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Old 08-02-2014, 04:41 PM
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if one color to test a brand???

Hi all, I apologize for the novice question in advance.

I am still trying to sort out which brand of pastel is going to work best for me.. In doing so, I am planning on trying just about every artist quality brand out there..at least one stick, which brings me to my question:

If I had only one stick of a pastel brand to test pigment richness, what color would be best to try? What color(s) would YOU test to see which brand is more pigment rich/ less binder, more pigmnet?

I know some have reputations, but I am not experienced enough to just know what brands are great. Case in point...I just received a sample of Mount Visions, and I love them. They are very soft, and the colors I received are great, but how can one tell if the rest of the color line is going to be great too?

Are there problem colors throughout brands? Not in lightfastness, but in quantity of pigment versus filler?

Thanks to all who reply.
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Old 08-02-2014, 05:21 PM
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Re: if one color to test a brand???

Quote:
Originally Posted by jakertanner
Hi all, I apologize for the novice question in advance.

I am still trying to sort out which brand of pastel is going to work best for me.. In doing so, I am planning on trying just about every artist quality brand out there..at least one stick, which brings me to my question:

If I had only one stick of a pastel brand to test pigment richness, what color would be best to try? What color(s) would YOU test to see which brand is more pigment rich/ less binder, more pigmnet?

I know some have reputations, but I am not experienced enough to just know what brands are great. Case in point...I just received a sample of Mount Visions, and I love them. They are very soft, and the colors I received are great, but how can one tell if the rest of the color line is going to be great too?

Are there problem colors throughout brands? Not in lightfastness, but in quantity of pigment versus filler?

Thanks to all who reply.


Pastels, by there nature, are intense and pigment rich. In general, the softer the pastel, the less binder and more pigment. So, the super softies such as Schminke, Sennelier, Great American and perhaps one or two others will be more intense in color than the medium pastels which in turn will be more pigment rich than the hard pastels. But they all have their purpose and use regardless of pigment load. And, as I mentioned, they are all intense and pigment rich compared to the other mediums.

I don't think there is any good reason to concentrate on getting just one brand. My guess is that almost all of us have many brands because no one brand has everything you will want or need. You may have an entire set of one brand - but that brand may have a small selection of grays and neutrals, for example.

For me personally, I usually concentrate on color first - trying to get the colors I want. I found that the selection of greens from Mount Vision suited me best, so most of my greens are from them. I also had many of their thunderstorm gray set - very valuable colors that I couldn't get anywhere else. I didn't like their skin tones, however, so most of those are Giraults. For really soft pastels for highlights and accents and final strokes, I have about 30 Senneliers. Many brands have a limited number of very dark colors, so choosing a dark set from Ludwig is the choice of many. Over the years, since I seem to like working with medium hardness pastels better than the super-softies, I had more Giraults and Mt. Visions than the other brands. But for those who use primarily softer pastels, their choice would be different.

I think, as you begin to experiment, the hardness and the texture of the pastel will influence you most as you pick your favorites.

Again, these are just my opinions.

Don
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Old 08-02-2014, 05:38 PM
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Re: if one color to test a brand???

Hi Don,

Thank you for the answer.
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Old 08-02-2014, 05:57 PM
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Re: if one color to test a brand???

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAK723
Pastels, by there nature, are intense and pigment rich. In general, the softer the pastel, the less binder and more pigment. So, the super softies such as Schminke, Sennelier, Great American and perhaps one or two others will be more intense in color than the medium pastels which in turn will be more pigment rich than the hard pastels. But they all have their purpose and use regardless of pigment load. And, as I mentioned, they are all intense and pigment rich compared to the other mediums.

I don't think there is any good reason to concentrate on getting just one brand. My guess is that almost all of us have many brands because no one brand has everything you will want or need. You may have an entire set of one brand - but that brand may have a small selection of grays and neutrals, for example.

For me personally, I usually concentrate on color first - trying to get the colors I want. I found that the selection of greens from Mount Vision suited me best, so most of my greens are from them. I also had many of their thunderstorm gray set - very valuable colors that I couldn't get anywhere else. I didn't like their skin tones, however, so most of those are Giraults. For really soft pastels for highlights and accents and final strokes, I have about 30 Senneliers. Many brands have a limited number of very dark colors, so choosing a dark set from Ludwig is the choice of many. Over the years, since I seem to like working with medium hardness pastels better than the super-softies, I had more Giraults and Mt. Visions than the other brands. But for those who use primarily softer pastels, their choice would be different.

I think, as you begin to experiment, the hardness and the texture of the pastel will influence you most as you pick your favorites.

Again, these are just my opinions.

Don


Thanks for the reply. So you would not categorize MVs as part of the softies? They seemed to go down fairly smooth...not creamy like Unisons, but more like a soft powder..I thought were great, but you say for the final final layer, they wouldn't hold?
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Old 08-02-2014, 06:48 PM
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Re: if one color to test a brand???

I suppose each person would have a slightly different take on the order of softness - it is really splitting hairs in some cases - but here is the list that Dakota has on their website:

http://www.dakotapastels.com/pages/i...ftpastels.aspx

As you can see, Mt. Visions fall into the middle of the pack in terms of softness. In my opinion, they are plenty soft enough for any kind of application. There is absolutely no rule as to how one applies pastel - and the type of paper, amount of layers, thickness of application all play a part in how much you can layer and how easily one pastel will layer on top of another. I think, in general terms, the softest pastels will work better than a harder pastel if you want to opaquely layer, but you can do pastel paintings with only medium softness pastels, only hard pastels, only soft pastels, or any combination. It really will depend on how you work, the type of paper, etc.

I know these types of answers are often vague - and newcomers to pastel want as much info as possible - but too much info can be a detriment, in my opinion. Your experience will give you the best answers for you. So my recommendation is always - get a few pastels and some inexpensive paper - and paint and have fun trying it out! For the first 4 years I painted with pastel, I had a 48 set of Nupastels and a set of 12 (or maybe 24) student grade Alphacolor! Today, the choices are so great it can be confusing. My usual recommendation would start with a medium softness pastel (Mt. Vision would be a great choice) and just go from there! There is no reason to buy softer or harder brands unless (or until) you find out that you could use or need them. Just my opinion, of course.

Don
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Old 08-02-2014, 07:27 PM
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Re: if one color to test a brand???

I think what he's saying is that Senneliers will go over Mount Visions easier than Mount Vision go over Senneliers.

If you're looking to save money by getting only one stick in each brand, why not email Dick Blick or Jerry's Artarama asking for free samples in order to decide your main brand? Both of them will send one to three sticks of everything they have in open stock to let you decide what to get your main set in.

Dakota Pastels sells a sampler box in blue, green, red or yellow choices. That's still cheaper than the cost of one stick in each of those brands and blue would be my suggested color, even more than green. You can do ablue monochrome evening scene painting and it'll look gorgeous, finding out what all of them can do - and then when you settle on an anchor set you'll still have plenty of extra blues beacuse they wear down faster than other colors. Greens do too. I got greens because I love landscapes but I would have been as happy with blue.

Getting a bunch of sticks all exactly the same value and hue could be inconvenient though, you'd never run out of it but never use them up. Better to test texture and pigment load and decide what you like best by feel, then get a set in that range - but be open to more colors and smaller sets sometimes.

I got a lot of my pastels on Clearance sales or coupons. I'd wait till it came on sale or find a discontinued gift set or something. My collection expanded this way and that, while all of them work well together if I remember to put softer over firmer. Dakota has a listing of them by which one's the softest (Sennelier tops the soft end of the list) and the hardest. I can't remember what the most firm soft pastel is, might not be Girault though since those spread like they're softer than they really are.

They all have something special about them. That's the cool thing about the brands - many are developed by artists with unique formulas like the Diane Townsend pumice mixture or Girault's fine-grained dense firm stick that handles like a hard pastel for detail but spreads like it's much softer than it is. The broader your collection, the easier it is to get some special effects or multiple layering.

I never did settle on an absolute favorite because I honestly enjoy them all. I have category favorites but Mount Vision and Unisons while different and in the same category both have their appeal.

If you have the budget for a full range set, then it's important to choose a brand for it and the samples really are that important. But if you go less than that it's possible to wind up with a full range of colors made up of many different brands. I always wanted a big wood box full range set and when I finally got one, it was because the brand was being Discontinued so the price dropped to about 75% off so I could afford it. I love them. Even the box is gorgeous. But I would have been as happy with Art Spectrum or Rembrandt wood box full range set.
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Last edited by robertsloan2 : 08-02-2014 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 08-02-2014, 08:08 PM
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Re: if one color to test a brand???

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAK723
I suppose each person would have a slightly different take on the order of softness - it is really splitting hairs in some cases - but here is the list that Dakota has on their website:

http://www.dakotapastels.com/pages/i...ftpastels.aspx

As you can see, Mt. Visions fall into the middle of the pack in terms of softness. In my opinion, they are plenty soft enough for any kind of application. There is absolutely no rule as to how one applies pastel - and the type of paper, amount of layers, thickness of application all play a part in how much you can layer and how easily one pastel will layer on top of another. I think, in general terms, the softest pastels will work better than a harder pastel if you want to opaquely layer, but you can do pastel paintings with only medium softness pastels, only hard pastels, only soft pastels, or any combination. It really will depend on how you work, the type of paper, etc.

I know these types of answers are often vague - and newcomers to pastel want as much info as possible - but too much info can be a detriment, in my opinion. Your experience will give you the best answers for you. So my recommendation is always - get a few pastels and some inexpensive paper - and paint and have fun trying it out! For the first 4 years I painted with pastel, I had a 48 set of Nupastels and a set of 12 (or maybe 24) student grade Alphacolor! Today, the choices are so great it can be confusing. My usual recommendation would start with a medium softness pastel (Mt. Vision would be a great choice) and just go from there! There is no reason to buy softer or harder brands unless (or until) you find out that you could use or need them. Just my opinion, of course.

Don

Opinions are what matter to me, so thank you for your time and response. My concern wasn't so much about which brand is softest, but what color, out of all the brands, tends to be a good choice to check the pigment release. I know that some colors are grittier than others, and softer too..nature of the pigment, I guess that's what I meant. I have a bunch of brands, but i like them all, but I like them based on the colors of the samples..would I NOT like them basically, had I chosen or received different colors? I guess that's the best I can ask this question...I know it's confusing, and I am not graceful with words..lol
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Old 08-02-2014, 08:12 PM
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Re: if one color to test a brand???

Quote:
Originally Posted by robertsloan2
I think what he's saying is that Senneliers will go over Mount Visions easier than Mount Vision go over Senneliers.

If you're looking to save money by getting only one stick in each brand, why not email Dick Blick or Jerry's Artarama asking for free samples in order to decide your main brand? Both of them will send one to three sticks of everything they have in open stock to let you decide what to get your main set in.

Dakota Pastels sells a sampler box in blue, green, red or yellow choices. That's still cheaper than the cost of one stick in each of those brands and blue would be my suggested color, even more than green. You can do ablue monochrome evening scene painting and it'll look gorgeous, finding out what all of them can do - and then when you settle on an anchor set you'll still have plenty of extra blues beacuse they wear down faster than other colors. Greens do too. I got greens because I love landscapes but I would have been as happy with blue.

Getting a bunch of sticks all exactly the same value and hue could be inconvenient though, you'd never run out of it but never use them up. Better to test texture and pigment load and decide what you like best by feel, then get a set in that range - but be open to more colors and smaller sets sometimes.

I got a lot of my pastels on Clearance sales or coupons. I'd wait till it came on sale or find a discontinued gift set or something. My collection expanded this way and that, while all of them work well together if I remember to put softer over firmer. Dakota has a listing of them by which one's the softest (Sennelier tops the soft end of the list) and the hardest. I can't remember what the most firm soft pastel is, might not be Girault though since those spread like they're softer than they really are.

They all have something special about them. That's the cool thing about the brands - many are developed by artists with unique formulas like the Diane Townsend pumice mixture or Girault's fine-grained dense firm stick that handles like a hard pastel for detail but spreads like it's much softer than it is. The broader your collection, the easier it is to get some special effects or multiple layering.

I never did settle on an absolute favorite because I honestly enjoy them all. I have category favorites but Mount Vision and Unisons while different and in the same category both have their appeal.

If you have the budget for a full range set, then it's important to choose a brand for it and the samples really are that important. But if you go less than that it's possible to wind up with a full range of colors made up of many different brands. I always wanted a big wood box full range set and when I finally got one, it was because the brand was being Discontinued so the price dropped to about 75% off so I could afford it. I love them. Even the box is gorgeous. But I would have been as happy with Art Spectrum or Rembrandt wood box full range set.

Thanks Robert. I think the reason I asked about a specific color, is that I like all the samples I received thus far, but are the colors I received, a good representation of the entire line, or will I not like the other colors as much...basically what i wanted to know. Are there favorite colors among brands? Not BECAUSE of their hue, but because of the way in which THAT particular color releases pigment..lol I am confused...lol
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Old 08-02-2014, 09:38 PM
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Re: if one color to test a brand???

I haven't used all the brands by any means, but offhand I can think of only 2 brands that have a few sticks that are different than the rest - Sennelier and Rembrandt - which both have a few sticks that are harder than the rest. There is one stick of green in Sennelier that is very hard! Perhaps there are a few others. Rembrandt is a middle to hard pastel, but if I recall, they had a few harder sticks, too.

Otherwise, at least as far as I know (and I have nothing close to a complete set in any brand) most brands are very uniform in softness, texture and the richness of the color. So, I think that any sample color will be representative of the brand in almost every case perhaps avoiding dark green!

Don
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Old 08-02-2014, 10:04 PM
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Re: if one color to test a brand???

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAK723
I haven't used all the brands by any means, but offhand I can think of only 2 brands that have a few sticks that are different than the rest - Sennelier and Rembrandt - which both have a few sticks that are harder than the rest. There is one stick of green in Sennelier that is very hard! Perhaps there are a few others. Rembrandt is a middle to hard pastel, but if I recall, they had a few harder sticks, too.

Otherwise, at least as far as I know (and I have nothing close to a complete set in any brand) most brands are very uniform in softness, texture and the richness of the color. So, I think that any sample color will be representative of the brand in almost every case perhaps avoiding dark green!

Don

Will do, thanks a lot!!
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Old 08-02-2014, 10:11 PM
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Re: if one color to test a brand???

OH, I misunderstood the question. At first I thought, what one color would be a good choice for testing so that the textures would be clear between the brands. Don's right.

Don, thanks for identifying the brands that have the few harder ones. Most do formulate the pastels differently to compensate for the pigment and still get the same texture throughout the line.

Given that, your Mount Visions ought to be consistent. Mine were on the Chromatic set and that had pure tones of bright colors for most of it. I'd count on them all to pretty much feel like Mount Visions.

I remember one Sennelier that I got was a bit crumbly - but it was just one color, most were all right. They are trying to keep to the same amount of pigment per stick so that may be why it happens, those colors might need more binder to be soft. Good to know that about the Rembrandts. None of my Art Spectrums had that problem and I had the Pure Tones set with what was then all their pigments. They'd just discontinued that set because they added some new pigments so it wasn't complete, they replaced it with a new Pure Tones set that cost more.
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Old 08-02-2014, 11:13 PM
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Re: if one color to test a brand???

Quote:
Originally Posted by robertsloan2
OH, I misunderstood the question. At first I thought, what one color would be a good choice for testing so that the textures would be clear between the brands. Don's right.

Don, thanks for identifying the brands that have the few harder ones. Most do formulate the pastels differently to compensate for the pigment and still get the same texture throughout the line.

Given that, your Mount Visions ought to be consistent. Mine were on the Chromatic set and that had pure tones of bright colors for most of it. I'd count on them all to pretty much feel like Mount Visions.

I remember one Sennelier that I got was a bit crumbly - but it was just one color, most were all right. They are trying to keep to the same amount of pigment per stick so that may be why it happens, those colors might need more binder to be soft. Good to know that about the Rembrandts. None of my Art Spectrums had that problem and I had the Pure Tones set with what was then all their pigments. They'd just discontinued that set because they added some new pigments so it wasn't complete, they replaced it with a new Pure Tones set that cost more.


I think I am going to be diggin those Art Spectrum sticks...Gonna be ready to place an order shortly for a few different brands, but different colors..Maybe the best of each brand for the job.
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Old 08-03-2014, 07:05 AM
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Re: if one color to test a brand???

I find that some of the Mt. Visions darker blues, greens and purples are harder and more gritty than the other colors.

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Old 08-03-2014, 08:25 AM
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Re: if one color to test a brand???

I have one bright yellow in the Sennelier Paris set that is so hard it is impossible to use.
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Old 08-03-2014, 10:03 AM
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Re: if one color to test a brand???

Thanks Cat and Carol...Exactly what I thought..so if I ad gotten a sample of a dark green MV, I would have thought that they weren't as soft and probably not given them a second chance. hence why I like various brands...maybe another brand makes soft Darks.. And the same with Sennelier, which I actually am not going to really try. Every time I got to Jerry's Artist Outlet, I try them on a sketching pad they have laid out, and just don't like they way they feel...maybe it's me..?

Carol, is that yellow part of a bad batch you think, or have you tried to replace it to see if it's just that color?

Thanks for the replies.
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