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View Full Version : super-soft pastels and plein air


rorschah
07-22-2008, 08:26 PM
After some of the other threads, I decided, too, to pull my pastels out of their precious foam inserts and throw them all into a box together, arranged by temperature and value.

But question: for you plein air folks, do you put *everything* in a box? Do the really soft pastels (Sennelier, Great American) survive being on their own? I've been carting around my Rembrandts in a cigar box, and they survive fine, but I'm a little afraid to put the super-softies in with the rest.

-thi

Donna T
07-22-2008, 08:47 PM
Hi thi, I have some Great Americans and Senneliers in my plein air box and so far they are surviving. I have them padded from above and below so that nothing moves when I shake the box. Mostly though, I don't use the super-softies for plein air because I just can't control those buttery strokes. I prefer to build layers with the harder pastels but do use the soft ones for highlights. I break all my pastels into thirds so I can use them on their sides and fit more into my box.

Donna

Studio-1-F
07-23-2008, 03:15 PM
Mostly though, I don't use the super-softies for plein air because I just can't control those buttery strokes.
Hi, Donna! Could you expand on this a little bit, please? Thanks!

Jan

HarvestMoon
07-23-2008, 06:04 PM
I have had Great Americans in boxes and carried them around all over the place, had the cases knocked about onto the cement (closed), etc. and they were great.....but then I have a nice Heilman case.....the Sellies though I can just pick UP to try to use them and they crumble....and crumble in transport no matter what...I would never buy them again (Sellinier) no matter what....

Tressa
07-23-2008, 06:09 PM
Jan, the super softies are like butter, and if you have a heavy hand, it can be tricky..I always tell my students to think of gliding a feather softly along the surface. I use softies alot, but some people find they like the harder sticks for their workhorse and the softies as finishers!
Tres

Studio-1-F
07-23-2008, 09:06 PM
Jan, the super softies are like butter, and if you have a heavy hand, it can be tricky..I always tell my students to think of gliding a feather softly along the surface. I use softies alot, but some people find they like the harder sticks for their workhorse and the softies as finishers!
Tres
Thanks for the clarification, Tressa! I had read Donna's note as saying that the super-soft pastels behaved differently outdoors. That they were harder to control outdoors. Whew! I see now that you're saying they are just harder to control, period! Clear!

Anyway, I see we're nearby. Do you have any pastel workshops planned for this autumn?

Jan

Donna T
07-24-2008, 08:39 AM
Hi Jan, Sorry I missed your question but Tressa explained it perfectly. The softies are nice but sometimes they can go on a little heavy, indoors or out, at least for me. Things like fine tree branches, stems, or details on architecture can be obliterated by the soft pastels while you have a little more control with the harder ones. Still, it's nice to have a variety so I hope you can try out several kinds of pastels for your plein air work.

Donna

Studio-1-F
07-24-2008, 10:02 AM
... Still, it's nice to have a variety so I hope you can try out several kinds of pastels for your plein air work. Donna
Thank you again. I am very new to pastels -- they are a riot!!! -- and I would NOT have been surprised if there was something odd about how they behaved outdoors. They are so mysterious and so opulent!

I have a fairly big set of Polychromos and am having a great time messing with them and getting all enthralled with the colors. That is UNTIL I pick up a stick from my much smaller pile of Sennelier/Unisons and put down a mark with one of those messy babies. Ohhhhh, how much more lush than the Polys! Arrrrrggggh.

When you say you use the softies out in the field for highlights, does that mean that you pack along only a selection of very light softies? Makes sense!

Jan

Donna T
07-24-2008, 11:03 AM
Jan, I am jealous of your large set of Polychromos! I love them and they are so useful. My softies for the highlights are mostly in the warm colors - real pale yellows, creams and peaches. They are perfect for adding touches of sunlight on top of all the other layers of pastel. Sometimes the harder pastels actually remove previous layers so those soft ones are very handy. I also have a few pale blues, lavenders and greens. Good for the lightest lights on clouds, white flowers in shade, that kind of thing. All of these lights can be used instead of pure white, which I never once used for plein air so I just took it out of my box. Space is precious! I hardly ever use the dark softies because I tend to build up layers and try not to fill the tooth of the paper too quickly. I don't think I'm necessarily heavy-handed, I just prefer more layers and sometimes I like to let the underpainting show through and the softer pastels tend to cover it up. This is just what works for me and I'm still learning so try everything and see what you prefer. Oh, and remember, have fun learning and don't worry at all about the outcome. :)

Donna

Studio-1-F
07-24-2008, 05:50 PM
. . . . Sometimes the harder pastels actually remove previous layers so those soft ones are very handy. When this happens in the field, but you still want to add another layer of the hard pastels, do you stop and spray it with fixative? Or just switch to the softies?

Oh, and remember, have fun learning and don't worry at all about the outcome. :) Donna
This is excellent advice. I never do worry! I just try to relax and enjoy myself. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got from an "art teacher" was to concentrate on the process and not on the product. It resonated completely.

Thanks!!

Jan

Donna T
07-24-2008, 06:11 PM
Jan, I never bring fixative with me as I hardly ever use it. If I need to add a layer and there's no more tooth to the paper I either switch to a soft one, if I have it, or mostly likely brush off an area and re-do it. Too much layering and mixing can make mud so I always try to make a mental note of which areas need to be saved for highlights so I don't overdo it.

Donna