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japonaise
09-20-2011, 06:05 PM
In an article about Clark Mitchell written by Maureen Bloomfield (Pastel Journal, August 2006), the artist discusses using the sides of his stick in an effort to keep from making tight fussy marks with the tip. Bloomfield also states that Mitchell likes to use little pieces of pastel.

In my working palatte, the sticks are already halves, with the remainder stored in the original boxes. I thought that would be as far as I would take it. But, while working on my newst painting - no title, just my muse, The Grand Canyon - I began recalling Mitchell's commentary, and the next thing I knew, I broke a half stick into half. It gave me pause for a moment, but when I layed down a stroke of color, I realized - this is terrific! What incredible control I have with this 1/4 stick!

So, don't be afraid to break. It may be the step needed - not for everybody - for some of us. J

SherryC
09-20-2011, 06:52 PM
I think once you bite the bullet and break those first sticks it is possible to go further without too much angst.:thumbsup: i will certainly give it a try. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Potoma
09-20-2011, 06:58 PM
I proudly paint with giblets!

japonaise
09-20-2011, 07:49 PM
Bonnie: Giblets, ha ha. Good one. Can I use that? And how do you transport your "giblets"? I think they would become lost in a Roz Bag Tray and possibly rattle around in a Dakota Traveler. I'm thinking of using a mfg pastel box with double layers of foam and then a couple of rubber bands to press the lid down to the bottom of the box. Do you have a better method? Jann

DAK723
09-20-2011, 07:57 PM
The fact that you can use the tip of the pastel when needed to make more detailed strokes AND use the sides of the pastel for broad strokes is one of the great advantages of pastel compared to the other mediums. What other way to do large areas and backgrounds, but with the sides? I wouldn't have the patience to try to do large areas with the tips!

Don

Phil Bates
09-20-2011, 08:14 PM
Don, I break the harder sticks into half, but the softer (and shorter) sticks I break into halves or thirds. The harder sticks have more length to do those larger fills with broader strokes.

That raises a question, do you break Terry Ludwig sticks? I do. I would just never use one of those for a large area.

Phil

Tom Perry
09-20-2011, 08:15 PM
I think once you bite the bullet and break those first sticks it is possible to go further without too much angst.:thumbsup: i will certainly give it a try. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Every time I buy a new car the first thing I do is kick the door panel. This keeps me from worrying about where the first dent was coming from. :D

DBfarmgirl
09-20-2011, 08:36 PM
Tom- You're killing me. My husband says the same thing.
(I only ever had one NEW car, got rear-ended with 5,000 miles on it, should have put that dent in the door panel....)

I still have pastels that have needed broken for a year, still can't do it...

Barbara WC
09-20-2011, 08:49 PM
My Terry Ludwigs and Senneliers seem to "chip and break" themselves- with no help from me! I did break both in half when new, but seem to be forming "baby pebbles" all by themselves.

Today was the first time I bothered to pick up such a small pebble of pastel- but it was just perfect for getting into a corner of a nose at portrait session! I was saving these little things to make a new stick, but realize it's easier just to use the small piece as it is! I then tried a really teeny piece, a sliver really, and it just disappeared in the PastelMat...

Break, break, break away... But it's so hard to do when they are new...

Barbara

Potoma
09-20-2011, 11:29 PM
Jann, I pack the giblets in my Roz Bag. I get four, maybe more, per partition and they weather it pretty well. No complaints.

It is also the benefit of working small. I don't use up a whole bunch of pastel in an outing, so they don't have to be large.

japonaise
09-21-2011, 12:30 AM
Thanks, Bonnie. I'll try using the Roz Bag for the giblets.

I am not a plein air painter - I get information overload and become too indecisive to capture the light, the subject, the colors - just name it - in plein air, it escapes me. However, in considering the use of giblets rather than half sticks, I might get a better sense of my palette with a quick view over a compact area vs long scans across lots of trays.

If you have any suggestions, please share. Jann

Phil Bates
09-21-2011, 12:35 AM
I have to admit there is a time I don't like to break my pastels... when they drop out of my hand!

P

japonaise
09-21-2011, 01:26 AM
Phil: there is a partial remedy for the oops drop - but it only works in a studio space not plein air, etc.

It may have been May 2011, or possibly June 2011, when there was a thread about foam garage floor pieces found at HD and Lowes. The WC wrote that she laid them on her studio floor for comfort and ease of cleaning.

Instead of the garage floor pieces, I bought an excercise machine mat. It's 46"x93" and I taped it to the floor so that my easels, drafting table and palatte trays sit on the perimeter. It IS really comfortable, but, more importantly, on days when I have a case of the "dropsies", more often than not, the sticks do not break. Shocking, I know, but really, they survive pretty well although it's not 100% effective. I actually dropped three sticks today - 2 were in tact and one Girault broke into thirds. The Girault was a "good thing" as it needed to be broken anyway.

I think that the heavy kitchen mats may also work, but the only ones I have seen have pictures of chickens, apples, sail boats..... not really the right decor for an art studio unless one is Wolf Kahn doing a barn series. J

allydoodle
09-21-2011, 09:12 AM
Don, I break the harder sticks into half, but the softer (and shorter) sticks I break into halves or thirds. The harder sticks have more length to do those larger fills with broader strokes.

That raises a question, do you break Terry Ludwig sticks? I do. I would just never use one of those for a large area.

Phil

I thought I would never use a Ludwig for larger areas, but I have surprised myself by doing so. I have a very light touch, and I have found that lightly scumbling over a sky with them works surprisingly well. I have used the Intense Dark ones on backgrounds in still life, so the leaving them intact works well for me. Which is why I haven't broken them. I guess because they have different sized edges, it's almost like working with different sized flat brushes. The longer side is a really large flat brush, and sometimes it comes in handy. Hence, the hesitation to break a Ludwig.

It's very interesting to hear how other people work, so many different ideas and approaches. Pretty neat.

Colorix
09-21-2011, 09:14 AM
Think of breaking sticks as gaining 'brushes' of different widths.

Intentional breaking, that is.

robertsloan2
09-22-2011, 09:04 PM
I spent years keeping all my sticks intact with their labels on, peeling them back when I'd worn them down to the label. This is what I get for coming to pastels out of colored pencils. Just using the tips felt like using a blunt instrument instead of a sharp pencil point.

After I hung out here for several years in this forum, I dared to break my Art Spectrums and loved how that helped. I loosened up and started using the sides of pieces.

I still don't break Terry Ludwigs or any sticks that are short. If they're small enough to use as they are, I'll just use them. Big ones like Mount Visions though, I needed to break into thirds or quarters. I love those MVs though, need to get more of them sometime.

I keep imagining working very large with Mount Visions and using whole sticks on their sides for broad background areas.

Peeling them is the part that seems like it takes forever. Breaking them is relatively easy. I've gotten better at snapping medium sticks right in the center. Peeling is messy and takes a long time though. I should get around to doing that with my Winsor & Newtons so I can put all the colors into the top tray, that'd make the set so much easier to use.

robertsloan2
09-23-2011, 12:57 AM
This thread reminded me to peel and break my Winsor & Newton sticks, so thanks for the discussion. I'm a bit over half done now, still have about 90 sticks left that need peeling and breaking.

Once I'm done the set will be a whole lot easier to use with all the colors in one tray. That'll be fun, even if it's getting so late I may not be painting with them tonight.

Phil Bates
09-23-2011, 01:57 AM
Phil: there is a partial remedy for the oops drop - but it only works in a studio space not plein air, etc.

It may have been May 2011, or possibly June 2011, when there was a thread about foam garage floor pieces found at HD and Lowes. The WC wrote that she laid them on her studio floor for comfort and ease of cleaning.

Instead of the garage floor pieces, I bought an excercise machine mat. It's 46"x93" and I taped it to the floor so that my easels, drafting table and palatte trays sit on the perimeter. It IS really comfortable, but, more importantly, on days when I have a case of the "dropsies", more often than not, the sticks do not break. Shocking, I know, but really, they survive pretty well although it's not 100% effective. I actually dropped three sticks today - 2 were in tact and one Girault broke into thirds. The Girault was a "good thing" as it needed to be broken anyway.

I think that the heavy kitchen mats may also work, but the only ones I have seen have pictures of chickens, apples, sail boats..... not really the right decor for an art studio unless one is Wolf Kahn doing a barn series. J

The mat does sound like a good idea. Often times the stick breaks as it hits the wooden lip of the easel on the way down. I put some foam on it, and it's better but not perfect.

Thanks,
P

robertsloan2
09-23-2011, 02:50 AM
Yeah, the mat sounds like a very good idea. I might get one sometime. I suppose that'd be something I could find at a Wal-Mart or something like that, maybe order it online.

Finished breaking all 200 Winsor & Newton sticks. That's something like when I got 132 new Prismacolors and had to sharpen every one of them - a lengthy, happy chore. Took a long time so I don't think I'll be using them tonight but from now on they'll be easy to handle.

equinespirit
09-23-2011, 04:03 AM
Just wondering, when you break your sticks and peel the labels off how do you know which numbers you need to reorder when you run out? :confused:
Im still not doing mine, I cant :lol: but my Girault dont have labels and Ive used several on their sides and lost the numbers :o

Colorix
09-23-2011, 05:38 AM
Even a bath-towel on the floor works. It can be washed. Snag is that it doesn't stay flat, so I'm out to the garage to look for an old rag-rug, they are 'stiffer'.

allydoodle
09-23-2011, 08:24 AM
Just wondering, when you break your sticks and peel the labels off how do you know which numbers you need to reorder when you run out? :confused:
Im still not doing mine, I cant :lol: but my Girault dont have labels and Ive used several on their sides and lost the numbers :o

Many people make up color charts by pastel brand (number and a scribble of color above it). This way they can always match the "unknown pastel" to something on the chart. You have to be able to identify the brand of the mystery color first though. Most people can tell what brand each stick is so that isn't usually a problem.

equinespirit
09-23-2011, 09:04 AM
Ah right, thanks Chris

SherryC
09-23-2011, 10:44 AM
I suppose I am lazy but I do not keep charts of colors. I figure if one runs out I can figure it out and if not I will buy another color to replace it that is close. I might even like that one better.

allydoodle
09-23-2011, 02:08 PM
I suppose I am lazy but I do not keep charts of colors. I figure if one runs out I can figure it out and if not I will buy another color to replace it that is close. I might even like that one better.

I agree Sherry, this is my approach also. I do know lots of people keep charts, but they're too labor intensive for me. I did fill in the colors of the chart of my Plein Aire 60pc Ludwig set (it came with a blank one), but that's as far as I'll go. It didn't take up much time because the chart was made already. As for the others, well, not so much :D .

SherryC
09-23-2011, 03:15 PM
:heart: Thank you. You made me feel better. I am just a pretty laid back person. I admire people who are that organized. It just doesn't work for me.

robertsloan2
09-24-2011, 11:09 PM
Sarah, on most of my pastels I chart them and list the numbers first. On my Winsor & Newton set of 200, they're discontinued - so when I run out of a color I'll be taking the stub or a swatch to match other brands and come close. After a while it doesn't matter - there comes a certain number of pastels where it seriously isn't replacing a specific stick so much as getting a light blue-green tint on the greenish side that's about that softness.