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Old 08-05-2009, 11:27 AM
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bnoonan bnoonan is offline
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Re: How many soft pastels are minium usefull for landscapes and flowers ?

10,000 or.... 20,000 if you are rich! Not as many as you think when you get good at mixing colors.

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Old 08-06-2009, 03:09 PM
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Re: How many soft pastels are minium usefull for landscapes and flowers ?

LOL you are all to much . ok ok I only use the ones I think will work when doing a painting, buuuuuut I have to many now to count, cause I never know what color, shade or tint I may want or need to make things work for me. when I started out I could get by with a few say 30 or 40
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Old 08-06-2009, 05:49 PM
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Re: How many soft pastels are minium usefull for landscapes and flowers ?

I'm with David, you've got to be kidding about using only 30 or 40 sticks. A set that size will have mostly pure tones, almost no grays or darks. How can you get the subtleties needed for value, aerial perspective, color harmony, warm & cool shifts, grasses, bark, ground, water, sky gradations, neutral greens (for trees) and shadow tones? I must be living in a parallel universe....

I will agree that a painting can be done with 30 or 40 sticks, but that is choosing them from a much larger set to match a particular scene. Those won't be the same sticks you will find in a small set.

Just trying to help avoid serious frustration.

Phil
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Old 08-06-2009, 08:49 PM
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Re: How many soft pastels are minium usefull for landscapes and flowers ?

On the other hand!

Here is Michael Chesley Johnson's Extremely Limited Pastel Palette of 14 sticks.

And here here is Casey Klahn's Six Unisons posting. "What I am about to reveal will change your plein-air life forever."

A challenge!

J
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Old 08-07-2009, 09:21 AM
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Re: How many soft pastels are minium usefull for landscapes and flowers ?

Phil, absolutely, a set of 12 to 30+ sticks is no good. They have to be handpicked, with careful thought for hues and values. Neutrals can be made by layering, though, so they won't be necessary.

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Old 08-08-2009, 02:03 PM
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Re: How many soft pastels are minium usefull for landscapes and flowers ?

Charlie, we are on the same page regarding the need for a lot of sticks. But unless you are doing very impressionistic work with strong colors or a very stylized look, I respectfully disagree with your comment that neutrals wouldn't be necessary. For traditional landscape painting neutrals play a huge part in helping the painting "read" as a real scene.

Just so we're on the same page, I'll define neutrals as grayed down colors or colors with low chroma (saturation).

If you look at a common landscape scene, it will be made up mostly of neutrals. Here is an example:



For comparison, pure tones would look like this:


I am not saying that you can't use pure tones at all, but, for the "masses", the larger foundational shapes, neutrals are typically the best way to go. It's consistent with the painter's rule of thumb, "Dull to bright, dark to light, thin to thick, etc." Richard McKinley also makes the point that neutrals have natural color harmony built-in. Each neutral contains all primary colors, thus mimicking the effects of real light.

In the case of the above image, the resulting painting did have pure tones layered over the neutral masses. In fact, laying down a foundation of neutrals gives the pure tones a chance to really shine:


If a painting were to be made up of mostly pure tones, it can be beautiful, but probably not the intent of most landscape painters. And, with mostly pure tones, nothing stands out as special, thus you lose one of your main tools to direct the audience where you want them to look.

Considering the importance of neutrals to lay in the building blocks of the painting, would it make sense do all that by blending and layering? Sets of neutral sticks are easy to find as in Maggie Price's set of Essential Grays, Girault Grays, and Mt. Vision Thunderstorm Grays to name a few. Most generic 30 to 40 stick sets will not contain such neutrals and thus will be seriously lacking for traditional landscape work.

As always, I am expressing my opinion and others are free to disagree. However, I believe I am on similar ground here with most traditional landscape painters.

Phil
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Old 08-08-2009, 06:43 PM
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Re: How many soft pastels are minium usefull for landscapes and flowers ?

Phil, your work is always a pleasure to see. Thanks for your great demonstration.

In any medium I use (beginner in several), I have to keep telling myself to tone it down! The neutral tones make a big difference, though the pure colors in my pastel box keep calling my name, but they often look better in the box than used too much on a painting.

Before beginning with pastels, I found a couple of good buys on 60+ sets, and I've slowly added until I have an embarrassingly large number now. Luckily, I am attracted to the more neutral colors when purchasing. With my pastels, it is a pleasure to look over the collection to find either the exact color I need or a color that will do nicely until I buy more.

Thanks again, Phil. You post is really appreciated.
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Old 08-09-2009, 09:13 AM
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Re: How many soft pastels are minium usefull for landscapes and flowers ?

Phil, great example and tutorial. Indeed, different methods require different means, and your example is perfect for the tonalist method. I do go for the impressionist way, with purer colours, so it is another way of thinking, with other sets of 'rules'. It really *is* faster and simpler to use the neutrals, I do agree with you. My point is simply that the bare minimum of bright colours will give the option of mixing/blending/layering to produce visual neutrals, while neutrals won't give the option of making bright colours, so in my opinion the brights are more versatile than the neutrals, as you can use them for any painting, be it landscape, floral, or portrait. And yes, you'd indeed have to do more work to get the neutrals. No contradiction, just different approaches.

Charlie
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Old 08-09-2009, 09:37 AM
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Re: How many soft pastels are minium usefull for landscapes and flowers ?

Phil, thanks for the wonderful demo and explanation of neutral colors! Beautiful painting, as always. Just seeing the colors that you label as neutrals makes me realize that my concept of what is neutral needs to be revised. The golden color of those weeds at first glance seems fairly pure but it is influenced by the blue of the sky and the surrounding greens of the trees. I think I often confuse neutral with something that approaches mud - a mixture of many colors with none being dominant. Your example shows that neutrals don't have to be dull or boring - just subtly influenced by other colors.

Great discussion, and thanks to all for the info!

Donna
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Old 08-10-2009, 03:02 PM
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Re: How many soft pastels are minium usefull for landscapes and flowers ?

What you think about this 15 bright one pigment colours and 15 natural looking colours.
and if you can choose zinc and tinanium white ? what you choose. i think titanium is better for dark papers.
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Old 08-10-2009, 11:37 PM
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Re: How many soft pastels are minium usefull for landscapes and flowers ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPQ
What you think about this 15 bright one pigment colours and 15 natural looking colours.
and if you can choose zinc and tinanium white ? what you choose. i think titanium is better for dark papers.

JPQ, you not only need a range of hue, but also of value. So, let's say you pick 15 pure tones made up of 5 lights, 5 mediums and 5 darks, that is still not enough to give you all the primary and secondary colors, you will have to lose orange, green or violet. Neutrals will have the same problem. This is why such a small number will probably just frustrate you.

In this kind of scenario, the type of white won't matter.

JPQ, can you tell us a little more about yourself, why you are trying to do so much with so little? Is it a matter of cost or trying to fit supplies in a small box for travel? I would like to be an encouragement, but am not sure what direction to suggest (except of course, a palette with hundreds of sticks).

Phil
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Old 08-13-2009, 11:31 AM
JPQ JPQ is offline
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Re: How many soft pastels are minium usefull for landscapes and flowers ?

Basic Reason i only want test this medium if is suitable to me. max what i can
even now think is 30 maybe. and much more flowers than landscapes.
Manufacturer is i think selected. becouse i want also single pigment hues,and lovely (but still lightfast) flower suitable colours like ultramarine pink (real) and one orange (i dont know pigment but there is only one pigment i understading)
and some other reason what i cannot tell (i dont have words)...some modern stuff for example what really needs really bright colours and these are maybe good for subtle colour changes?
and second manufacturer what i can think i going test later if i dont liked first one (or other reasons) but i almost sure i like first one more. ps. i tested cretacolour hard pastels but i dont like them i think. no bright ultramarine type blue and some others also looks very dull to me someone even sayed i think even warm colours in cretacolour are very cold. ,and these dont come with pigment information at all. but cran d'ache neopastels are nice.

Last edited by JPQ : 08-13-2009 at 11:34 AM.
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Old 08-14-2009, 12:16 AM
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robertsloan2 robertsloan2 is offline
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Re: How many soft pastels are minium usefull for landscapes and flowers ?

I think I'd have fun trying to do landscapes and flowers with the Mount Vision Chromatic Set, been meaning to get that someday both to try Mount Vision and to see if they really are all strong brights in good chromatic order -- that would rock.

The minimum I'd want for doing that would be the five color Painters Set of Pan Pastels, because those mix like paint. That'd work. However, the more the better especially in sticks.

The little set that has worked well for me for florals and landscapes in the past where hard pastels are concerned is the Color Conte sticks. To my delight, those dang tiny hard sticks blend almost like Pans and the specific searing brights in the 12 color set are all chosen for "best mixers." I could get anything I wanted with those. But if I wanted to get anywhere more elaborate I'd probably be spreading out everything I have, working hard to soft through three brands and choosing the specific colors for that painting.

Charlie's palette from the Colourful Still Life class would probably rock for doing anything and I wish some good company like Unison would do a specialty Colourist set based on it. Especially if they did it as Charlie's signature set and put one of her really good paintings on the box, of course. They should pay her for it and give her a free set. You can find exactly those colors in Rembrandt, she listed the Rembrandt numbers and color names for each of the hues and values so it's possible to put together that exact palette from Rembrandt open stock.

So the minimum is actually pretty small -- a dozen well chosen colors would do it depending on the texture of the pastels. But it's easier with about 40 (the size of Charlie's palette) and that is leaving out any neutrals, just mixing them from brights in different values. Bring in neutrals and muted colors and there's a lot to be said for having thousands of sticks and then picking the ones that work for that specific painting.

When it's me, I'm always choosing the palette for a particular subject rather than having one favorite palette I always use.

Edit:

Reading Phil's post and tutorial, there is a fairly cost effective answer to bulking up the number of earth tones, muted colors and neutrals. Blick carries the Yarka soft pastels which used to be labeled artist grade for quality but got downgraded to student grade because of too many complaints that the set has no brights, even in the really big 185 stick wood box -- which is under $100. That is my "lots of neutrals" palette. Medium softness, excellent price and there are 135 unique colors in it plus about 50 spares -- so you could fill out the missing chromatic brights with Rembrandt or Art Spectrum and have a 185 color set that is portable, sturdy and powerful for a fairly reasonable amount of money.

Yarka pre-mutes a lot of the middle value colors other than some strong sky blues. There are no bright chromatic greens, reds, yellows, oranges or violets -- but there are lots of lovely tints without being muted and there are a fair amount of darks in the set. So that's a way to get a lot of good pastels cheap and then fill out the set with specific missing colors that suit your personal tastes and palette.

The box is unfinished but sturdy and a few thin coats of polyurethane furniture varnish would make it relatively weather proof too. I've tried a lot of more expensive pastels and come to still like my Yarkas for exactly what they are -- the "tints and neutrals and earth tones" box.

After doing Charlie's Colourful Still Life course I wondered how a painting would look using muted colors and tints but using the same methods of color balance and mixing. It came out spectacular and resulted in a wonderful trade with an artist that I adore. Sometimes I feel like doing all brights, sometimes not. It depends on the painting.
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Last edited by robertsloan2 : 08-14-2009 at 12:24 AM.
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Old 08-14-2009, 02:18 AM
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Re: How many soft pastels are minium usefull for landscapes and flowers ?

We are all pastelists, and quite mad. A 48 set of Rembrandt half sticks will allow anyone to experiment enough to decide if they like the medium without wasting their money if they decide to continue, or blowing half the rent if they don't. I took a class from LuAnn Winner recently & she handed me 6 colors, said here's your palette, and I turned out the best landscape I've done to date. So. The value of a coordinated palette & knowing how to mix are still valid, 400 sticks or no.
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Old 08-14-2009, 07:45 AM
JPQ JPQ is offline
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Re: How many soft pastels are minium usefull for landscapes and flowers ?

Actually i going test these:
http://www.southlondonartsupplies.com/page22.html
ps. to me at least based their acryl and aquarelle i think talens (rembrants manufacturer) colours are too dark to my taste in sometimes.
 


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