.

01-31-2006, 08:39 PM
I know. I remember picking them up on a lark and thought it'd be fun to play with and experiment. Wow. I couldn't believe how rock hard they were. Couldn't get anything out of them much because of the hardness.
Didn't use pearls again until some came with the GA set and was pleasantly surprised.

02-01-2006, 02:22 AM
I have been working with Pearlescents for over ten years and have developed several methods of working with them -- incorporating them throughout the painting -- not just for highlights, as has been the case.

The primary reason I use them in this way is that they function as a medium/lubricant for the pigments in a way that is similar to oil when painting in oils. My paintings use many layers of soft pastel and painting into a base of properly applied Pearlescent makes further layering, blending and integration truly a pleasure and gives wonderful effects. When I paint with oils I use Maroger which is valued for its ability to keep subsequent layers luminescent. This method with Pearlescent can provide a similar lusciousness. I have used all of the pearlized products over the years and prefer Great American. ,Among other things, GA offers consistency across the various colors unlike the others. Some of the other products have inconsistencies across colors -- in texture, in the integrity of the stick (they fall apart when you least expect it), in soft vs hard (as dLake said) , in the amount of 'pearl' in each color, etc.

I don't know which painting you folks saw in a magazine with a high percent of Pearlescent Pastel. If it was the Chicago skyline, it was mine. It is the image that is currently on the Boxtop of the GA Pearlescent Pastels. It was not airbrushed. The amount of pastel that is not Pearlescent is minimal -- only for accent, a true role reversal for the use of the Pearlescents. The entire painting virtually glows. When lit properly the effect is stunning. It is not jarring, glittery, or 'Carny'. And, yes, there are ways to get and maximize that effect. I do Workshops to demonstrate and share the method. In fact, if anyone is interested in learning, GA is sponsoring one such workshop in the South of France in August '06. Though folks will be working in any medium they like and a second emphasis of that workshop will be on mentoring, I will be helping people learn to use Pearlescents in this way. Another common reaction people have to these painted images is that they look like oils.

It is true that photographing this effect is difficult. It is best if the entire surface is covered (as is the case with "Morning Glory" the painting of the Chicago skyline) because then there is a consistency in the image. To use the Pearlescent in any one aspect of the painting will reproduce that one area quite differently from the rest. Let's face it, the whole point of a Pearlescent is that it reflects light differently -- and more! So, if true reproduction is the goal, consistency across the surface will increase this outcome. However, that having been said, no photograph can capture the shimmer/glow of the actual painting.

02-01-2006, 02:26 AM
p.s. to the last post -- a polarizer on the camera lens will help minimize the reproduction/photo problem.

02-02-2006, 08:10 PM
DrPetunia, It was very interesting reading your post. This weekend I plan to work with the few pearlescents I have. I should probably get some of the GA ones also, since most people who have used them like them.

Tracy Lang
02-02-2006, 10:38 PM
Thank you for that info! Excuse the newbie ?, but do the pearlescents only come in the metallic colors?


02-02-2006, 11:48 PM
No. There are different types. There are metallics, irridescent, and pearls. the pearls are the softest. Check out senniler, Great american Artworks and if ;you go to the open stock at Dakota Pastels you can get some lovely Schmincke pearls
And no need to be shy. Newbie, just jump in. No apology. hahaha

02-12-2006, 01:50 PM
Hi Folks! Just a note re: the pearlescent, irridescent, metallic topic. The pearlescent is essentially irridescent. Seems to depend on the ingredients used. For instance, GA pearlescent collection includes some which could be thought of as metallic in their appearance (Silver, Ferrum (no longer made) and Black Morpho (replacement for Ferrum) and Gold) though they don't use a metal ingredient -- so they are 'pearlescent'. These distinctions apply across manufacturers. For our purposes it's where the rubber meets the road -- how does it look and how does it go down. GA's Silver is a little miracle. It can be made to blend across a large area, imbuing it with an actual micro 'glitter' under light. It is neutral enough in value to work/blend under, in and across almost any other color. I have found wonderful ways of using it in my "Silver Screen" collection portraits.

Dr. P

02-12-2006, 05:49 PM
Dr P, I must see your silver screen portraits. Nice to have someone who does things like me!!!
I just got a couple of the Schmincke pearls. Very nice. Good color and highlight. Similar to the GAs. They have a yellow and clear green I needed and I'm glad I got them. They only come in open stock