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View Full Version : Doing Pastel Commissions with Student Grade Material.. Is that OK?


GhettoDaveyHavok
11-19-2009, 04:05 PM
OK, I was wondering, even though I feel COMPLETELY stupid to ask this (especially everyone is wondering why the heck I'm lurking here), but I have a friend who does pastel portrait commissions. She only had student grade pastels (Pro Art pastel chalk, and I believe Alphacolor) and she works with them for commissions.

I been told to use professional grade stuff (same thing with the oil pastels) and I told my friend as well (but she can't afford them). However, I did recently purchase Rembrandt pastels and said she can borrow them if a commission is to be done (I recentely opened up for color pastel portraits when I got this set last week as well). But really, I am willing to let ehr use my Rembrandts the black, white, and gray tones of my Sennelier pastels (I LOVE the buttery feel to those. Never felt something that nice to pastels in my life).

Even if she can't afford them, is it still OK if she still uses the student grades for commissions anyway? Or is that a bad idea because some pigments can fade a bit sooner than we want them to?

It's because I told her that professional quality things should be used and not student grades when it came to commissions, but I hope I wasn't being wrong or anything like that. For some reason, I just don't have faith in her pastels because of this whole "professional vs. student" quality thing (such as fading sooner than a client wants the portrait to).

Note: She and I live in Southern California in a desert valley.

Sorry for so much rambling.

Colorix
11-19-2009, 05:47 PM
Crystal, it sounds like you know perfectly well that you're right, but you want backing up. Very generous of you to lend her your Rembs!

Of course only the lightfast brands are used for a commission! Most of us even toss away a favourite colour if it isn't lightfast. Actually, it is like this: She cannot afford to not use a lightfast pro brand for commissions. Five years from now, does she want the 'reputation' of "don't buy anything from her, it looks great, but all the colours disappear"?

The other solution is to charge accordingly to inferior materials used, and to be straight with the customers and say "this won't last long".

Always, always be honest in business.

Good luck convincing her.

Charlie

GhettoDaveyHavok
11-19-2009, 06:24 PM
Charlie, thank you so much for responding! I really needed reassurance and to make sure I was correct (since, I barely heard about lightfastness and quality a year ago on the oil pastel forum).

Well, she's not resisting on using professional grades. I told her about it and she wishes she had some Rembrandts at least since I told her about quality (and I'm the least serious soft pastel painter compared to her and even I got a set of Rembrandts and a couple Senneliers, but I have to thank mommy and daddy for the money). But yet, she might use my set when she gets another one (I hope she does). I told her that if she gets another commission, ask me to use the set, get the money when done, and then she can use that cash for the pastels she needs+ a few groceries, depending on how much pastels she fees she needs :lol: (It's a joke on how expensive they are).

The portraits she does are 18x24" on Strathmore drawing paper (strathmore is suppose to be good. We all know that. Yet, I heard of papers that are especially made for pastels so I am not sure, even if the paper is acid-free) and she charges $125 each (plus about $25 for an additional person). That's not too much for art, but I just am not sure about the pastel quality when it comes to pricing. Sorry to ask something else, but is that too much for those pastels or is that fine enough?

As for the honesty thing, she doesn't tell her clients. Yet, I whenever I talk to her about quality, I never like to speak it in front of people because I was always afraid of anyone being discouraged to buy her portraits. Plus, I wasn't sure if it was a good idea or not to tell clients, but I guess I'll have to go with you on that one. Especially with the reputation thing. That's a scary thought.

sketchZ1ol
11-20-2009, 08:22 AM
hello Crystal. Sounds like you're being a good friend. Do the two of you have painting sessions together? That'd be a chance to share materials and papers/surfaces ( if it's okay) and learn about them. I agree with Charlie that it's best to be honest in business. How your friend handles that is up to her, and to say something about 'student' grade in front of people might make You look bad, or less than a friend.
As far as fading, the makers of pastels all say that some colours may change if exposed to direct sunlight for a long period of time, and some have colour charts which rate the degree of 'lightfast'.
I occasionally use Alphas as a base or starting colour on paper and usually rub them with a cotton ball or packing peanut to cover big areas, then spray with a fixative ( outside, please!). I stay away from yellow and the light tints of pink, green, or blue.
Hope that's useful, and something to share with your friend. :) E

MJGresko
11-20-2009, 09:56 PM
Tell her to go on ebay. They always have Rembrandts on there. I've picked up several sets of different pastels on there for good prices.

DAK723
11-20-2009, 11:22 PM
While I agree in principle that one should use artist grade materials, the line between student and artist grade is not always that clear. While one certainly doesn't want to use the cheapest supplies, some student grade materials may be using the same pigments (and therefore the same lightfastness?) as artist quality materials. (I know this is true of some oil paint brands, but I have no idea about pastel brands).

On the Dick Blick site, for example, Yarka pastels are listed as student grade, but when I bought some about 15 years ago they were considered a lower price artist grade. Nupastels are priced more in the student grade range (and have some known lightfastness problems in some of the colors) but are used by many professional artists for their portraits. When I was a student, 30 years ago, we thought of them as student grade! But they were considered on the high end of the student grade range!

And I would say that your friend shouldn't start panicking, as, in my experience, some of the cheaper pastels should still last a good long time. Although people have widely varying results in their own experiences, I used alphacolors all through college and had some of my figure paintings hanging on the wall for 4 or 5 years with no noticeable fading. And they were not under glass. They still look good today, although they have been in a closet or portfolio for the past 25 years, and therefore not exposed to light. Your friend, at the very least, should make sure that she tells her customers to frame them under UV glass and hang them where there is no direct sunlight.

Don

sketchZ1ol
11-21-2009, 10:39 AM
hello. I need to make a correction. I said, "...the makers of pastels all say that some colours may change if exposed to direct sunlight..."
After looking into several makers websites, I find that some makers have info/reference about 'lightfastness' and some do not. Royal Talens goes into great detail about this subject.
My apology to any manufacturer, any associates, and to WC.:( E

sketchZ1ol
11-21-2009, 04:22 PM
hello.Further browsing. ArtSpectrum presents a lightfastness scale for their pastels. :) E

Colorix
11-21-2009, 05:24 PM
Schmincke does too!

DAK723
11-21-2009, 08:50 PM
Here are the lightfastness charts for Art Spectrum, Winsor and Newton, Daler-Rowney, Rembrandt, Schminke:

http://www.artspectrum.com.au/soft_pastles.html

http://www.winsornewton.com/main.aspx?PageID=311

http://www.daler-rowney.com/sites/daler-rowney.com/files/webform/pdf/Soft%20Pastels%201%20Chart.pdf

http://www.talens.com/uploads/products/%7B5D5D335C-246C-4589-96C1-F60D6DD224A1%7D_C_GBR.pdf

http://www.schmincke.de/fileadmin/downloads/Farbkarte_Pastell_D_GB_F_I_E.pdf


Don

Natalie29
11-24-2009, 12:11 PM
I agree in that Artist Quality should be used for when doing commissions too. I know of a company who sells Rembrandt pastels and they sell overseas, all over the world and this company I know of have had many orders come from California, LA, Greece and many oher places! www.iartsupplies.co.uk (http://www.iartsupplies.co.uk) are a sole trader for Talens products and I have purchased from them myself and highly recommend to you, seeing as you are using a Rembrandt set yourself Crystal and, read that you have recommended to your friend. Shipment is excellent and quick too from this link! Hope this helps you out!http://www.talens.com/english/brands/rembrandt/default.asp?subID=5&mc=001 is the link to all rembrandt pastels, just looked it up for you

natalie

GhettoDaveyHavok
12-05-2009, 09:43 PM
Holy smokes, I wish I can reply sooner.

E, it's OK. We know to spray fixative while outside of the house. :lol: Mmmmmm spray fumes! xD No, we don't have sessions together. We're friends who met in art club at high school and been friends for about 4 or 5 years now. :P

Don, I didn't really know much about UV frames and stuff. They actually make those? If so, I want some for my pastel portraits. I live in a sunny state. :lol: I think she has one pastel portrait up in ehr room since she was about 16. I think it's still good, even though barely any light coes in. It's a Michael Jackson portrait. Looks awesome and I don't even know if any colors changed yet. I guess as long as her rooms not lit up too much. Oh well. I got blinds. I did hear about the Nupastels having some problems as well. That's why I don't really wanna go near them unless I want to do art for myself. Then who gives a damn since it's only for me. Also, thanks for the lightfastness ratings!

I actually looked in the Rembrandt ratings when I got my portrait set a month ago. I actually was bored enough to look in it and it tells me what the +'s meant (Yay for boredom). My friend's boss looked at my set and looked on Ebay for some sets (oh my god, really good prices). I even let her try out the Rembrandts and the Sennelier gray tones and the rest of ehr other pastels when she didn't have my box around on her recent pastel portrait of Bill Kaulitz from Tokio Hotel. She actually enjoyed using them, and also having a little more variety for skin tone. :lol:

Oh my. I jabbered too much.

Thanks for commenting everyone! Thanks for that link as well, Natalie!

SunFace
12-06-2009, 01:04 AM
I personally do not own many expensive ones. I do have some Smellier and I love them.

But as a student doing a lot of guess work and just painting for learning I have used a lot of the daler-rowney soft pastels. And I personally love them! They make a great first coat, and then I always finished them with my more expensive brand.

I am dying to buy some Rembrandts, and I will be looking for them on EBay!

robertsloan2
12-06-2009, 10:30 PM
Yarka really is artist grade. Blick explained after I bought mine when they were listed as artist grade that they had so many complaints from American artists over the muted palette that they downgraded it to student grade. Blue is the only hue that has full intensity brights in it. The rest of the spectrum is either tinted or muted.

It has a nice palette, just not a complete palette. I'd really recommend it for portraits, with a few Rembrandt or Art Spectrum sticks added in whatever colors you need with the ones that come in it. Depending on taste you could use Yarka without anything else.

Another thing about getting artist grade pastels cheap. Ebay rocks. So does WetCanvas if you keep checking the swap shop forums. It seems like for any medium there's always someone who bought some good top of the line supplies, tried it and then didn't like it for some reason. I just got a wonderful assortment of Oil Sticks a couple of months ago right here.

Other way to get artist grade supplies super cheap is to constantly check Clearance at art stores and at online art supply places like Blick or Jerry's or ASW. I had my eye on a set of Art Spectrum that's on Clearance, they might be out of it or not.

Yep, they still have it, the 60 Pure Tones set of Art Spectrum with 49 single pigment colors and 11 light and dark shades for $84.99 -- this is a pretty extreme discount. But it'd be a lot of money compared to an Alphacolor set I suppose. That's about two dollars more than the 30 color Portrait or Landscape full stick sets. Retails for $279.

That's insane. But that's pretty much how I wind up with good artist grade supplies is watching for stuff like that.

Uh oh. I can see a resolution breaking...

SunFace
12-07-2009, 01:32 PM
Yarka really is artist grade. Blick explained after I bought mine when they were listed as artist grade that they had so many complaints from American artists over the muted palette that they downgraded it to student grade. Blue is the only hue that has full intensity brights in it. The rest of the spectrum is either tinted or muted.

It has a nice palette, just not a complete palette. I'd really recommend it for portraits, with a few Rembrandt or Art Spectrum sticks added in whatever colors you need with the ones that come in it. Depending on taste you could use Yarka without anything else.

Another thing about getting artist grade pastels cheap. Ebay rocks. So does WetCanvas if you keep checking the swap shop forums. It seems like for any medium there's always someone who bought some good top of the line supplies, tried it and then didn't like it for some reason. I just got a wonderful assortment of Oil Sticks a couple of months ago right here.

Other way to get artist grade supplies super cheap is to constantly check Clearance at art stores and at online art supply places like Blick or Jerry's or ASW. I had my eye on a set of Art Spectrum that's on Clearance, they might be out of it or not.

Yep, they still have it, the 60 Pure Tones set of Art Spectrum with 49 single pigment colors and 11 light and dark shades for $84.99 -- this is a pretty extreme discount. But it'd be a lot of money compared to an Alphacolor set I suppose. That's about two dollars more than the 30 color Portrait or Landscape full stick sets. Retails for $279.

That's insane. But that's pretty much how I wind up with good artist grade supplies is watching for stuff like that.

Uh oh. I can see a resolution breaking...

These are great tips Robert! Thank you so much! I did not know there was a swap here!

PeggyB
12-07-2009, 05:46 PM
The easiest way to test the lightfastness of pastels you already own is to set test them yourself. Each region of the world has a somewhat different amount of harmful uv sunlight falling upon it so testing in your area is a good idea. Besides natural sunlight though, regular indoor lighting may be harmful and is something we frequently fail to remember. Sunlight is stronger and faster acting, but artificial lighting is also harmful.

You should also test the lightfastness of the paper you use. Unless Strathmore had changed in the last few years, it is not a lightfast product. I own a lovely pastel drawing on Strathmore paper I bought from a pastel friend many years ago. Since it is a drawing, a lot of the paper was left natural. Upon purchase, I wanted to reframe it, and even in the short amount of time it had hung in a gallery with only artifical lighting, I could easily see where the color of the paper was lighter than that which had been under a mat. Now it hangs in a seldom lighted hallway.

To test your pastels, heavily stroke each color on a piece of white pastel paper in a long vertical line about 2 inches wide and say 6 or 8 inches long. Cover half of the line with paper and weight it with a book heavy enough to prevent sunlight from sneaking under it - or a piece of felt which is heavy enough not to curl in the sun. Leave this in full sunlight for about 6 - 8 weeks without disturbing it (yes, I know it will be tempting to look, but don't do it.) This shouldn't be difficult to do this time of year in your sunny southern California desert area. You may be surprised at just how many of your pastels fade. there are some pigments that no matter the brand of pastel, oil, or watercolor are always fugitive (not lightfast).

To answer your original question, well I think Charlie gave good advise so I need say no more.

UV "framing" refers to the glass that is used in the frame, not a frame itself. UV, or "museum" framing is considerably more expensive then regular glass so if your friend can't afford professional quality pastels I doubt this is something she can consider. Not even all pros use UV or museum glass.

Peggy

PeggyB
12-07-2009, 05:51 PM
somehow this posted twice. the site seems to be running very slowly at the moment.
P

robertsloan2
12-07-2009, 06:32 PM
I've had that problem occasionally with posts too, Peggy. It gets frustrating, especially when I don't know if it's the site or my erratic access. I'm right at the edge of the wifi area within the house so depending on weather, my access drifts in or out. I usually have to copy my post, then back up and refresh to see whether it went through or not.

SunFace, yeah, it surprised me how much good stuff winds up in The Swap Shop! http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=83

Someone got it already but there was a thread for someone giving away some nice student supplies for cost of postage to a student. I should consider doing something like that with some of my student grade supplies as I upgrade them, though I've done it more offline than online. I wind up meeting someone who's interested and then look at what I've outgrown and kit them up.

One thing I definitely won't be letting go of is the Sennelier half sticks box. That is a great bargain in itself and very handy. The small 20 color half stick set isn't too bad at Blick either. at $27.95 -- it's a good range and would be enough to do some commissions to afford a bigger set. Rembrandt's got a less expensive half stick set too.

I found in general that the half stick sets are a good bargain for getting some color range. Sennelier's half sticks are very fat, I almost think they're more like 2/3 the volume of a normal Sennelier stick than half. Very chunky and easy to handle. In general pastels are cheaper in sets than open stock, and half stick sets let you get more colors for the same money.

I used to worry about half stick sets running out faster. The thing is, with those if you don't like a color or use it in large areas, then you never have to replace it. But you find out fast what colors you need to get more of with half stick sets. They're very cool that way.

GhettoDaveyHavok
12-09-2009, 01:20 AM
Really? Though, I hardly post on WC, but I haven't had no posting problems on this site.

Peggy, lightfast testing is so fun actually. I've done that with some of my student grade oil pastels. It's actually cool to see your pastels turn into fading colors. As for UV glass... I never really heard of it until eveyrone on Wetcanvas mentions them. And yeah, I imagine them to put a big whomin' hole into the wallet.

Robert, I looked up the Yarkas.... They look freakin' beautiful and a heck lot cheaper than Rembrandt! Me want some! My goodness!

However, sometime ago on blick (when I purchased my Sennelier soft pastels months ago), I saw the Reeves student grade thing. It's because one time I looked at a package of them in the high school art class and so I decided to check them out. They say they have lightfastness to resist fading... And they're super cheap... See, I'm trying to be extremely cheap here. :lol; Problem is though that they don't have a big assortment of colors. Also, from the pictures, some of those sticks look like crap.

But damn, I still am in love with my Sennelier gray tones, black, and white. I just hope to have money for colors sometime... And oh my god, the portrait set looks so nice... I want some sticks... When I get money sent to me, I am going to go for those half sticks... Maybe a 40 set....... I just love the buttery softness.... *le sigh* I just feel the need for lots of colors. I'm too paranoid to use EBay though...

robertsloan2
12-09-2009, 01:32 AM
I'm glad you like the Yarkas. They are one of the great bargains available and I still love my set. Sennelier half stick sets are a good bargain too. One thing I lked in the Sennelier set is the thick foam padding with its slots, they're very easy to keep safe in that sturdy box.

Reeves brand is from Winsor & Newton, their scholastic brand. Very good for student supplies but not as pigment rich as artist grade stuff, which Yarkas are.

I would say the combination of a Yarka set and a Sennelier half stick set would work great because the bright reds and yellows that aren't in the yarka set are also not colors that would usually need to cover large areas, unless you like doing red roses to fill the entire surface of a giant painting and do a series of those. In which case it's good to just get extra sticks after you find out which colors you use up fastest.

Half stick sets are great for getting more colors for less money anyway.

Donna A
12-10-2009, 02:32 AM
Yarka really is artist grade. Blick explained after I bought mine when they were listed as artist grade that they had so many complaints from American artists over the muted palette that they downgraded it to student grade. Blue is the only hue that has full intensity brights in it. The rest of the spectrum is either tinted or muted.


Hi, Robert! The Yarkas, made in Russia, do have some real fading problems with many of the colors. I bought a full set years ago when Jack Richeson first bought the company and began selling them in the US. I understand that the ultramarine blue acutally uses some pure lapis lazuli in it since in Russia it was so cheap and pleniful---so that is most likely why that color is not fading. But many of the others do! Jack bought the company back when things were extra rough in Russia and they were making things very cheaply! I haven't used mine in years. Well, never did use them much at all! And ages ago, before they got pulled off the shelves at Artisans in Santa Fe, I saw them lying in their shelving areas---and pointed out to the staff that many of the colors laying on the top of the stacks had faded. Many of the colors don't fade, but I'd check out which is which for many months first before using any of them---except for the ultramarine blues! Best wishes!!! Donna ;-}

PS--AlphaColors are student grade! Not a great choice! D ;-}


It has a nice palette, just not a complete palette. I'd really recommend it for portraits, with a few Rembrandt or Art Spectrum sticks added in whatever colors you need with the ones that come in it. Depending on taste you could use Yarka without anything else.

Another thing about getting artist grade pastels cheap. Ebay rocks. So does WetCanvas if you keep checking the swap shop forums. It seems like for any medium there's always someone who bought some good top of the line supplies, tried it and then didn't like it for some reason. I just got a wonderful assortment of Oil Sticks a couple of months ago right here.

Other way to get artist grade supplies super cheap is to constantly check Clearance at art stores and at online art supply places like Blick or Jerry's or ASW. I had my eye on a set of Art Spectrum that's on Clearance, they might be out of it or not.

Yep, they still have it, the 60 Pure Tones set of Art Spectrum with 49 single pigment colors and 11 light and dark shades for $84.99 -- this is a pretty extreme discount. But it'd be a lot of money compared to an Alphacolor set I suppose. That's about two dollars more than the 30 color Portrait or Landscape full stick sets. Retails for $279.

That's insane. But that's pretty much how I wind up with good artist grade supplies is watching for stuff like that.

Uh oh. I can see a resolution breaking...

robertsloan2
12-10-2009, 03:14 AM
Hi, Robert! The Yarkas, made in Russia, do have some real fading problems with many of the colors. I bought a full set years ago when Jack Richeson first bought the company and began selling them in the US. I understand that the ultramarine blue acutally uses some pure lapis lazuli in it since in Russia it was so cheap and pleniful---so that is most likely why that color is not fading. But many of the others do! Jack bought the company back when things were extra rough in Russia and they were making things very cheaply! I haven't used mine in years. Well, never did use them much at all! And ages ago, before they got pulled off the shelves at Artisans in Santa Fe, I saw them lying in their shelving areas---and pointed out to the staff that many of the colors laying on the top of the stacks had faded. Many of the colors don't fade, but I'd check out which is which for many months first before using any of them---except for the ultramarine blues! Best wishes!!! Donna ;-}

PS--AlphaColors are student grade! Not a great choice! D ;-}

Agree -- Alphacolor is student grade and one of the worst student grades. They had a terrible texture, were very dusty and not very pigment rich. I had better results with Loew Cornell for decent student grade.

Thanks for telling me that about the Yarkas! I have the big set, bought it when it was listed artist grade. I'm now going to have to do a home lightfastness test on it and identify all the fading colors, so I can strip the set down to the ones that don't fade. Though I can still stain and varnish the nice wood box and reuse it to hold assorted others, Rembrandts, Art Spectrums, anything with that general texture.

It's a nice box and I'm glad the ultramarine blues are real. It makes sense that it was a cheap local deposit. I hope some of the good earth tones that I like come up lightfast too.

I'm remembering how on the Holbein oil pastels, some colors are lightfast in mass tone but not lightfast once white is added to make a tint. So I really need to test every single stick in order to sort them. I'll probably still use the ones that are good and put the rest into a different box.

I saw something cool in an ad for Blick's student pastels -- a street painter who uses them to do giant ephemeral paintings on pavements. Now that is a valid use for any decent student brand. Lightfastness isn't an issue if the art's going to wash away in the next street cleaning or rain, whichever comes first, and the photos and people seeing the event are the permanent record.

For that, you'd want a big range of very cheap strong color student grade ones, which Blick does fit the bill and so does Loew Cornell. It's something I did once in New Orleans at the invitation of a gallery -- me and a dozen other artists were invited to bring pastels and just paint on the sidewalk leading up to the gallery, we did about a block of improvised cool sketches. I used up as many of my Alphacolors as I could on that one because it was something I could use them for.