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View Full Version : Pastel Light Sets & Sticks - Any Recommendations


timonsloane
08-17-2010, 09:26 PM
I've been shifting to a higher value range (working lighter) after incorporating some critique feedback from Richard McKinley last spring, and I'm wondering if I shouldn't augment my pastel pallet with some more lights.

Richard mentioned the Art Spectrum Light set (6 cools and 6 warms). I think he said they are softer than the typical art spectrums (and they are listed as 'extra soft') - can anyone confirm what they might be comparable to?

I'm also looking at the Ludwig light set. It has 30 sticks, which I think might be overkill.

Any experiences to share or recommendations? If I were to sum it up I'm looking for high chroma in highly tinted sticks. I don't really care how hard they are (I'll use anything). Any favorite sticks?

Anne-Marie
08-17-2010, 09:45 PM
Unison has a set of 18 lights, which I thought was overkill. From open stock, I selected a tint of several hues: a pinkish one (LT6); a cool yellow one (LT2); a warm yellow one (LT4); a mint-colored one(LT15); a bluish one (LT14); a purplish one (LT13); and a orchid-colored one (LT10). I found the rest to be repetitive, but I bought them for a specific project and it was before I was actually doing a lot of pastel painting (what I did was I made "paint chips" out of them for a design board).

Since I've been actually painting, I find that the lights I like best are those that have come in other sets--not a "light set" per se. i.e. I really like Unison Grey 26 and to a lesser extent BE 1 and YGE 13 from my little Unison 18-piece landscape set. I find that these colors are much less harsh and obvious than the "lights" mentioned above. I am also absolutely in LOVE with the lights that came with my Maggie Price set. I posted both pix and the overlay with the pastel numbers on the Salmagundi thread, if you are interested. Specifically, I like V055 and Y080. I've found them to be super useful.

For me, I am not in a place to buy an entire set of lights. I have so few pastels and there are so many others that I would like to buy first! If I were shopping for lights, I would get a few from open stock out of the Ludwig line.

Hope this helps--

robertsloan2
08-17-2010, 11:04 PM
I've got the Art Spectrum lights because six of them came in my old style 60 Pure Tones set - they added more pigments so had to redo it so my set went on Clearance. It was filled out with some Deep Darks and half a dozen Extra Lights. They are nice and soft, softer than the rest of the Art Spectrum sticks.

They're incredibly convenient. They also come in a set of six, actually a choice of two sets of six but I think both are somewhat spaced around the spectrum. If you look on Blick you can choose which one has the combination of tints you want most - which means not having to buy 18 or 30 tints to get half a dozen useful ones.

I use them a lot more than I thought I would. They create mid-tints easily combined with pure tones, something that helps every time I use the AS set. They're distinct in themselves and yet I haven't used white much at all since I got them, they have much more character than pure white in light accents and highlights. Also if I do need a pure white, it stands out as even lighter.

So I guess I agree with Richard McKinley on how useful they are, both as themselves and mixed with other sticks. It's not as big an investment as some of the other lights sets too.

Potoma
08-18-2010, 12:05 AM
I got most of the AS lights over the winter - got them open stock from Jerry's. I like them very much and recommend them highly.

saramathewson
08-18-2010, 11:15 AM
I have the TL light set and love it! i have used probably 85% of them. I haven't tried the art spectrum extra soft lights but have heard good things about them.

Sara

westcoast_Mike
08-18-2010, 11:22 AM
I have the Unison set and like it. I also have a few additional light colors from another Unison set I bought. I find myself reaching for them more than the other sticks in my box when I need a light.

chuas2
08-18-2010, 03:52 PM
Timon,
I have the set of 30 Ludwig "True Lights" but it's not my favorite purchase. Not because of anything wrong with the pastels...they are beautiful, bright, luminous variations of white. Rather, I had the wrong expectations for how I would use them, and how much I would use them. So I use them very rarely and sparingly when I do.

I would still recommend the Ludwigs, but suggest hand picking about 8 - 10. For starters anyway.
Chuas

robertsloan2
08-18-2010, 04:16 PM
I checked on the Art Spectrum six packs. "Warm Tints" has the full spectrum: Warm Tints, Set of 6 Includes Extra Soft colors: Ultramarine Blue 526XSP, Coral 507XSP, Yellow Green 572XSP, Flinders Red Violet 517XSP, Warm White 501XSP, and Spectrum Orange 506XSP.

The Cool Tints set with it adds Flinders Blue Violet 520XSP, Lemon Yellow 502XSP, Cool White 500XSP, Cool Gray 582XSP, Phthalo Blue 530XSP, and Phthalo Green 570XSP. They're also handy but if you wanted to get only half a dozen, the Warm Tints would give you enough to get all the highlights you needed.

They do show a bit more color than they do in the photos at Blick, the ones in my set are very obviously light tints, more distinct from each other.

Potoma
08-18-2010, 08:50 PM
Robert, I use the AS sticks so sparingly that they are probably the only pastels in my arsenal that I keep wrapped and use whole. Further, I really like being able to read the label, as the colors can be confusing to my eyes. Regardless, they were a great purchase.

Anne-Marie
08-18-2010, 11:05 PM
It's interesting: I actually haven't checked out Art Spectrum at all--like, not a single time have I looked at their colors on fineartstore.com or Blick or Dakota--because when I got the "pastel sampler" from Dakota at the beginning of June and tried out AS, I did not like it at all. I found it extremely hard and scratchy and disagreeable to work with, finishing, by far, last in the 17 brands that were included. But wow, those colors are really interesting, and I like the 6-sets--very useful for plugging holes in colors. Maybe one of these days I slip one into a Blick order and check them out . . .

allydoodle
08-19-2010, 01:16 AM
It's interesting: I actually haven't checked out Art Spectrum at all--like, not a single time have I looked at their colors on fineartstore.com or Blick or Dakota--because when I got the "pastel sampler" from Dakota at the beginning of June and tried out AS, I did not like it at all. I found it extremely hard and scratchy and disagreeable to work with, finishing, by far, last in the 17 brands that were included. But wow, those colors are really interesting, and I like the 6-sets--very useful for plugging holes in colors. Maybe one of these days I slip one into a Blick order and check them out . . .

I just discovered this brand of pastels about 9 months ago. There was a special at ASW fpr a 60 piece set of pure tones, (I think Robert spoke about them, and he has them too). I was pleasantly surprised, their consistency is quite nice, and the colors are very unique. I found I really didn't get any 'duplicates', that is, similar colors that were in other brands. Maybe the sample you got was a red? Sometimes reds can be a little scratchy, although I did not find any of the reds in this set to be scratchy at all. I definitely wouldn't judge the brand by just one stick, especially this brand. They are pretty top notch, IMHO. I use them all the time. Of course, they're not nearly as soft as Ludwigs, Unisons, or Schminkes. And, they're probably just a teeny bit harder than Mount Visions. Dakota rates them as harder than Rembrants, but I think they are softer. Maybe try a 6 piece set some day, in some of their unusual colors? They're definitely a nicer feeling pastel than Rembrants, IMHO.

Oh, and yes, my set did come with some light tints. There are 8 of them, and I use them all the time. Just enough for me, especially with the other 'lights' I've gotten in other sets I have. I like them quite a lot :D .

Anne-Marie
08-19-2010, 01:44 AM
Yes, Chris, it was a red! That's funny you should know. It was N513, Bordeaux.

I know that when I mentioned my experience with the Sampler, people here on the board were flabberghasted. The Winsor Newton was sublime! By far the softest of the bunch! The Schminke was greasy--didn't like it at all. The Rembrandt was surprisingly decent! And that AS! UGH!

I wonder if one should actually get TWO samplers--they come in different color families--just to see?

I will check out a six set at some time. I guess I'm glad that the field was initially artificially narrowed, because I had a hard enough time deciding between the Unisons, the Ludwigs, the Great Americans, and the Mount Visions!

allydoodle
08-19-2010, 11:06 AM
Ann-Marie,

I remember years ago, I needed reds to round out my selection. I was doing a lot of still life, and apples were aplenty :lol: ! I complained that my reds were 'scratchy', and I didn't like them at all. My teacher explained that for some reason, some of the pigments used to make red turned out some really hard pastels. Not nice stuff. I ended up buying a bunch of Schminke's in different tones of red, and they worked out well. I know you don't like Schminke (I don't use them much either, they're pretty soft), but they work well in that application. I have found the Unison, Mount Vision, and Ludwig reds to be really nice, as well as the Art Spectrum (I know, yours is 'scratchy' - I have 16 of them in my pure tones set, ranging from dark blue reds to light orangy reds, with warm brown reds in between.) I have to say that not one red in the bunch is horrible to use. They're really nice. I just used them in a painting I posted yesterday in the pastel gallery called 'Vineyard Glow - every painting has a story!'

Don't write them off just yet. I'd be surprised if you tried a few more and still didn't like them. :D I just think you got a bad sample.