Pastel ColorPlay Project #7

Hello Everyone! ColorPlay #7 is here.  

I will keep this particular post brief, as it deals with the same color scheme as in my last post.

I find that sometimes it is easier NOT to put away the pastels I used for my most recent painting, and I use them again.  

So this time I decided to try out a new paper for me….

     UART DARK 500


I am used to working on UART’s lighter sanded paper which is actually a sand color.  It comes in a variety of grits from a very toothy 240 all the way up to a very fine 800.  The higher grits are probably better for things like animal portraits or subjects which require a lot of detail.  I typically use the 400 grit for my landscape paintings.

UART DARK is a 500 grit, so a little finer than I am used to working on, but not vastly different from the 400.

What I love most about this dark sandpaper is how it makes the pastel colors look so vibrant!  

In the image above, you can see how the darkest violet of my palette “pops” against the dark of the paper.


My intent for this ColorPlay was to use an Analogous Complementary color scheme using yellow, orange, green, and red-violet; however, this particular exercise turned out to be much more of a Complementary color scheme focused around the red-violets and greens.  Very minor use of the other colors….




This might be one piece I pull out again in the future to do a little more with, as it feels a little “unfinished” to me; however, I am itching to do some more painting and posting about some of the pieces I haven’t had time to share!


So until next time….stay creative and colorful!


Pastel ColorPlay Project # 5 & #6

Hello creative friends!

Today I am posting a little experiment I did recently with my latest Pastel ColorPlays.

(For more about how the Pastel ColorPlay Project started, see this post!)



I wanted to see what the differences would be if I used the SAME color scheme on DIFFERENT paper colors.

I have posted the progress shots and results below, but here is the summation of what I found:

First, the VALUE of the paper’s color, not just the hue, makes a pretty big difference!  I was surprised at how different the exact same pastels looked on light-valued paper compared to mid-valued paper.

Here are shots of the paper scraps I used to test my preselected pastels.  See how different some of the pastels look on the mid-value gray paper compared to the lighter paper?  Some actually look like different colors!


(Both papers are Canson Mi-Teintes, one in gray and one a light yellow.)

The other thing I found was that while my intention was to apply the same hues and values in approximately the same locations for both paintings, working on different valued papers forced me to work in slightly different ways.  

For example, on the mid-toned paper, it felt much easier to establish the darkest and lightest-valued areas; whereas, on the lighter-toned paper it felt like I was constantly having to go back and reestablish the darks and really work at having my lights “pop”.  That was unexpected!

Now onto the ColorPlays….



I chose to use an Analogous Complementary color scheme using the main hues of Orange, Yellow, and Yellow-Green with the complement of Red-Violet.



















What do you think?  I am partial to the painting done on the mid-toned paper.  It is a little more somber, moodier, if you will.  The painting done on the light-valued paper is brighter, sunnier.  Different moods.


Thanks for stopping by to read about my latest play-time with color.  I hope you enjoyed this post  and look forward to your comments and hearing about how you might be exploring color!

Till next time!


Pastel Snow Scene: December Waiting

Hello everyone!

I am continuing to work on my Pastel ColorPlay series, but as promised, here is a little something I worked on recently.  

I was inspired by the recent snows we received. 

And believe it or not, I didn’t have ANY reference photos with snow in them!!

So…that was soon rectified when I decided to snap photos with my phone as my hubby drove along the highway on a wintry day.

I happened to catch this photo:

While I love the composition of this photo, the day was very overcast and there wasn’t much color in the scene.

So I used my ipad’s edit function to punch up the colors–mainly in the fallen leaves and ground cover.  
(Unfortunately, my iPad wouldn’t save these changes, so I can’t show you the revised photo.)









“December Waiting” 8×8 pastel

Hope you enjoyed this post! 


Pastel ColorPlay Project #3 & #4

Hello dear art lovers and creators! 

In today’s post I have combined my third and fourth Pastel ColorPlay paintings because they share the same type of color scheme: ANALOGOUS

Analogous simply refers to 3-5 adjacent hues on the color wheel (like red, orange, yellow).

Now, even though these paintings used the same type of color scheme, the hues (colors) chosen to execute these paintings were very different. 

Funnily enough, even though both paintings used analogous hues, I struggled much more with one painting than the other; in fact, it took me twice as much time on one as the other!  

Still trying to figure out exactly why that was the case, but I have a sneaking suspicion it has to do with my being more comfortable with certain hues and not others……

This possibility is not really surprising to me. One of the benefits of doing this type of concentrated work on color is that it teaches me where my weaknesses are!


Before I continue with today’s ColorPlays, I would like to touch on a new tool I am using.

I am trying out a different color wheel than the one I used in my last two ColorPlays.  
It is called the Original Hal Reid Analogous Color Wheel and is available from

In my opinion, this color wheel has certain advantages and disadvantages.  One advantage is that it helps you find what it terms “discord” colors (colors which add that extra little bit of color zing to your painting when used in very small amounts, especially near the center of interest.)

One disadvantage I found while using this wheel is that you have to visualize your own tints and shades; whereas, they are printed right on the Creative Color Wheel I used in my previous posts.  Having the tints and shades right in front of your eyes can be very helpful, especially for pastelists unsure of color choices!

The other thing I noticed when comparing these wheels is that they are not based on the same color theory!

For example, the Hal Reid wheel is based on the Munsell hue circuit which has 5 primary colors: red – yellow – green – blue – purple.  
While the Creative Color Wheel is based on 3 primaries: red – yellow – blue.

(More information is included on the back of the Hal Reid wheel.)

The Bottom Line?  

Well, depending on which wheel you use, it will determine slightly different complements!  

For example, the Reid wheel shows blue-purple as the complement to yellow, while the Creative wheel displays violet (a true purple, not reddish purple or blueish purple) as yellow’s complement.


Well, I suppose not much of this matters if you simply choose the colors you like and that work for your painting, but it can be confusing to new artists.  




As you can see in the photo above, I chose Red-Orange-Yellow for my analogous hues.


I chose an orangey piece of Canson Mi-Teintes (smooth side).



 Here is the preselected analagous palette for ColorPlay #4.  You can see I chose hues of yellow, yellow-green, and cooler greens (with a hint of zing from a blue-green Terry Ludwig!)


I let myself work on more familiar paper – Canson Touch (cream color).





As you can see from the photos above, using analogous schemes for each painting produced very different results because of the HUES I preselected for the paintings.  

~Which do you prefer?

~Can you tell which I struggled more with?


Thanks for taking the time to read about my latest ColorPlays.

I have to say I am having loads of fun learning about color and pushing myself to try new things! 

I look forward to your comments, observations, and questions, so feel free to chat!


(Up next time: a tiny break from ColorPlay to show you a snow scene I recently finished.) 

Pastel ColorPlay Project #2

Hello again fellow creatives!

Time for my second Pastel ColorPlay.  

This one brought me a few challenges.  But hey, bring it on!  

With each experiment, I am feeling a heightened sense of accomplishment and (dare I say it?) confidence that I think comes from just starting something NEW and getting through it.

As my daughter often describes it, there is a “nervous-citement” when you embark on a new path with the expectation of both growth and obstacles along the way.  

Well, this artist is definitely nervouscited ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here goes….



For today’s ColorPlay I chose a scheme I have never used before–SPLIT COMPLEMENTARY. 

My Hues are Violet, Orange Yellow, and Green Yellow. I found out very quickly that I am in need of more orangey-yellows!    

Here is my color wheel and preselected palette.


UGH!!!!!  This was a real challenge for me.  I used white Fabriano Tiziano paper that I have had lying around for literally the last few years….and now I know why!  It has a machine-made dimpled surface on both sides that leaves “pits” of white with pastel sitting up on the ridges.  Not my favorite.

So, to help get rid of the white flecks, I toned the entire paper with a mid-value violet pastel and then rubbed it in with foam pipe insulation.  Two coats got me where I wanted.




I learned to live with the odd paper texture by the time I was through.  I have 6 more pieces of this paper to use up if I force myself to.  For practice, it’s ok to work with, but believe it or not, (and I NEVER thought I would EVER say this), I prefer Canson Mi-Teintes over the Fabriano!  

See?  I’m learning! ๐Ÿ™‚


Thanks for taking the time to join me on this journey of color.  Feel free to comment and join in!



Pastel ColorPlay Project #1

Hello fellow creatives!

Today is the day.  Time to post my first color experiment of the Pastel ColorPlay Project.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to live through #1!  (Remember, I was skeered…!)

So there I was.  I had all of my supplies ready.  My chosen paper and thumbnail sketches were taped to my easel.  I had decided on my color scheme and preselected my palette.  I had music playing in the background.  I was ready.

It was now or never….I took a deep breath and remembered my intention: PLAY WITH COLOR!



 For my first colorplay, I chose a scheme and colors I don’t usually use.  Might as well jump in at the deep end, right?

I selected a Triadic scheme with the 3 hues of blue green, red violet, and yellow orange.  
(Not to be confused with green blue, violet red, and orange yellow….but I digress.)


For paper, I jumped out of the pan and into the fire once more by choosing my old nemesis, Canson Mi-Teintes.  I have always had a hate-hate relationship with this paper, but I have to say that today’s experiment made me hate it a little less.  

I was very careful to start with harder pastels on this paper since it doesn’t hold as many layers as the sanded papers I am used to. 
Here is the line drawing and you can see the 5 values I chose for each hue tested on a scrap of my paper. 



I am surprised at how much I actually LIKE how this turned out!  For colors I would never have chosen to put together, it’s very fantasy-looking.

I also got some extra practice on a paper I have never really ever had success with–SCORE!


I hope you enjoyed this first posting of my project.  I look forward to posting more ColorPlays, though I still have to decide if I am going to post them individually, or as groupings.  

Thanks for taking the time to read about my project!

Now go get creative with color!


Pastel ColorPlay Project!

Hello fellow creative people!  

Lately, I have been longing for something that has felt just out of reach. Maybe it’s the slow, long winter setting in, but I have sensed within myself a need to stretch out of the cocoon I’ve been living in, and take more chances artistically.

As a result, today I set off on a new leg of my artistic journey and started a new series of paintings.

I’m calling this series: PASTEL COLORPLAY PROJECT!

Now as an artist, I love color.  Notice the updated look to this blog?  More color!  

I love making color charts, mixing colors, and even just gazing at all my colorful pastels lined up neatly ready for action.  (Yes, I was one of those kids who longingly drooled over the Crayola 64 crayon box…you know, the one with all the COLORS)


But I will tell you a secret……

As much as I love looking at color, I am also afraid of it!  

     Yes, I said AFRAID, SKEERED, NERVOUS, LEERY, however you want to define it.  

     Well, not so much afraid as in “Eek, here comes that RED crayon!!!!”,

                but more like, 

      “Okay, sky is BLUE, grass is GREEN, but I feel kinda trapped and I’m not sure how to paint any differently.”


And here is another secret…..I’m not the only one!  Artists study color theory, entire books are written about color, and classes abound focusing on this singular subject.  

So, how to grow into the artist I desire to be–one who is more confident with color?

In comes my inspiration: Karen Margulis of Painting My World.  Several years ago she started a series of paintings to explore color and then posted them to her blog.  If you go to her blog and type in “variations” in the search box, it will bring up some of the posts she did for her series.

But back to me and my project.  

First, I had to set some parameters, ground rules if you will, to help me be successful. 


1. Keep it Small!

I am choosing to work in a 6×8 vertical format.  I usually work at 9×12 or larger, so this in itself will be challenging for me; however, it is important that I not labor unnecessarily over each piece trying to make it “frameable”.  Keeping it small would also let me keep things looser, less detailed.  Finally, this size will help me get over the nagging myth I am wasting paper.

 2. Use a Variety of Pastel Papers

This would include some old favorites (Uart 400, Fisher 400, and Canson Touch), but I would also finally use some of the other papers I’ve had sitting around for one reason or another (Pastel Premier, Uart Dark 500, Canson Mi-Teintes, Clairfontaine Pastelmat).  

3. Preselect the Color Scheme & Palette

I would start every painting by first choosing my color scheme, and then selecting a limited palette of 3 hues (sometimes 4 if doing a tetradic scheme) and allowing myself up to 5 values of each of the chosen hues.

4. Keep the Intention of the Project at the Forefront

This is important.  I want to study color, not make perfect pieces, or pieces for sale or framing, necessarily.  Also, it is important to me that this be fun!  This is intended as PLAY TIME.  Hopefully, I will end up learning a ton, and maybe even surprising myself a few times along the way ๐Ÿ™‚  

5. Anything Goes Technique-Wise

In other words, if I feel like doing a watercolor underpainting, I’ll do it.  If I want to tone the paper first, I’ll do it.  If I want to just jump right in with pastel and no drawing, I’ll do that.  Whatever it takes to get the pastel to paper in a way that helps me learn (even learn what NOT to do,) I’ll do it!

6. Be Organized About All This Creativity

I’ve chosen my reference and gathered my color wheels, created my thumbnail sketches, cut my papers to size, planned to log/blog about the different color schemes and the results, and will store the finished studies in clear bags with a foam backing board for easy storage and viewing.


Coming Soon: ColorPlay Study #1  

(Hint: Here is a sneak peek at the palette I chose for the first painting.  Can you guess what color scheme I used?)



Organizing Your Soft Pastels

When it comes to painting with pastels, organization is key.  Some people keep their pastels in their original foam-lined boxes and then proceed to spread out all those boxes on a table when it’s time to paint.

Me?  I solved that issue in my last post by creating a studio box that gets left out permanently and is ready to go when I am.

Now that all my pastels are in one nifty container, how does one put all those colors into some recognizable and usable order???

Well, there are a few ways.  Many artists have a separate compartment for each hue (color), and then within that compartment the sticks are placed from light to dark value.  They may also separate the hues into warm or cool sections, saturated or neutral, etc.  

I find the boxes of these painters absolutely GORGEOUS to look at…like eye candy!

However, when I started painting with pastels a few years ago, one of my first hurdles was to learn how to determine and apply the concept of VALUE to my work.  Value is simply the relative lightness or darkness of a hue.  

Many budding artists have heard the idea that color gets the glory, while value does the work.  This means you can make the color completely other-worldy in a piece, but if the relative values of the major shapes in the composition are correct, it will still make sense!

So since having a believable value scheme is so important, I decided to organize my box mainly by values: 4 to be exact ๐Ÿ™‚


Why four?  Because when I plan a new piece I do thumbnails using 4 values. (Some use 5 or 6 values, but I find this works better for me.)

In the exampes above, you can see I use the white of my paper as the 1st value, and then I use markers for the other 3.  I end up with a lightest light, darker light, lighter dark, and darkest dark.

And here is how it translates to sorting and FINDING the correct value in my pastel box!

The section on the left holds my softest pastels (Terry Ludwigs). They are organized into 4 values and are kept separate because they are the softest pastels I own, and tend to rub off on anything that touches them.

The middle and right sections of this box hold my lightest lights, darker lights, lighter darks, and darkest darks of my other brands of pastels (Unisons, Jack Richardson, Rembrandts, and a few others.)

Here’s a tip: organize your pastels into however many values makes sense for you, then take a photo with your phone.  Edit the photo into monotone or greyscale to see if you have sorted properly.  Like this:

This set-up makes sense for my brain.  Each time I go to paint, I save a ton of time searching for the correct value because I have already done the work!  Then I just have to choose the hue, warmth/coolness, and saturation or intensity.

I encourage you to figure out what makes sense for you.  

Now go get organized and Happy Painting!