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I've gotten started with hard pastels, but I'm having trouble getting the colors I want on the paper. For instance, the pastels all have very pure colors and I find it difficult to blend them to get less saturated hues. Do I just add gray? What is the correct method to blend two pastels on the paper/board? (do I just lay down one color over the other and then blend?)
Any advice would be much appreciated
Hmmmm- Your choice of media is hard pastels? Some pastel blending tools include the following: Blending Stumps, Blending Tortillions, Chamois Skin, DuoPastello Pastel Blender, Feather Dusting Brush [to remove, excess dust, residue ect from working with pastels, pencils, graphite, ect, Pastel Smoothies, Springie Pastel Blenders, Transitions Pastel Blenders...actually, experiment & use your own imagination Go online; check-out, some major art supply venues -such as, Jerry's Artarama, or Pearl Art Supplies; there you will find some important information in reference to the newest tools for every sort of media you can imagine I've always wanted to try, the "PanPastels; they look like a Blast to work with & so easy to blend too.
The other question you asked is how mute-color... [Look-up, A Color Wheel Chart, Online-"Muting-down" color is best done by the use of blending in, modest amounts of the COMPLEMENTARY COLOR of whatever color you wish to tone-down. Two colors that defined to be " COMPLEMENTARY"[ex. red-green] to one another, will ideally, produce-a shade of grey when mixed in equal proportion.
Opps-should also mention that your "choice" of paper is pretty critical in terms of working with & blending pastels. You will find, much more information regarding different paper surfaces, boards, ect in the art supply sites. Hope this helps...
I stopped fighting my inner demons; we're on the same side now...
thanks! don't know why I didn't think of complementary colors
The other thing you can do, instead of literally blending, you can try optical blending. For instance, cross hatching different colors on top of each other to give the illusion of a "blended" color. That might be a more suitable way to control color with hard pastels than actually blending them. Degas uses optical blending a lot, take a close look at his pastels for inspiration.