View Full Version : basic pastel questions

11-14-2002, 07:09 PM
ok guys! i have a question for you. i have been playing with pastels alot lately..i love them! i am experimenting with shading on a figure and on a face. I see how people do shading with a color say blue or green or whatever instead of gray...but how do you accomplish this without it looking odd? also how do you do detail in pastels? i tried doing eyes and the girl ended up looking like a zombie!
also one more question! is there any scret to picking out fixative? tips welcome!

thanks everyone.

11-14-2002, 07:35 PM
I dont have answers to all your quetions, but I have two things for you to consider. Paint what your eye sees, not what you assume. Spend some time really looking at the shadows of what you are painting and you will see that they are full of color. They are not really grey like our brain tells us that they are. I've also seen articles talking about using complimentary colors reduced in value by 3-4 as a starting point. That's maybe the reason you see so much blue/green used as a shadow in a figure or portrait. Don't know. Maybe the heavy hitters could weigh in on this one.
As for detail, you can sharpen a hard pastel with a sandpaper block or use pastel pencils.
Hope this helped:)

11-14-2002, 07:39 PM
I just noticed that you are from Minnesota. Just as an example, go outside and check out the snow. What color are the shadows there? I'll bet you see lots of blue and pink. This wouldn't work in New York City. The snow there does have grey shadows. :)

11-15-2002, 04:00 AM
Soulsketcher - areyu familiar with the colour wheel? If so, then you know something about complementary colours. Also, you might know something about warms and cools. If not, you need to read up about this, and I am sure you will find some useful threads in both the colour forum, and also the figure forum too.

The main reason why you see cool colours like blues and greens in portraits, is because often the sitter is illuminated on the "light side" by warm light - from the sun, or from a lamp. Warm light tends to throw cool shadows - that is a "rule of thumb" used by many painters. Then, those painters use the rules of "complementary colours" when they paint - green is the complementary of red, and orange the complementary colour of blue, so often, you will see greens and blues used subtly on the shadow side of a flesh-coloured form, which is essentially "red-orange" on the lit side.

However, "subtly" is a key word here, and there are lots of other factors at work too. Often, where flesh folds, or is enclosed, like the inside of an ear for instance, you get a warm colour.
Where skin tones turn into shadow, that is often where the warmest colour is found, right alongside the shadow area.

Where shadows have a greenish cast, it may be an olive-green, often found, for instance, under the lower jaw - but it is really important too that the temperature of this green-grey is right, or it will look like dead skin!

You DO need to observe carefully, take nothing for granted. there may be subtle reflected lights in the shadows; clothes can affect the colour of skin, as can light bouncing off nearby furniture.

There is much to learn. Your best bet is to go to the library and get some good portrait books out, and read as much as yu can.

11-16-2002, 07:43 AM
I agree with the others:D Using your color wheel is a big help if you unable to see the colors at first. Eventually you will train your eye to see everything like a giant color wheel, and the values and tones will come naturally to you.
Im sure youve heard people say, Oh she has that "Olive Complexion"! Well there is more truth to that then they realize. Takeing that as a base and useing complimentary colors, you could render a stunning portrait.
For details, I use Pastel Pencils, or the tips of pastels that have been filed or worn down. I also use tortillions to place pastels or blend in small areas.
When useing a fixative, just remember to spray lightly, and to note that a fixative will darken your colors. Some of your light colors may even disappear if oversprayed.
90 % of Pastellist that do use fixative, use it in the early stages of painting and go back in to lay colors.This s a great way to build colors as well.
Depending on where your at will vary in what brands are available to you. I use different brands, at the moment I have some Krylon Workable fixative sitting here.:D