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Monday, March 30, 2015

Choosing the Right Pastel for Distant Mountains

'Blue Ridge Memories'               8x10           pastel             ©Karen Margulis
purchase this painting here $145
I am enjoying this blue pastel.  I don't remember what set it came from. I found it in my overflow box of blue pastels. I was looking for a distant blue mountain color. I do know it is a Terry Ludwig pastel.  I might try to find out the exact color number. But most likely I won't. I will just enjoy it until is is gone and then find another great distant blue. It keeps me on my toes. It keeps my palette from being too much the same for every painting.

I had a question this week about how I choose my distant mountain colors.
 It is simple. I know that most of the time, as objects recede they get lighter, cooler, more blue, duller, less contrast. For MOST distant mountains I look for blues that are grayed down, lighter, and cooler. There are always exceptions...sometimes they are brighter or darker or maybe even warmer depending on light and conditions. A variety of blues are needed!  I'd like to share a previous blog post I wrote about this topic. (read it below)

'Heavenly Path'           5x7         pastel           $50
I have been on a hunt.  Trying to find the perfect blue pastel. I have been looking for what I call 'Distant Mountain Blue'.  That beautiful blue of distant mountain ranges.  I have lots of blue pastels. Lots. But I always think there has to be the perfect 'distant blue' So I keep looking. And trying blues.

Really it isn't something I do for any other color. In fact I never keep track of color names and numbers.  I don't even make color charts with new pastels.  When I get new pastels the first thing I do is take the labels off, break them and put them in my box.  At that point on they become anonymous.

And that is fine with me. Sometimes students will be reluctant to take their new pastels out of their boxes and take off the labels. The big question... How will I replace a color when it is used up?  I don't worry about replacing the exact stick of pastel.  I just try to find one that closely matches the color, value and temperature of the stick I need to replace. And that works for me.

Except when it came to the illusive blue pastel. I wanted the perfect color and if I ever found it I planned to keep the wrapper!  But guess what?  After spending a month in the Southwest looking at those wonderful distant blue mountains and trying to paint them. I realized that one stick of blue can't possibly work for all the variations of blue I saw. It really is necessary to have a few different blues to truly capture the many variations. 

So my big blue collection with no names or numbers is really all I need!


Unknown said...

Thank you so much for telling us you don't make color charts or "track" the colors you have with color charts etc. I am not organized enough to do these things either, but would stress over not having done it. If I have a special color set, like the Thunderstorm Grey set, I do keep those in the original box. But otherwise, like you they just go into my general pastel boxes and I have no idea of the color names or who made them.

You have made me feel better about my system, or lack of a

Unknown said...

That's what I love about pastels, they set your spirit free to let the beauty appear!