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Friday, November 03, 2017

Painting White Without Using Pure White

'Sweet Girl'           9x12          pastel         ©Karen Margulis         sold
I never use white pastels. Well.....maybe sometimes but very rarely do I ever use a pure white stick of pastel in a painting.  I recently bought a chalkboard and chalk (for fun) and it reminded me of how chalky a pure white pastel can look. I prefer colorful lights.  When something is supposed to be white like clouds or snow I first look for the colors that are present in the surroundings. White things reflect the colors that surround them so they rarely appear pure chalky white.

When I am faced with painting something white like this adorable little dog I reach for my favorite light pastels...Diane Townsend Soft pastels. These lights are almost white but lean towards a pale color.  I call them 'Almost Whites'.  I love love Terry Ludwig, Sennelier and Schminke lights but I seem to reach most often for the Diane Townsends. I like the ever so slight gritty texture and how it they sound scratchy when using them.

Look at Diane Townsend pastel Here

I don't use a specific color name but when I am low I just order open stock. I like to keep a pale (almost white) version of each primary and secondary color on the color wheel....red, blue, yellow,orange,violet and green.  Basically I want a warm and cool light.

The next time you are painting something white and reach for the pure white....stop and look for the color. Choose a pale light instead of the white. Reserve that pure white for the highlight if it is even necessary.

The pastels I used for this dog painting. No Pure white for this white dog!

A selection of light value pastels with color.....Colorful Lights or Almost Whites


TerrieJ DimestoreDivaTV said...

I am really enjoying your blog, and this post as a beginner at art, learning watercolor and pastel. Thank you, Karen.

robertsloan2art said...

I love using the very light lights. The first ones I discovered were Art Spectrum, the Australian ones. I got a set that included some of those and they were fantastic. When I'm using a bright white highlight on something like an eye or a shimmering glass object, choosing the complement of the deep dark behind it will make it seriously pop, whiter than white. Terry Ludwig V100 eggplant with a faintly yellow near-white is awesome, actually brighter than white against black.