Morning, 16x13, Pan Pastel, Pastels Girault on handmade paper, Jan Blencowe, copyright 2011
Indian River Marsh, 8x10, Pan Pastel, NuPastel on gray mat board, Jan Blencowe, copyright 2011
One of the really wonderful things about pastels are all the delicious colors available to an artist. Unlike paints that are mixed to create endless variations of colors pastels come ready made by the hundreds for color choices.
For anyone who loves color (as I do!) it is very easy to get carried away in a frenzy of chromatic choices. But my aesthetic bent leans toward subtle grades of hue in close tonalities.
Sherwood Island Storm, 15 x 9, Pan Pastel, Pastels Girault on handmade paper, Jan Blencowe, copyright 2011
So how does one resist the urge to succumb to the siren song of hundreds of pastels? Wise choices up front. I know that for myself I should probably never buy and entire set of pastels. Out of the three or four hundred colors I'm likely to get in the set I know that there will be many, many that I will never, and should never use in the kind of landscape work I do.
The assorted set I find of little use because they almost always contain colors in their most pure and intense form, not really great for the earthy muted colors necessary for the landscape.
Winter Dunes, 8x10, Pan Pastel, Pastels Girault on gray mat board, Jan Blencowe, copyright 2011
Shadows on My Path, 10 x 15, Pan Pastel, NuPastel on handmade paper, Jan Blencowe, copyright 2011
Many pastel companies make sets for specific subject matter, portraits, landscape, floral etc. Sometimes that gets a little over the top with companies offering Southwest, Northeast, Caribbean, Seascape, Cloud sets etc. But I think these sets can be worth looking at closely to see if they provide a good starting place for building your own custom set.
Some pastel companies offer sets of pastels put together by well known artists. This is a good place to begin if your favorite pastelist offers a set. I am currently acquiring the Elizabeth Mowry pastel set made by Pastels Girault. When the individual sticks went on super sale at Jerrys Artarama it was cheaper to buy each individual stick than to buy the whole set. About 3/4 of the set was in stock and I got it at an excellent price. I'm waiting for another good sale and I'll pick up the 25 or so colors I'm missing to complete the set.
Autumn Storm, 16 x 9.5, Pan Pastel, NuPastel on handmade paper, Jan Blencowe, copyright 2011
Distant Light, 13.5 x 9, Pan Pastel, Pastels Girault on handmade paper, Jan Blencowe, copyright 2011
Meanwhile I am amassing a wonderful set of Pan Pastels. I have the Landscape Set, which was an excellent core group of colors to start with. I also have the drawing set, which I have seen listed as for portraits, which it would be excellent for but it is also very nice for landscape work because of all the neutral and classic colors it contains, grays, umbers, iron oxide, burnt sienna and black and white all of which will help you create a strong, expressive tonal under painting.
Sunset Across the Marsh,17.25 x 15. 75, Pan Pastel, Pastels Girault on handmade paper, Jan Blencowe, copyright 2011
To those two sets I have added the extra dark earth color set, 5 colors and the extra dark shadow colors set, also 5 colors. Those have just arrived today along with some ColorFix Suede paper. I am hoping to test them out this week and and have a review for you early next week. Stay tuned!