Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sennelier Critique

Blue Branches on Red
14” x 10”
Original Pastel
Casey Klahn

Sennelier Extra-Soft Pastels “à l’écu” have a wide, wide range of colors. 525 current in the line. Go here to see a run down of the types of pastels, their sizes and sets available. I think a friend of mine said that she bought a full set with prize money, once. Other than that, I noticed once that Daniel Greene uses a full set. Personally, I have a hard time seeing myself using a full set, but if Santa is willing...

I know that I have some discontinued ones (high key greens) in my palette. Once, I bought their 100 landscape set when it was being updated with different colors. As soon as it arrived, I broke each stick in half and peeled the wrappers off of the halves that went into use, and stored the remainder in my back-up boxes, by hue and value. Then, I shed a tear at how easily the hundred sticks disappeared into the whole of my collection. I have a hard time finding which ones are actually Sennies.

To get a feeling for this experience, the next time you get home from the grocer, take that new gallon carton of milk and jab it through the bottom with a butcher knife. See? How's that feel?

That's part of a pastel artist's life, though. Ruin the tools; rid yourself of the precious. Now, you might be free to actually create something. It reminds me of this hilarious scene in a World War One movie where Bill Murray is a medic sergeant who gets a spankin' new ambulance donated by school kids from America and the green driver is so proud to arrive at the front lines with this gem. Murray pulls out his revolver and starts shooting out the headlights and blowing holes in the doors. Google reminds me this movie was titled The Razor's Edge, and few others liked it but me. I am so weird.

This over dramatization I bring to you for a reason. Art is wholly about discarding the precious. Who cares if Senneliers crumble a little every now and then? This is the price you pay for very clear ultramarine blues.

I learned something from Lisa Bachman's post about the darks available from Sennelier. I am more prone to establishing big areas of dark, and so I favor the bigger Diane Townsend Terrage sticks. These sticks are so dark, I have a hard time getting them back in their proper place in my palette. Good to know that Sennelier makes dark darks, too.

I reach for the Sennies to establish really bright and pure color passages in my paintings. An example can be seen in this detail from Blue Branches.


Lisa B. said...

I'm going to need a bigger pastel box. Anything that needs to be compared to black in order to be put away is something that needs to be in my collection.

Casey Klahn said...

Here is a link to see how I made my mega-palette.

I'm not supposed to be promoting DTTs on the Sennelier post, eh? Good thing I'm not getting paid for this...

Thanks for the comments, Lisa.

Gesa said...

These reviews are excellent, Casey. I must admit that I mostly stick to Unisons, but have a couple of others, in particular mid to dark value Schminckes for even softer. But the posts on Sennelier and Diane Townsend's are calling me to go shopping again.
I also like the sentiment of losing what is precious to get that glorious blue.
Many thanks!

Casey Klahn said...

The next two reviews will be Schminckes and Unisons, two pastel brands that are a big part of my palette.

The last time I looked at my charts for them, I didn't see the dark darks that are becoming an important part of new pastel art.

I look around my house at older works of mine that I did before I had these darks, and I see that I did a lot of blending black with a color like ochre or ultramarine. Now, I never seem to do that anymore.