Sunday, 6 July 2008

Palette limitations in pastel

A day with time... So, I thought to myself to go back to Casey's short - but all you need - post on the six Unison pastels with which he travels. Check it out here

I'd been meaning to follow that one up since ever he published it, it only took me four months to do so. But I want to take some pastels with me to the Small Isles next week and although I have a perfectly good travel kit, it is rather large.

So, right in the spirit of sparseness, Casey does some of his plein air sketches with merely six pastels. They are Unison's Yellow 10, Yellow 15, Red Earth 9, Additional 30 (a dark purple), Blue Green 11, Green 29, and Grey 18 (a pale blueish grey). Have a look at Casey's post for the actual hues and values of these.

My oil colour mixing experiments have served me well for the first half of this year. Four colours is all I need, and any additional ones are luxury. So, how does this translate to pastels? My fascination with soft pastels firmly revolves around their immediacy: pure colour in stick form, just there to be applied immediately, with little binder, little mediation. Part of that of course works with each hue coming in one stick. And while I have far from a 400 and odd piece set of any pastel brand, I happily work with 40-50 hues at one time to choose from.

Casey's palette has some good yellows (incl a lime green), a red earth, a couple of blues/greys and a dark purple. That's not that far off from my hansa yellow - cobalt blue - raw siena - red earth oil palette. Ah, except the raw siena. The need for a good purple is obvious: in pastels dark purple is a firm favourite, and dioxazine purple is one of the oil luxury additions.

Well... as you see, my problem started with the selection of box. It is small. But not small enough to hold six - and only six - sticks. So I have about 20... rather unlimited, isn't it?

But, let us not be concerned with that - it's considerably smaller than my other box, and so small that it won't be noticed in my luggage.

I had bought some Diane Townsend Terrage sticks the last time I was in the US, some of them had to go in; pale blues greys had to, too; I took some high value blues too and some primary(ish) reds. There is some space left, and the only important ones I see missing are a lime green and a turquoise (for the sea in sunshine!!! says the optimist).

Any other missing? Or redundant even?


Casey Klahn said...

Wise of you to include ones you know will be needed vis-a-vis your locale. I had to have a Tuscan red in Italy, for instance.

I'll promise to post the works I just did at the lake, which are from the same location as the lake image I posted under the tag: Six Unisons.
You must, of course, post yours from your upcoming visit!

I had the bad luck of getting to my location without paper! You'll have to see what transpired when I post that!

Just one more detail - you'll be doing more blending of pastels than you ever thought of before with your small box.

Also, I got the actual list of six Unis from an artist in SF whose link I have lost, unfortunately.

Gesa said...

Yes, paper's on my list, Casey. But I am very curious of what you did without it. I will post, of course, and am looking forward to yours.
Blending - hm, yes... I haven't done much of that with pastels of late, but am curious how that feels after all that oil paint mixing.
I like it when one medium transfers skills to the next... will keep you posted.

Yellow said...

When I visited New Orleans years ago (I love name-dropping with places) I took soft pastels with me, and had to find a local art store, because I really needed a good peach colour. I couldn't mix it with what I had and I just needed it.
It's great to find out what colour pallettes other artists use.