I recently did a video where I shared some of my favorite soft pastel tools and supplies. In that video I shared how much I live rubber shapers. I thought I would share some of other tools and techniques used to blend soft pastels.
Below are close up photos of each blending method to help give you a better idea of the look the create
M Graham watercolors are the first tube watercolors I purchased. They were also the second brand of professional paints I purchased. I have been using them for two years and I have really enjoyed working with them. They are my go to watercolors when I want to do more traditional watercolor paintings.
I love how easily these paints are to reactivate after they dry, they flow nicely when doing wet into wet paintings, and are very concentrated. These paints have colors that granulate, layer/glaze, and Lift. Most of the colors from my Hydrus Watercolors are staining which is great for how I use them however; it is nice to be able to fix mistakes easier. It is also nice to be able to get texture in your painting from the granulating pigments.
Depending on how you work and what your painting the vibrancy of the M Graham colors could be a pro or a con. M Graham paints are very pigmented and colorful but they tend to be more realistic in color where as some other brands can get a synthetic or artificial look to them. This is nice when painting faces and landscapes because I don’t have to work as hard to mix and neutralize to get them to look realistic.
I have a large collection of M graham Watercolors almost 40 colors and of my colors My favorites include their quinacridone colors ( I highly recommend this set), Gamboge, Prussan blue, Phthalo Blue, Cobalt teal, and Azo green.
For the demonstration and tutorial I decided to paint a seascape. I found my reference photo here
You don’t have to use M Graham paints to follow along or even use as many colors. For fun I used all the blue M Graham colors I own but that is not necessary. I worked in light layers of paint to make it easier to glaze. The clear wax crayon helped preserve some of the highlights.
Tools and Supplies I used:
*Phthalo Green Yellow shade
*White Dr Ph Maritins Bombay India Ink
*¾ Inch Flat Mimic Squirrel Brush
* #12 Round W.C. Squirrel Brush
*#8 Round W.C. Squirrel Brush
*1/4” Princeton Neptune Dagger Brush
*Arches Coldpress watercolor paper
Here is a closer look at the finished painting.
If you have any questions about M Graham paints please feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Here is a list of 5 of my favorite and most used tools when I work with soft pastels. My favorites include Rubbing Alcohol, Dark Ink ( I use Dr Ph Martins Bombay Inks), Photo Corners in various sizes, Work able fixative ( I use Krylon Fixatif), and Rubber shapers.
The video goes into more detail of why I like these tools and supplies when working with pastels.
If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below.
I love Dr Ph Martins Hydrus Watercolors, I have been using them regularly for the past 2 ½ years. I have used them for a wide variety of paintings and thought I would share with you their pros and cons while demonstrating how to paint a colorful grizzly bear. Yes, grizzly bears are my favorite animal so I tend to paint them regularly. I Hope you find this review and speed painting helpful.
One thing that is really nice about hydrus watercolors (and professional art supplies in general) is that they are available in in sets and as individual paints. If you want to try them but don’t want to commit to an entire set you can order individual colors from places like dick Blick. You can also order replacements as needed. If I was going to recomend a set to start with it would be Set 1. It contains a great selection of primary colors that allow for great color mixing. My most used individual colors are the Hansa Yellow Light, gamboge, vermillion hue, crimson lake, Ultramarine blue, phthalo blue, and Quinacridone magenta,
If you are interest here is a list of the supplies I used for this Painting:
I am regularly asked about what watercolors I would recommend for this person or that, for a specific budget, or purpose. I decided I would do a series where I review various watercolors and talk about their quality, pros, cons, and who I would recommend them for.
This is my first installment in the new series and I will be talking about inexpensive watercolors I would recommend for children, teens, and beginners. I also discuss some of the signs of when its time to start to move up in quality as your kids progress in art.
You can find these paints at big box stores like walmart, hobby lobby, and Michael’s. The crayola paints can be found on sale in the fall right before school starts. These can also be purchased online, I found Dick Blick had the best deals for them.
I have been on the hunt for an affordable and good quality soft pastel set that is also non-toxic. When getting art supplies for kids is really important to make sure that they are using non-toxic supplies. Children aren’t always the best with washing their hands and cleaning up their work space. This is especially important with pastels because you are touching the pigment directly instead of using a paint brush. Pastels can create a lot of dust that can get unintended surfaces like drinking cups.
Overall, I think the Mungyo soft pastels are a great option for children and beginners who are experimenting with soft pastels and want to learn how to use them without the pressure of using expensive materials. They offered a good range of colors and had a mix of bright colors and along with neutrals. I was especially impressed with their neutral greens in the set. They will be useful for anyone trying to paint a landscape.
They were a good medium softness which made it easy to get a lot of layers down without having to be overly cautious about filling in the tooth of the paper too quickly. My only struggle with this set is that there weren’t a lot of really dark colors. To work around this you could do an underpainting with really dark inks/watercolors, use a dark toned paper, or buy other open stock pastels in brands that carry better darks like Terry Ludwig.
Here is a closer look at the still life drawing I did with the pastels. They layered really nicely on the sanded paper. Here is the list of tools and supplies that I used or talked about in the video.
I enjoyed painting the last beach scene so much that I decided to do one more. This time I got my reference photo from the website called Paint My Photo. It’s a great website to get reference photos for artists. This website allows you to use the photos as references in your commercial work. Unfortunately, The rules on that website restrict me from showing you the actually photo here on my website. So here is a link to where you can get the reference picture. You just need to create a login in for it. The picture is from Pauline West.
I started my painting process buy first picking out the supplies and pastels I need. The pastels I am using are a mix of Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencils, Prisma color nupastels and Jack Richeson Soft Pastels. The harder pastels will be used for the under painting and details. I also made sure to pick a variety of values (lights and darks) in each color family. This will allow me to create contrast and depth in my picture without relying on straight black and white pastels as much. Nothing wrong with white and black pastels but if you only use those for your highlights and shadows your picture can look flat and uninteresting.
I also picked our warm tones and cool tones of each color family. Having warm and cool selection in each color family can aid in color mixing and layering. Every color will either have a warm undertone, be neutral, or have a cool undertone. For example, a warm toned blue would be a Phthalo blue because It has some green undertones. In contrast a cool blue would be a ultramarine because it tends to be closer to purple on the color wheel. I’m working on a tutorial to explain and demonstrate this more clearly. For now I’ve posted a picture below to help demonstrate what I mean on the actual colors I’m using.
The rest of this supplies I’ll be using are 600 Grit Uart sanded pastel paper cut down to a 6×11” size, Krylon workable fixative, Generic rubbing alcohol, an old stiff bristled paint brush for blending out the under painting, a size 1 round white taklon brush for applying the ink (any old acrylic brush with a fine point will work), purple and black waterproof ink I’m using Dr Ph Maritns Bombay India ink, plastic pallet knives, and rubber shapers. You can use a traditional blending stump if you don’t have rubber shapers.
This painting took me about three hours to complete from start to finish. The video is significantly sped up so feel free to slow the video down and/or pause it as you work through the various steps. I also find it beneficial to watch the video all the way through before starting your project. That way you are more comfortable with the process and know what to do next.
Here is the complete list of supplies and tools I used and links so you can look into them in more detail: