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Why 500 pastels?

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Oil Colors

You can do everything with twelve color tubes in oil painting

The seasoned oil painting artist only needs about twelve oil color tubes. Pastel painting needs a few hundred pastel sticks. A big difference. Why?

Oil Painting Color Mixing

Why so few basic colors in oil painting? Because the artist can mix them to create any desired color. For example, blue with yellow give green. Red with blue give violet.

By playing with proportions of those mixed-in colors, an artist can get every shade of colors in between. To continue with the red and blue example above, a drop of red in a blob of blue would give a violet-blue (blue toward the violet). And a small amount of blue in red would give a red going toward violet (fuschia)

A slightly ligther (going toward white)  color is necessary? Simply add a touch of white to the color mix. Simple, isn’t it?

Oil painting is equals to an infinite choice of solors

There it goes for oil painting artists. They have access to an infinity of colours. A drop of this and that on the palette, mix them in and  here it goes on the canvas!

Colors in pastel

Unfortunatly, pastel is not oil and there is next to nothing color mix possible in pastel because of their intrinsic nature (later on that in a next post). Expert pastellists could argue on that “no color mix” thing. But anyway, I am a pastellist and I don’t do pastel color mixing.

In pastel painting, one color = one pastel stick

I can’t “create” color in pastel, so the number of colors I can put on a pastel painting is equals to the number of different pastels stick I have. Ideally I would have an infinite number of those, but I “only” have about 500.

How many colors is needed in a pastel painting?

So, how many colors is needed in a pastel painting? It all depends on the artist and the subject. To paint the foliage of a tree in summer time, I need at least three closely related greens (ideally five or six) and a few blue-violet one. During springtime, I need a few more subtly different shades of greens. Snow asks for 3 or 4 shades of violets, a few oranges and several yellows. So with 500 pastel stick I still need more! Ouchh!

Even with 500 pastel sticks, I don’t have enough of them!

The other day, I was painting a foggy landscape in which colors had to be fadded (going toward gray) to achieve the fog effect. So colors had to be very similar but still different, otherwise the effect would be lost. So many colors were needed that I didn’t have that I sopped working on that painting! And then I ordered 36 grayish colors!

Unfortunatly it’s costly…

And I knew I wouldn’t have enough. But at $5 or $6 each stick…

I know that someday I’ll have a thousand of pastels. And I also know that I won’t have enough. Oh well…

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