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Friday, March 23, 2018

Testing a New Pastel Set for my Plein Air Adventures

'Beautiful Dreams'          8x10        pastel       ©Karen Margulis
available $150
It's time to get ready for the plein air season. I have a busy one planned for this year. It will begin in April with the inaugural St. George Island Paint Out in Florida. I am honored to be a participating artist. I also have a plein air workshop in Vermont in June followed by a two week adventure to Provence, France in July. August through October brings a few more adventures. I really need to get my gear in order!

So when someone asked my opinion about the Richard McKinley 91 piece landscape set by Great American Artworks I was intrigued. I didn't know the set existed! I took a look online and decided that this set would be the perfect start to filling my Heilman mini pack box. This is the box I am planning to bring on my adventures. (Look for a post about filling a plein air box coming soon)

I placed my order through the Fine Art Store on Tuesday and my pastels arrived on Friday! What great service!  I love the color chart included in the box lid. Have a look!

Great American half stick set Richard McKinley Landscape selection available at www.fineartstore.com
I had to immediately try them out. You probably know that my favorite pastels are Terry Ludwig. This hasn't changed. This new set will complement my Ludwigs. And they do so nicely. Great Americans are soft. Some call them creamy or buttery and if you don't like the texture you might say they feel a bit greasy. I actually like the creamy texture. They work great as the finishing touches on a painting but I used them exclusively in todays painting. They work great and you can layer as long as you keep a light whispering touch until you are ready to shout!

Underpainting done with Derwent Inktense sticks on Uart sanded paper
I started the painting with a warm/cool underpainting with Derwent Inktense sticks and rubbing alcohol on Uart 400. I only needed a few layers of pastel to finish the painting. I thoroughly enjoyed painting with the new set and will continue to explore them.

Do you like Great American Artworks pastels? I'd love to hear your comments!


esther Jones said...

This was the first "artist grade"set of softies I bought. I did the math and realized I could get twice the number of pastels for the same money if I went with GAs over TLs. Being a beginner with budgetary restrictions made it a good choice. There are a few color gaps, but all in all it is a great set. I feel they are very soft, so now that I have some TLs, I like to use the GAs only toward the end or if I simply don't have that color in anything else.

Janette Meetze said...

I have never tried Great American but now I would like to. Love the TL’s but the price makes them a luxury. I am interested how you like working with the new Mini box. I have a Backpacker and A Double Sketch, I guess the mini is the Mama bear:-) inspiring painting as usual Karen.

Kristen said...

I love my Great American pastels! The colors are gorgeous and they are very soft. My only complaint is they are crumbly so you need a light touch. Dakota Pastels has some Try Me sets at a good price right now.

robertsloan2art said...

I have a 60 color half sticks set and love them, that set can handle any subject I want to paint. The full spectrum is represented with plenty of value shifts and neutrals, lights, darks, grayed colors. There's bright greens, something I don't like being without whether that's for artificial objects like painted dumpsters or people's clothing or for those moments in nature when sap green needs a certain intensity.

I'm glad you like these! The color range is gorgeous and so flexible. I love the painting you did with them too.

On texture they're very soft but not as soft as Ludwig. I do love their texture and it's a bit easier using them all the way through than Ludwigs. Also thrilled they do their entire range in half sticks since there are so many colors that I'd never use up a full stick of but like having all those nuances available. Someday...

Suzanne Gundlach said...

I am more of a "shouter" than a "whisperer" so they are not my go-to pastels. Little by little my boxes have been filling with Mount Vision pastels which stand up to my stronger marking style (and also are a great value since they are so large) -- my softer Great Americans and Schmincke sticks are reserved for highlights and eye-candy at the end.