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  #136   Report Bad Post  
Old 08-15-2014, 01:31 AM
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robertsloan2 robertsloan2 is offline
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Re: Yes, You CAN Have Too Many Pastels!!!

Read through the entire thread again today, amused.

The different opinions expressed were and are a lot of fun.

It is possible for someone to be and become a great pastelist with no more than a handful of sticks, a starter half-sticks set or a used box with random bits in it no more than 50 or 60 total. Some of my favorite pastelists have small sectioned bins with different hues per section and values mixed in per hue. I've seen those concise little setups in their videos and marveled at their results. Jackie pulls out a dozen pieces and she's got her palette.

Jackie is right about how few are needed to paint well and that's vitally important for someone on a low budget. I remember being out of work, buying 30 Basic Assortment Grumbachers and a day later, 30 Skin Tones to supplement it - and then getting the best job of my life during my street painter years, in which I bought a lot of Prismacolor colored pencils and other supplies just for fun but didn't buy any more pastels because those were adequate to do the work I did for money.

I got burned out from doing it because my body betrayed me and the best job of my life fell apart when I could not work enough days in the month to live on it. I wound up homeless and broke on account of disabilities that got worse and some bad decisions on how to work around them due to complete denial of having any physical disabilities.

I got back into them with 60 hand me down Rembrandts in a box passed around between several oil painters trying the medium. They were barely used, my friend and the painters before him including the one who bought it hated pastels as soon as they tried them. I knew how to use them and that box would have been enough to do my old gig.

But I have over a thousand unique pastels now, about half of them pieces that I don't have the full stick or half sticks I bought as half sticks. I love half sticks. More colors for the money. I like the variety. I'm happier with that much variety in color and texture - and that is more in texture at this level than color.

Unique colors are mostly found in the muted or slightly muted range. In specific browns that are a little redder or a little grayer or a little yellower. Specific gray greens darker or lighter. Specific grayed violets. Or finely gradated tints like 10 values of Cobalt or Ultramarine Terry Ludwigs. They would make a finer gradation in a big painting than having 5 values of Ultramarine and they'd take twice as long to wear down. With my 150+ Prismacolor colored pencils, I found out the more variety I have, the less likely I will just wear down the olive green. I'll use all the olive greens and wear down all of them slower.

There is also fun in using a limited random palette. I've done it with a Terry Ludwig mystery box, and emulated it by picking out 14 colors at random with my eyes shut but moving my hand to get some darks, some medium and some light, and got close to the spectrum on the randoms. But whether muted or not was random. I've also used 12 color half stick sets and done without whatever wasn't in it. That is fun in itself and also means being able to kit up by shoving something in pocket.

At home I like a bigger palette out at once. For trial and error, the size I'm comfortable with is 120 Unison half sticks. That's the set that doesn't send me running over to find something else for a hue it hasn't got. I've noticed more of the big 90 to 120 half sticks sets have that good an assortment. I'm not doing without turquoise, pink or purple with that, or without a choice of tints in the basic colors. There's always browns and grays if I want them - and when I used that one, almost every time, I wound up getting almost every stick in the box dirty. Which ones stayed clean depended seriously on subject.

I like doing a variety of subjects now too. From references I roam around the globe on landscapes and remember the changes of sky and land from trips I took decades ago. For portraits I don't just do people from one ethnic background. For florals, there is no limit on what colors turn up in flowers. I really like flowers, fruit, birds and brightly colored subjects for getting to use all the saturated colors, but also love rainy day scenes and muddy roads and wildlife that is mostly browns and grays.

If you are like that and have a limited budget, it can be done but it's better to do it gradually. Used supplies are a wonderful adjunct. Pot luck on Clearance is really good. Swap Shop is good. Half sticks sets on sale beat all. Sennelier Paris Collection is one of the good bargains for what you get, super-soft at a relatively low price and a big assortment.

Beginners do tend to find larger ranges easier. Especially if it has the full spectrum and tints and some darks. Beginners also go for "match the color" more directly than I did, anyone doing "Still Life the Colourful Way" can skip all my advice, buy the 40 or so Rembrandts that Colorix listed and have everything you need.

Past a certain tipping point they wear down slower. Near-whites eliminate the problem of White Runs Out with insufficient tints. Tints help reduce the wear on white. A big collection like mine, I could see not running out of anything in a long long time except the particular colors in that 120 Unisons set because it stands alone. They'll all wear down about the same, when I use it, I use all or most of the sticks. When the set looks grayish, it tends to be after 1 to 3 paintings and I've handled every stick in it at least once with dirty fingers.

So that tells me "lots of colors" is part of my personal style, that when I have a big range I use a big range. The same thing happened to my 200 Winsor & Newtons tray. When I cleaned them I had to clean dang near every stick. By the second cleaning I had cleaned every single piece. I use what's nearest to what I want and if there are nuances I'll use them - but I oddly do more mixing with a big range, will put a tint 3 pink down and then pick that particular yellowish beige over it and that other green-gray tint after and that's right for just there, that cloud.

Why? I don't know. Might be that I read Gary Greene and used Prismacolors before reading Jackie's tutorials. Might just be that when I worked in New Orleans, I saw some "A" list painters using the full 525 color Sennelier range and literally using the whole dang thing in a portrait, for nuances, because they had it. They had no trouble using green or violet tints in the shadows and matched skin tones to perfection and understood color the way Colorix does. They harmonized the painting and picked up the ones they used in different values, got the reflected color of the subject's clothes into their face and repeated them into the background hazy mixed grays.

They were that good and I wasn't at the time and that soaked in. With that range in hand, I do that kind of thing more often now. But that's who I am and everyone is different. Your hand, your style, your choices and favorite painters will be different. Charlie could have sold me on a 40 color palette and I'd keep it all in one small box and never need anything else - but for my Prismacolors past and that doing the same method with muted sticks looks cool in a different way.

Be you, do it your way and if you become a collector, just enjoy it for what it is and enjoy organizing, cleaning, reorganizing and using them too. Don't use lack of them as a reason not to paint. I agree 100% with Jackie on that. For all my love of giant palettes I can also have a really good result with just 12 Color Conte in the pocket box.
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Old 08-15-2014, 03:54 AM
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Nick7 Nick7 is online now
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Re: where is that photo of 4000 pastels?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAK723
Perhaps this thread which shows Donna Aldridge and her 4600 sticks - scroll down to post #7.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/show....php?p=6512096

Don

OMG Now I don't feel guilty any more that I want more than 120 sticks!
Thank you, Don.
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Old 08-15-2014, 10:35 AM
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robertsloan2 robertsloan2 is offline
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Re: Yes, You CAN Have Too Many Pastels!!!

Don't feel bad about that at all. Sometimes it's great to have exactly the color you need in the texture you need.

I'm in awe of Donna Aldridge's collection. Give me either a middle class income for a decade or win the lottery and my apartment would look a lot like that, plus I'd be going to workshops and things. Actually I think even then it'd happen gradually except for getting the Roche' pastels. Lottery scale money I could not resist full range Roche'.
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Old 08-16-2014, 09:25 AM
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Re: Yes, You CAN Have Too Many Pastels!!!

I am new to pastels, but I feel that i need to share something that is similar. I am an audio professional, and mix and record music for a living (primarily), and in today's audio world, we are no longer bound to analog tape...the big reel to reel tapes that some of you remember..today we use computers. Tape gave us 24 different sectors to which to record a great song...computers give use literally endless amounts, so the inexperienced, AND experienced tend to use an insane amount of them to simply convey what others have done in the past with 8 sectors...think Beattles...no more than 8.

So....do we NEED hundreds of tracks and musical parts and stacks and stacks of vocals to make a good record? no. In fact, having so many removes the "commitment" factor and lends to over-production of the song, usually a bad thing.

Basically, my point is, it's nice to have hundreds and thousands of tracks, but it won't make a better song happen if the basics aren't there...conversely, it's nice to have thousands of pastels, but they won't make a better painting, so as long as you have the basics...

The producers of the Beattles were limited, so they got very creative...if you only have a limited amount of pastels, you just need to get creative.

Sorry, I got a little carried away, but I see that more pastels=a better painting is a pitfall for many of us beginners especially.

Now having said all that, I gotta go buy some more pastels, because you can't have too many...
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Last edited by jakertanner : 08-16-2014 at 09:46 AM.
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