14 March, 2007

Catching Up

High Intensity Blue Tray, Various Brands of Pastels

Playing catch-up today. I want to get a Colorist American Landscape back on the easel, today. A farm building, from a detailed area of The Heins' Farm.

Here it is, the middle of March, and I am still on pastel brands, and I want to do a hand-made pastel session with my readers, and post some more images.

The good news is, my review of brands winds down pretty quickly. The Diane Townsends, Senneliers, and my own pastels are my favorites. The others that I use are mostly on the softer end of the range of types available. The reason I keep to the softs are to preserve hue intensity, and to limit detail.

If I were to become a detailed realist, I would have to buy a complete set or two of the harder pastels, like Rembrandt and Windsor & Newton. I do use pastel pencils, especially for my small works (Colorist Italian Landscapes). The brands I use are Derwent and Faber Castell. Of course, one must have that General white charcoal pencil, as it's hardness is preferable. Use a sandpaper pad to sharpen your pencils.

The remainder of my palette are Schminke, Unison, and a few of the harder ones already mentioned. The general intensity of these are modest, except in a few of their colors, and so they perform limited tasks.

I will say that Hersey's Unisons are great for consistency of handling. That's not what floats my boat, however. I am all about "dealing" with the materials that are in front of me. Every paper - pastel combination presents the artist with a new set of challenges. That's part of the creative pursuit, and leads to a lot of unfinished or ruined projects! But, the freshness of the successes! That's the bomb ( as the kids say).

So, the Unisons have some great low-intensity greens, and the Schminke light value, both low and high intensity, yellows are indispensable to me. I will say that Unison has some high intensity umbers and sepias (browns) that are terrific. I don't use these as a rule, however.

Others will have more to say about their favorites and the handling characteristics of various brands. But, now you know my own take on these mysterious tools.

I will finish by saying that I have no great love of paper around my pastels. I don't feel compelled, for instance, to make my own sticks, and then go wrap them in paper. So, I salute the few manufacturers who don't "paper" their sticks, such as Girault and Terry Ludwig.

Let me add one other thing. You want a set or two of hard pastels. I highly value my Sakura brand set (an actual line of artist's quality hard pastels), which I have no current resource for. Anyone out there know where to buy these?


Lloyd Irving Bradbury said...

Thanks for the Info I need It!

Casey Klahn said...

You're welcome. Next: a few of my pastel chums.

Mary Richmond said...

hi Casey--great info! I am always at a loss as to how to store, mat, frame pastels....do you use a fixative? I've heard arguments on both sides that are convincing enough that now I'm totally confused. Will you be tackling this subject?

Casey Klahn said...

Hey, Mary!
I store my finished works in the bottom drawer od my flat files. If I need to double layer them, I put down a glassine sheet.
I have pretty much quit matting, and go with a linen liner that is OUTSIDE of the glass. I have seen some one excellent pastellist who frames the liner inside and I can't see the reason. My liner stays free of pastel dust, but it does get dirty sometimes in handling and transport. Then, out come the cleaning tools!
We used to double mat (actually, my Italian Landscapes are currently double matted because I have a large stack of custom cut surplus mats), but my constant transporting them around, coupled with helpers at fairs who aren't experts was getting too much dust on the mats.
I do use the Frame Space, Rabbet Space products, which make the space for the pastel to stand off the glass. If you're working with this product, and need some pointers, I'd be glad to share. The manufacturer in Oregon is reachable by phone, as well. Frame Tec.
So, my framed works are very high quality in appearance, with a flat black frame (for contemporary work), a linen liner, and then the glass over a spaced work. We seal the back with black paper, write the title in gel pen, and attach my business card with address.
I gave up on the last fix. It doesn't stop all the dust anyway, and does beat down the look of the finished work. I use Blair workable fixative for the first few layers, then for the last layers (except the finished work) I may use Last Cow (you might call it Lascaux) fixative if I need to have something to allow me to add more layers.
I have never used the fancy spray bottle and fixative system.
Again, the last layer doesn't really need or want fixative, IMO.
The back story, to me, is that the archivality of pastels is so good that fixative should have nothing to do with the preservation issues.

Mary Richmond said...

thanks, Casey...

Anonymous said...

Just discovered ur site and am throughly enjoying ur art and the wealth of info.
Are u still looking for Sakura pastels? I believe a store near me sells them or I go to Japan quite often and could get them there for u.
Also I have a question on something I read in Wolf Kahn's Pastel's book (pg69) -- he says "don't use "pastel paper" or "velvet paper" as it is sandpaper in disguise" and allows very little variation in the application of the medium. It is also wasteful, by abading much more of the pastel than necessary." So what kind of paper did he use for the pastels in his book?

Casey Klahn said...

Yes, I am very interested in Sakuras. The ones I use are artist's quality (although @ $1 a stick) hard pastels. They are a great resource for student oil pastels, and I sure don't need any more of those.

I think WK wouldn't want to be known for "rules" in art. I am big for sanded ground. I did find a paper that he uses, but it was an obscure reference and will take me a while to find again. Stay posted!

I think he basically likes cold pressed paper, perhaps like Rives BFK. I have used it, but watch out for the sizing which you may not like. The idea is something much like what you find in a sketch book, only archival and in a professional grade. This type does enhance the scribbly style he uses.

When I find that reference, I'll let you know.

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