Color Spree

Color Spree
My favorite color is "all of them." What's yours?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gallery Mungyo Soft Square Pastels

Gallery Mungyo Artist's Soft Pastel Squares are about half the price of the soft round pastels. At that price, I didn't expect to like them at all and didn't bother to buy them even though I liked the Soft Rounds and Semi-Hard pastels. They couldn't possibly be that good at that price, they must be something horrible, right?

Well, I was pleasantly surprised when a friend of mine gave me a set of 48 soft squares. No, they aren't on a par with Art Spectrum, Rembrandt or Unison, let alone the hand-rolled pastels or Senneliers. You do get what you pay for.

But for a bargain pastel these are very sweet. I should have remembered how much I liked that little 64 half stick set. They're a lot like those - bright, soft, consistent in texture, easy to handle and sweet on unsanded paper. They're great sketching pastels and best of all, so inexpensive you can just go ahead and fill huge sheets of newsprint or sketch pads with them.

They aren't as pigment rich as the soft rounds, but they're not bad either and have a good texture. Reasonably soft, they go over hard pastels well. Texture is consistent across all the colors. The narrow wrapped sticks are easy to handle and give color name and number for easy replacement of most-used colors from open stock.

These are available in open stock from Jerry's Artarama or ASW, also at some chain hobby and art stores. Moderately priced, these are great for color studies, sketching, goofing around and having a lot of fun.

The manufacturer claims highest lightfastness for them but this hasn't been tested elsewhere as far as I know. I'd be very interested if someone in a sunny climate set up a year-long home lightfastness test with swatches of these and other Gallery Mungyo pastels by putting swatches in a sunny window and checking them against swatches kept in the dark for fading.

Watch out for fluorescent colors, by definition those are fugitive. The fluorescent effect is created by the pigment degrading, so they will fade rapidly and be dramatic until they do. Anything else though, the manufacturer's claims are worth something at least. They could be facing truth in advertising lawsuits if they can't show the pigments are lightfast, though not all testing is done with the pigment combined with the binder.

For something at this price range to claim lightfastness is pretty impressive. I know there are some modern pigments that are more lightfast than their original counterparts, like Permanent Alizarin Crimson vs. original Alizarin Crimson. So that to me is a point in their favor. If something came out really well using these, I wouldn't feel bad about selling it.

As opposed to certain other cheap brands of pastels that I have not reviewed because I didn't keep them or like them. You don't see negative reviews here mostly because I'm starting with the supplies I like and haven't kept the ones I couldn't stand. I hated ALphacolor pastels and almost gave up on the medium because those were the first ones I got. These are much better and very reasonably priced.

Here's a scene that I did with them on brown Aquabee Bogus Recycled Rough Sketch Paper. They perform beautifully on rough unsanded paper. It was easy to get broken color when I wanted it or layer a bit and fill the tooth. Colors are vibrant, consistent and easy to blend using sticks. I didn't finger-smudge anything on this one but on another sketch, they smudged fine.

Geese on the Water by Robert A. Sloan, 6" x 9"

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