Recently I was asked to share how I create greys in my pastel paintings. Rather than write an email in reply, I made a video on painting gorgeous greys in soft pastel as I thought my answer would benefit many pastel artists.
Take a look!
As you can see, I like to layer complementary colours to create vibrant and interesting greys. Why pick up a grey pastel when you have this option?!
Here are the final 50 shades of gorgeous greys:
To make grey, you need the three primary colours – red, blue, and yellow – plus white. Mix all of these together in various amounts and you get greys – hundreds of them! Some will lean to the warm side while others will be cool. You can run through the whole value spectrum from black to the palest of greys. Mixing complementary colours (red/green, blue/orange, purple/yellow) will do the same thing as between them, there’s some combination of the three primaries.
It’s much easier to achieve these gorgeous greys with paint – just squeeze tubes and mix the colours on your palette. In soft pastels, things work a bit differently. Layering takes the place of mixing on the palette and so your grey may not be as perfectly achromatic as when you mix with paints. Still you will end up with a more neutral colour than each stick on its own! And it’s these combinations that make for an infinite variation of vibrant gorgeous greys. I get excited just writing about them!
Here’s a close-up:
Don’t just use this technique for obviously grey subjects like a grey wall or grey clouds. Anytime a colour doesn’t shout out at you like a red stop sign, you are probably looking at some form of grey whether very neutralized ie ‘grey’ or just off the pure colour.
And greys will make your colour accents pop! Just look at the colour swatches above their greyed counterparts.
So instead of reaching for a grey or neutral pastel, why not try layering two complementary colours. Try it out and let me know how your experiments go! I want to hear that you’ve tried creating these gorgeous greys!
~ ~ ~
On another note, you may have noticed I’m now creating Q&A videos. I have a couple more lined up but I’d love to hear your questions. If you have one, arrange a free 15-min call where I’ll try to answer your question. If I feel it will benefit others to hear my answer, I’ll choose it to create a video! So schedule your session now!
I’d love to hear what you think about the video – pushing the authentic envelope for me – eeeeek!
Until next time,